No matter where you live, from concrete jungle to rural idyl, there is no better way to understand and appreciate all that your surroundings have to offer than getting out and exploring. Whilst an unplanned wander can surprise and delight, it can be a little daunting. Thankfully there are wealth of walks that have been plotted and mapped to ensure that when you venture out, you have a chance of seeing the best that that area can offer. Although we're quite happy heading out without a plan, we've found some wonderful collections of routes that have taken us to some wonderful sights. So go on, get out...side!
The AA guide helps explore the best of The Peak District with 50 themed walks, each with fascinating background reading. All walks are graded for difficulty and ascent, with clear and easy-to-follow directions for every walk.
Walk 12 - Marching Roads and Battlefields (Castleton)
Walk 14 - Alport's Castles in the Clouds (Alport Castles)
Walk 15 - A High Ridge and Lost Villages at Ladybower (Ladybower Reservoir)
Walk 21 - On the Edge at Stanage (Hathersage)
Walk 27 - Through Monsal Dale, the Valley of the Gods (Ashford-in-the-Water)
Walk 29 - Linacre's Peaceful Retreat from Chesterfield (Chesterfield)
Walk 33 - Ancient Circles, Barrows and Stones (Arbor Low)
Walk 34 - Birds, Beasts and Butterflies at Tittesworth (Tittesworth Reservoir)
Walk 35 - Lud's Church and the Roaches (The Roaches)
Walk 36 - Pilsbury Castle and the Upper Dove Valley (Hartington)
Walk 38 - In the Lair of the White Worm (Grindon)
Walk 40 - Scaling the Heights of Abraham (Matlock Bath)
Walk 41 - Ilam and the Compleat Angler (Ilam)
Walk 44 - Skeletons from the Past (Carsington Reservoir)
Walk 45 - Cromford and the Black Rocks (Cromford)
Walk 46 - Climbing up to Crich in search of Cardale (Crich)
Walk 48 - Among Aristocracy at Osmaston and Shirley Parks (Osmaston)
Walk 49 - Mackworth and Markeaton: a Rural Idyll (Mackworth)
The Amber Valley area offers many opportunities for walkers, horse riders and cyclists of all abilities to get out and about. There's a wide variety of way-marked routes that include spectacular scenery, quaint villages and fascinating local history. The Amber Valley Routeways is a series of circular walks and rides along public footpaths and bridleways throughout the Amber Valley.
It’s easy to forget just how green London is - this engaging walk offers a chance to savour some of the capital’s most glorious scenery. 15 easily walked sections divide these 78 miles of open spaces - magically retained within London’s suburbs as Metroland spread outwards - and leave you free to enjoy it all at your own pace.
Along the way the commons and open spaces form important nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest and there are over 50 surprising places to discover: from the Art Deco splendour of Eltham Palace to historic Abney Park Cemetery. You can picnic in the splendour of metropolitan parks that are once grand country estates or wind your way through parcels of tranquillity under the canopy of the Great North Wood.
What ever your age you'll enjoy looking out for those industrious Wombles as you cross Wimbledon Common and tracking deer as you roam through Richmond Park. There's plenty of waterside walking too along the Thames, it's tributaries, the man made Grand Union Canal and the 17th Century New River (which continues to supply London's drink water) - and it's all with 10 miles of Charing Cross.
Walk 1 - Bow to Falconwood (sections 14, 15 and 1)
Walk 2 - Falconwood to Streatham (sections 2, 3 and 4)
Walk 3 - Streatham to Osterley Lock (sections 5, 6 and 7)
Walk 4 - Osterley Lock to Hendon (sections 8, 9 and 10)
Walk 5 - Hendon to Bow (sections 11, 12 and 13)
Completed - 11 April 2015
The canal ran 14.5 miles (23.3km) from Cromford to the Erewash Canal with a branch to Pinxton. It was completed in 1794 and included four tunnels and 14 locks. The decline in use, due to competition from the railways and costly repair bills, meant that between 1937 and 1962 the canal fully closed down. However it wasn't long after this that interested parties came together to discuss the restoration of the waterway. The restored 6 mile (9.7km) section between Cromford and Ambergate is listed as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a local nature reserve.
The river Derwent runs for 55 miles (88.5km) from Ladybower Reservoir in the northern Peak District to the River Trent at Shardlow, south of Derby. The Derwent Valley Heritage Way has been developed by the Derwent Valley Trust and runs along footpaths and bridleways close to the river along its whole length.
The Grand Union Canal links London to Birmingham, passing through rolling countryside, industrial towns and peaceful villages. It is our longest canal, the ‘trunk route’ of the system. Yet competition from the railways and the narrow size of its locks meant that this mammoth waterway had to fight hard to survive in the early 20th Century.
