We unearth the UK's hidden walking gems


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Latest update 29.08.2013 14:59

To celebrate the launch of The Great British Walk annual walking festival, we have revealed the top ten secret trails that can only be accessed by foot.

The list has been carefully selected by our experts who wanted to showcase walks that offered a unique experience whether a hidden viewpoint, newly accessible coastal paths or the story of an old legend.

The Great British Walk, which is sponsored by PruHealth, hopes to encourage the nation to explore and share the many special places the Trust looks after for the nation.

Creating the top ten walks
The top ten walks have been put together following research showing that nearly a quarter of adults (22%) said they rarely go for walks, while 17% never venture more than 500 metres from their car. Despite this, 68% described a feeling of euphoria on reaching the summit of a walk or an amazing viewpoint and eight out of ten (80%) said walking makes them feel happy.

We have a summary of each of our top 10 walks and you can download each walk as a pdf.

1. The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
The land successfully acquired by us last year is included in this breathtaking walk, which allows you to walk to the South Foreland Lighthouse and see a previously hidden view across this iconic landscape.

2. Minnowburn, Northern Ireland
The Giant's Ring is the largest henge in Ireland. It was built around the same time as Stonehenge and Avebury in 2,700BC, but its story is little known. This two mile walk starting from the car-park reveals a hidden side to the well known city of Belfast, which lies less than three miles away.

3. Erddig, Wales
A love story between two of Erddig’s family servants has been brought to life in a walk taking in rarely visited parts of the estate. Retrace the footsteps of where the lovers met and see for yourself, through treasured mementoes how romance blossomed.

4. Sizergh Castle, south Lake District
Hidden and hard to find – the secret here is a 1,600 year old yew tree, buried deep in the woods.

5. Sparrow Dale, Sheringham Park, Norfolk
Often overlooked by visitors to the park, Sparrow Dale is a hidden valley that’s perfect for wildlife lovers. It has a wide variety of trees making it a great place to spot birds of prey.

6. Dunstanburgh castle, Northumberland coast
Many may know the castle but few people walk around the back to see the breathtaking views of the remains, its hidden cliffs and volcanic rocks.

7. Malham Waterfall, Yorkshire Dales
The path leads to a magical waterfall where walkers will discover a secret cave. Local legend says the cave is home to the Queen of the Fairies, so making wishes is a must.

8. Trelissick, Cornwall
Overlooking the Fal estuary, this walk leads you much further into the estate than many usually venture to a secluded, iron-age fort.

9. Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Explore never before seen parts of the Stowe estate – including a secret garden hidden for many years surrounded by monuments and waterfalls.

10. Attingham, Shropshire
A path, newly opened up for the Great British Walk, allows visitors to share a rare view of the front of Attingham House, previously only reserved for privileged guests of the owners, the Berwick family, when they lived there.

Survey results
According to the survey’s findings, one in three Brits (64 per cent) wish they got out and walked more, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) admitting to walking less than five miles a month. A further 19 per cent said they walk only five to ten miles a month, with just 7 per cent walking over 50 miles per month.

  • 22 per cent have abandoned a walk half way through and turned around. A quarter (27 per cent) admit to using public transport or a car to complete a walk, though over half (57 per cent) said it feels like ‘cheating’ to not complete a walk.
  • 84 per cent stated the best thing about walking is the places or things they discover en-route, and three quarters (73 per cent) said that it is the memories made with friends and family. 89% simply enjoy the feeling of being in the fresh air, with 69 per cent revealing that walking leaves them feeling ‘revived’.
  • Nine out of ten (90 per cent) agreed that the majority of children walk less now than when they were children, with a third (61 per cent) stating they walked more as a child than they do today. Over half (58 per cent) said they wished their children got out and walked more and 70% that they would like to go on more family walks together.
  • A quarter (27 per cent) revealed they do not walk as much as they’d like as they are not fit enough for long walks, and a third (31 per cent) blame the weather as a barrier.

Alex Hunt , lead on outdoor engagement, commented:
'Our research showed that 64 per cent of people are keen to get out and walk more, with 89 per cent agreeing walking is one of life’s simple pleasures. The Great British Walk is all about celebrating the outdoors and discovering new places on foot. There is something magical about walking somewhere new and uncovering its story, and the Great British Walk is the perfect way to discover something new.

'We hope the nation use their feet this autumn to get outdoors and explore, and then share with us their photos of their experiences.'

Dr Katie Tryon, head of clinical Vitality at PruHealth, sponsor of the Great British Walks commented:
'Walking is a wonder therapy that stimulates all the senses and can transform your life. It’s a wonderful way to relax, relieve stress and help lift your mood as it encourages the release of serotonin, the natural feel good chemical, as well as endorphins, known as happy hormones. It can also re-energise you and help you sleep better. Most of all it’s just a great excuse to get outside and explore the world around you, discovering new surprises along the way and what’s more, it’s free.'

Get involved with this years Great British Walk
Following the success of last year’s Great British Walk, in addition to the ten new secret discovery walks there are now also 700 downloadable walks on our website with over 200 properties taking part in organised walks and over 2,000 walking events.

These walks vary from coastal walks in Dorset, to a refreshing two-mile walk for yoga enthusiasts at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, giving the chance to perform yoga in stunning surroundings. For Hallowe'en fans there’s a spooky night time walk at Penrose Estate in Cornwall in October and animal lovers can enjoy a wildlife walk through nature reserves such as Wicken Fen, so there really is something for everyone.

Share your walking photos with us
We are encouraging everyone to join in with the Great British Walk, get out for a walk and share your walking photos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at #GBwalk.

Find out more and download a walk and join the thousands of others celebrating the Great British Walk with us this autumn.