8 beautiful UK walks for lockdown exercise
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
During our third national lockdown, one must take enjoyment where one can! And for many, it’s getting outside for some fresh air.
With the bulbs starting to peep out, spring is on the way, so it’s a good time to get your boots on and go for a nice, long walk.
Walking is obviously a super way to exercise while social distancing, but remember to heed government rules. You can only exercise outside once per day, only with your household or one other person and not outside your local area.
With that in mind, here are some beautiful ways to see parts of the United Kingdom by foot, with no aircraft required.
1. The Jubilee Greenway, London
Completed in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, this mammoth walking and cycling path is a great way to escape the feeling of being in a big city — without actually leaving it. It also connects all of the major London venues used for the 2012 Olympic Games. There’s plenty of wide-open green space if you want to take a breather along the way, including the always beautiful Victoria Park and Greenwich.
If you’re not up for the almost 40-mile full length, then consider just tackling section two from Little Venice to Camden. Here, you can enjoy both green spaces and the unique riverboats moored along Regent’s Canal.
2. Parkland Walk: Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, London
You can do this walk in either direction. Reward yourself for finishing the walk with spectacular views of the city up at iconic Alexandra Palace by starting at Finsbury Park. Alternatively, you can do it the other way around and get the hard part out of the way first by climbing up to Ally Pally and taking it easy along the rest of the flat terrain to Finsbury Park. Walking the whole way will be around five miles.
This walk can be a little hard to find, so use Google Maps to make sure you’re on the right track.
As a former local of Finsbury Park, the area near Finsbury Park station isn’t very pleasant, but the closer you get to Harringay the nicer the park becomes.
3. The White Cliffs of Dover
You’ll want pleasant weather for this exposed trek right on the Strait of Dover, where it can be windy and fresh even in summer. On a particularly clear day, you may even be able to make out the French coastline. Apart from the iconic white chalk cliffs, there’s plenty to look out for in the area — two shipwrecks can be seen from the base of the cliffs, while higher up is the South Foreland Lighthouse and local Exmoor ponies eating the abundant grass. The famous cliffs have been considered a “symbol of hope and freedom” for centuries and the Guardian rates this as the best walk in the country.
Dogs are very welcome on this walk that runs about eight miles each side of Dover.
4. The Green Chain Walk, Greenwich, London
Greenwich is another great option if you want to escape London without leaving it, starting at either the Thames Barrier or Erith riverside. This walk is split into 11 easily manageable sections, which allows you to spend as much or as little time taking in some of the best views of south London. If you have all weekend, there are 50 miles in total.
Unfortunately, given you are so close to the centre of London, there are some parts that involve street walking, though this is compensated with plenty of woodland, parks and excellent views.
5. Cotswold Way National Trail, the Cotswolds
Officially an Area Of Oustanding National Beauty, this trail winds its way through quintessentially beautiful English villages. The full route stretches for just over 100 miles from Campden down to beautiful Bath, so it’s unlikely you’ll manage the entire length in one go. But this walk is considered to be one of the best marked trails in England. The trail can be muddy in winter periods, so it’s usually advisable to wear your wellies.
While it may be some time before you can travel to Asia, the Cotswold Way National Trail has a twin trail in South Korea. Equal in length, you can tackle the Jeju Olle Trail on the island of Jeju.
6. Buttermere and Rannerdale Knotts, Cumbria
The Lake District is another iconic part of the U.K. This walk, from Buttermere Valley up to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts, will require a moderate level of fitness, though you’ll be rewarded with views over various peaks as well as three lakes. It’s also circular, which should help if you are trying to limit your travelling.
Head to the National Trust car park in Buttermere. You will notice “cairns” along the way — man-made piles of stacked stones. While it may be tempting to build your own, the National Trust asks you to keep the stones on the path where they are needed.
7. Lizard Peninsula Coast, Cornwall
Missing that long weekend you booked in the Costa Del Sol? You can still find some beautiful beaches right here in the U.K. The oddly named Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall is the most southerly point of mainland United Kingdom and combines gorgeous little fishing villages and pockets of unspoilt beaches and other coastlines. You’re unlikely to encounter any actual lizards on the walk — the name is thought to come from the Cornish name “lezou”, which means headland.
This peninsula is designated as another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
8. Causeway Coast Way, Northern Ireland
If you’re in Northern Ireland, there’s the epic 33-mile Causeway Coast Way, starting from the seaside town of Portstewart, past Dunluce Castle and then the famous Giant’s Causeway before finishing at Ballycastle. Note that this distance takes most walkers two days to complete, so you might want to just focus on a section of it if you’re short on time, though it’s mostly flat so manageable for even basic fitness levels.
We realise entertainment options are fairly limited at the moment but going for a refreshing walk will keep you fit, cheer you up and hopefully make you appreciate the great British outdoors. And hopefully, before long, you’ll be able to stop at some lovely pubs while you do it!
Featured photo by Hugh Rooney/Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
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