There's plenty to see along the Grand Union Canal. From the vibrant heart of London, it leads you out into the rolling Chiltern Hills, through rural Northamptonshire and Warwickshire and into the Birmingham suburbs.
The canal’s striking historic features include the dramatic span of the Iron Trunk Aqueduct and the steeply climbing Hatton Lock Flight, set in charming Warwickshire countryside. Take a walk and marvel at the engineering. The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne gives a fascinating glimpse into this waterway’s past.
Walk 1 - Slough Arm and Paddington Arm
Walk 2 - Old Brentford to West Drayton
Walk 3 - West Drayton to Hemel Hempstead
Walk 4 - Hemel Hempstead to Wendover
Leave the bustle of city life behind for the green fingers of parks, woodlands and fields that embrace the capital from the River Thames to Nunhead Cemetery. You don’t have to walk all 50 miles in a day so first investigate the 11 easy to follow sections online. Thank goodness the planners saved these 300 green and pleasant spaces from development in the late 1970’s; they are a welcome balance to the rest of city life.
Marvel at the modern-day magnificence of the Thames Barrier before winding your way south through picturesque parks and commons. Look out for historic monuments like the 18th century Gothic folly of Severndroog Castle and the Art Deco glamour of Eltham Palace. Relax besides tranquil lakes and rivers – there’s often a fine display of birds at Southmere among the boats and fishermen. Climb the steps to Cox’s Mount and enjoy breathtaking views.
There are literally dozens of parks to enjoy - from the open common at Plumstead to the Local Nature Reserve at Oxleas Woods. And don’t forget Crystal Palace Park – which has been entertaining generations with its wildlife and dinosaurs!
Walk 1 - Lesnes Abbey to the Thames Barrier (sections 1, 2, 3 and 5)
Walk 2 - Charlton Park to Mottingham (sections 4 and 6)
Walk 3 - Shepherdleas Wood to Chislehurst (sections 7, 8 and 9)
Walk 4 - Beckenham Place Park to Nunhead Cemetery (sections 10 and 11)
Completed: 26 February 2017
The High Peak Trail follows the trackbed of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway, which was completed in 1831 to carry minerals and goods between the Cromford Canal wharf at High Peak Junction and the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. It was one of Britain's earliest railways and one of the highest lines ever to be built. The line was closed between 1963-7 and in 1971 the Peak Park Planning Board and Derbyshire Country Council brought part of the tracked (from Dowlow to Cromford) and turned it into the High Peak Trail.
Connecting central London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues with some of the capital’s best parks, attractions, heritage and views by walking or cycling the 37 mile (60 km) Jubilee Greenway Walk, much of it along the Regent’s Canal and the River Thames. Designed to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 60th anniversary this is one of the best ways to get to know London, see the city and meet its people.
You'll pass by the O2 Arena, which hosted the gymnastics, trampoline, basketball and wheelchair basketball events or make a short detour to Greenwich Park where the equestrian and modern pentathlon events took place. Stroll or pedal your way alongside the river to Whitehall to see Horse Guards Parade which was transformed into courts for beach handball. Dip your toe - or more if it's warm enough - into the Serpentine at Hyde Park where the 10k open water swim took place and imagine the speed and excitement of the road cycling which reached its conclusion in Regent's Park.
Walk 1 - Greenwich to Buckingham Palace (sections 7, 8 and 9)
Walk 2 - Victoria Park to Greenwich (sections 4, 5 and 6)
Walk 3 - Limehouse Basin to Buckingham Palace (sections 10, 3, 2 and 1)
Completed: 30 August 2015
Essential London - you really couldn't be anywhere else. A classic collection of the capital's most iconic landmarks awaits you on The Jubilee Walkway. Designed to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, the original route connects all of the city's most famous sights, from Buckingham Palace to the stately dome of St. Paul's.
Later, to celebrate Her Majesty's 50 years' reign two additional loops were added encompassing Bloomsbury and the City itself.
Marvel at the majesty of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral then shudder at the fate of traitors passing through the Tower of London. Join the throng across the Thames at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and let the array of arts and antiquities inspire you in the Tate Modern and British Museum. And it's an entertaining stroll from the silver screens of Leicester Square to the ceremonial pageantry of Horse Guards Parade in St. James's Park.
Walk the Walkway at different times - by day and then again by night when the main sights are illuminated to spectacular effect. It's a unique route linking entertainment, assembly, ceremony, open-air activity and indeed our nation's history.
