Lochs and lakes, coast and crags, moors and mountains … you're never far from a spectacular walk in the UK. Here are 10 fab weekend itineraries in stunning scenery.
by Phoebe Smith
Langdale Valley, Lake District
Tucked away deep in Lakeland is Langdale, where peaks rise like serrated knife-edges and soaring pyramids. To explore these fells, base yourself at Great Langdale campsite and spend your first day up high, exploring the craggy Langdale Pikes. A refreshing post-walk ale awaits at the Hiker's Bar in the legendary Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, where you can swap stories of your wanderings. For your second day, take in the perfect pairing of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, which offer views of every group of fells in the Lake District national park. Both walks start at your tent, so no need to drive anywhere all weekend.
• Camping at Great Langdale (01539 432733, nationaltrust.org.uk) from £8 pp; yurts and heated pods also available
Alfriston, South Downs
Want a quick escape from the capital? Try the South Downs and its rolling hills, sleepy villages and cracking coastline. The characterful George Inn is a perfect base from which to experience all of the above. Take a day to skirt the River Cuckmere down to the sea and admire the dazzling chalk cliffs from below, before heading up to walk atop the Seven Sisters to Birling Gap (where welcome refreshments await) before heading back. Another great walk awaits if you head west, exploring the network of paths around the mischievously named Devils Rest Bottom and over towards Red Lion Pond, utilising the handy South Downs Way on your return.
• Doubles at the George (01323 870319, thegeorge-alfriston.com) from £70 B&B
Ancient stone circles, weathered, rocky tors slicing the sky, and Bronze Age hill forts… when it comes to exploring, Devon's rugged interior is hard to beat. As wild camping here is legal in Devon take a tent and find your own spot. For a good two-dayer, head north from Ivybridge following the Two Moors Way. Check out the longest known stone row in the world on Erme Plains before heading to Higher Hartor Tor for stunning views. Find your way back to civilisation the following day, picking your way across this completely wild yet accessible landscape.
• For information on where to camp see dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index
Rhyd Ddu, Snowdonia
For a weekend of two distinct halves you can't beat Rhyd Ddu. On day one walk Wales' highest mountain, Snowdon, via the Rhyd Ddu Path. Enjoy a brew at the summit cafe before heading down the Llanberis Path, into the town of Llanberis, and make a beeline for Pete's Eats for hearty post-walk grub. Take the Sherpa bus back to your start. On day two, head west for the Nantlle Ridge (starting at Y Garn and heading to Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd), a roller coaster of undulating peaks. End in Beddgelert for a tasty ice-cream, then ride the Welsh Highland Railway back to Rhyd Ddu.
• Doubles at the Cwellyn Arms (01766 890321, snowdoninn.co.uk) from £70 B&B
Torridon, North Highlands
It's known for its huge mountains, but if you come here without taking in the delights of the North Highlands coast, you're missing out. Starting at Lower Diabaig, head north, keeping the sea loch to your left and peaks to your right. Continue all the way to Redpoint, with its orange sand beach and towering dunes, but make sure you return back in time to spend a night at Craig. Once a remote youth hostel, this is now a bothy (think stone tent, so remember your camping gear) and provides a unique shelter. Head back to Diabaig early and you might have time to take in the mighty Beinn Alligin.
• Craig Bothy is free, but the Mountain Bothies Association (mountainbothies.org.uk), which is run by volunteers, welcomes donations
Rannoch Moor, Perthshire
If you live in London, hop on the sleeper Friday night and you'll wake up on Saturday morning raring to go at Rannoch Station. This walk starts there, and heads across a moorland patchwork, the towering monoliths of Glencoe in the far distance. Your overnight stop will be at the converted Station House in Corrour, made famous by the film version of Trainspotting. An early start on Sunday will see you taking in the ever-changing landscape along the Lairig Leacach to Spean Bridge, from where you take the sleeper train back, arriving first thing Monday – a weekend of walking with no time lost in transit.
• Corrour Station House (01397 732236, syha.org.uk) from £29.50pp pn B&B
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path,
Taking on the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in a weekend is perhaps a tad ambitious, but if you start at Newport and aim to get to Pwll Deri for Sunday, with a break in Fishguard en route, you'll enjoy a digestible bite-sized slice. To spice it up, first head inland and check out the dominating rocky flanks of Carn Ingli (Angel Mountain), which a local saint is said to have climbed to find serenity back in the fifth century. Once you've found your peace (or simply explored the remains of its intricate hill fort), head back to the seaside and begin your journey south.
• Camp at Fishguard Bay (01348 811415, fishguardbay.com) from £10.50 per night
Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales
Harry Potter camped on top of it, James Ward created a huge painting of it, and William Wordsworth wrote a sonnet for it – so it's about time you paid a visit to Malham. For a campsite to rival all others, pitch at Gordale Scar, at the bottom of the crumbling ravine. Wake up and scramble up it, over to shimmering Malham Tarn, then on to the limestone pavement above the cathedral of rock that is Malham Cove. Head back via Janet's Foss – a waterfall named after the fairy queen who is said to inhabit it. Next morning, go west to Attermire Scar, a dramatic cliff, then enjoy views of Pen-y-ghent as you head back to your tent.
• Camping at Gordale Scar (01729 830333), £3pp plus £3 a tent and £2 a car
Mourne mountains, Co Down
The 22- mile Mourne Wall, built between 1904 and 1922, rises and falls over 15 of the highest Mourne mountains. The hills themselves are a magical mix of rugged tors, rocky outcrops and granite slabs, and are said to be the inspiration behind CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The length is perfect to split between two days, starting and finishing at the Silent Valley, with a stay at Trassey Bridge in the middle.
• Meelmore Lodge (028 4372 5949, meelmorelodge.com): camping from £6pp, B&B private room from £22pp, B&B dorm accommodation from £16 pp;
Crowden, Peak District
When Keira Knightley stood on Stanage Edge in Pride and Prejudice, it became synonymous with the Peaks – but there is so much more to this place. Start at Crowden, where, either side of the A628, two fantastic circular walks await. The first goes south, courtesy of the Pennine Way, to Bleaklow. This atmospheric and often eerie moor is scattered with the wreckage of the B-29 Superfortress aircraft that crashed here in 1948, and is often swathed in poppies. A second loop takes you north along the lip of the surprisingly exposed Laddow Rocks to the summit of Black Hill, then back via Tooleyshaw Moss.
• Crowden YHA (0845 371 9113, yha.org.uk) from £10 per night
Phoebe Smith isfeatures editor of Trail magazine
For further information on UK walking routes see lfto.com, walkingbritain.co.uk and walking-routes.co.uk