When I studied in England, I joined a hiking group that went out every Saturday. A bus would drop us off by the side of the road in the Lake District, or the Yorkshire Dales, or on the Channel coast, and we’d wander cross-country for the day, navigating by map and compass, going wherever we pleased. Conveniently, our path always seemed to end at a village pub.
While Britain doesn’t exactly conjure up visions of the endless wild, the island is actually home to some incredible hiking. Thanks to a longstanding system of “rights of way,” England, Scotland, and Wales are laced with thousands of paths and trails that criss-cross private land, and everyone has the right to use them. In Scotland, there are fewer designated rights of way than in England and Wales; instead, walkers have a “right to roam,” meaning that they can traverse almost any open land, public or private, without the presence of a trail. As of 2000, England and Wales have a limited “right to roam” in some areas, too. (For more information on the subject, the Ramblers maintain a detailed “right to walk” FAQ.)
For longer trips, Britain is also home to a large number of epic, maintained long-distance trails. Here are some of the best.