The best UK hiking trails for social distancing have been revealed

Heat map data has been used to uncover the least busy hiking routes in the country

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Kinder Scout
Photograph: Shutterstock

As the weather turns more wintry in the UK, and with most of us still desperate to get out of the house, a socially-distanced stroll in the countryside has jumped right up there as one of the most appealing ways to spend our free time. 

What we don’t want to see, though, is literally any other human being who’s had the same idea. This summer we all heard stories about overcrowded beaches and queues at mountain summits across Britain, and that’s precisely the kind of thing we want to avoid. 

That’s where these hiking routes might come in useful. They’ve been selected by Holidu and AllTrails, which analysed heat map data from user-recorded hikes. The result? Ten lovely walking routes that are also definitely not crowded. Winner. 

So where should people in the UK head to get their fix of deserted walks? 

The Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Loop, an eight-mile route near Hexham in Northumberland that takes in parts of the Hadrian’s Wall world heritage site is the top choice, thanks to its picturesque scenery and low visitor numbers. 

Crag Lough
Photograph: Shutterstock

Next up is the ten-mile Kinder Scout and Mam Tor Circular near Castleton in Derbyshire. It’s a difficult one, which might be why you’re less likely to bump into many fellow hikers, but you’re rewarded with ace views. 

For something a little easier, try the five-mile Farthing Downs and Happy Valley Loop in Surrey, the slightly longer nearby Tilford Birds and Bridges Circular or Haystacks from Gatesgarth, a moderately difficult five-mile walk in the Lake District (and one of the area’s quieter routes).

Steall Falls
Photograph: Shutterstock

Others that make the list include the ten-mile Bledlow Great Wood and Radnage walk in Oxfordshire; the Steall Falls Path, an easy two-mile trail that takes you to one of Scotland’s tallest waterfalls; Beinn Chabhair, a challenging nine-miler in West Dunbartonshire; and the six-mile Cader Idris via Minffordd Path, a clever way to swerve the crowds in the popular walking destination of Snowdonia. Rounding out the topten is another Surrey trail – this time, the moderate, five-mile Witley Trees and Commons Circular near Godalming. 

Plenty of options for the next time you need to get the hell out of your house, and away from everyone else. 

Current rules vary across the UK. Check for local lockdowns or restrictions before you travel. 

Find links to all the hiking routes mentioned here

Ready to wear in those new boots? Here’s our pick of the very best hiking trails in the UK

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