Walk 1 - The City Loop (section 3)
Walk 2 - The Camden Loop (section 4)
Walk 3 - The Eastern Loop (section 2)
Walk 4 - The Western Loop (section 1) and The Jubilee Loop (section 5)
Completed: 9 September 2015
The Lea Valley Walk is a long-distance path starting in Leagrave, the source of the River Lea near Luton, and finishing at the River Thames (Limehouse Basin near Canary Wharf). The walk was opened in 1993 and uses a swan logo as its signage.
The Limestone Way, named for the limestone scenery along its route, runs through the White Peak of the Peak District National Park from Castleston, Derbyshire down to Rocester, Staffordshire. Originally the Limestone Way ran into Matlock, via Bonsall, but it was diverted to the current route (46 miles) to join up with the Staffordshire Way, however the route into/out of Matlock is still waymarked.
Walking the London Outer Orbital Path (the LOOP for short) is a great way to get to know London better. At nearly 152 miles, some like to think of it as the ‘M25 for walkers’ – but it’s a world away from the motorway and has been thoughtfully divided into 24 well marked, bite-sized stages.
Weaving around the capital the LOOP is mainly on flat or gentle sloping surfaces with only some sections requiring a bit more puff!
The LOOP Walk reveals relics of London’s colourful past from impressive stately residences such as Hall Place to emotive monuments like the Wilberforce memorial to the abolition of slavery. There’s even a shot tower once used to make gunpowder. You don't have to be a military buff to enjoy a Thameside 'graveyard' for concrete D-Day barges or to explore Kenley Aerodrome the atmospheric former war-time air base.
The easy stages allow you to enjoy the route at your own pace. You can pause to indulge in some 'retail therapy' at bustling towns like Kingston-upon-Thames or enjoy a picnic in peace among green open spaces like Bushy Royal Park or along the rivers and canals.
Walk 1 - Erith to Petts Wood (sections 1 and 2)
Walk 2 - Petts Wood to Hamsey Green (sections 3 and 4)
Walk 3 - Hamsey Green to Ewell (sections 5, 6 and 7)
Walk 4 - Ewell to Hatton Cross (sections 8 and 9)
Walk 5 - Hatton Cross to Harefield West (sections 10, 11 and 12)
Walk 6 - Harefield West to Elstree (sections 13, 14 and 15)
Walk 7 - Elstree to Cockfosters (section 16)
Walk 8 - Cockfosters to Chingford (sections 17 and 18)
Walk 9 - Chingford to Harold Wood (sections 19, 20 and 21)
Walk 10 - Harold Wood to Purfleet (sections 22, 23 and 24)
Completed: 8 January 2017
The Midshires Way is a 230 miles (370km) footpath and bridleway which runs from the Chiltern Hills near Bledlow, Buckinghamshire, through the Midlands counties (Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire), to Stockport, Greater Manchester. It opened in 1994 in collaboration between numerous Local Authorities and user groups.
Walk 1 - Nr. High Peak Junction to Middleton Top (part of a High Peak Trail walk)
Walk 2 - Nr. High Peak Junction to Ambergate
Walk 3 - Manystones Cutting to High Peak Junction (part of a Limestone Way walk)
The challenge is simple - visit all 22 property squares on the Monopoly Board, and visit or find a representation of the 4 stations, 2 utilities, Go, Jail, Go To Jail, Free Parking, Income Tax, Super Tax, Chance, Community Chest squares, plus find the Player Tokens and, if possible, the Banker. Simple!
The New River is neither new nor a river. It is a water supply aqueduct, completed in 1613, to bring drinking water from Hertfordshire to North London. Since 1992, Thames Water has worked with local people and partners to create a 45 km [28 mile] long-distance footpath that follows the course of the New River, linking the inner city to the open countryside. The route follows, wherever possible, the historic water channel, as well as some straightened and piped sections between the New River`s starting point near Hertford to its original end in Islington. The route is waymarked throughout its length and all signs display the Path logo.
The North Downs Way National Trail opened in 1978 and runs from Farnham, Surrey to Dover, Kent, via Guildford, Dorking, Rochester, along the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Kent Downs AONB. Planning began in 1950 and after an extensive survey, it was agreed that a route on "a line which offers the best scenic qualities for the walker" along the ridge of the North Downs, rather than the Pilgrim's Way (the historical route supposed to have been taken by pilgrims from Winchester, Hampshire to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, Kent). The eastern section of the trail splits in two with the northern path running via Canterbury and the southern via Wye, both ending at Dover.
Walk 1 - Farnham to Guildford
The Thames Path is a long distance walking trail, following England's best known river for 184 miles (294 Km) as it meanders from its source in the Cotswolds through several rural counties and on into the heart of London. On its way the Trail passes peaceful water meadows rich in wildlife, historic towns and cities and many lovely villages, finishing at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich just a few miles from the sea.
Easy to reach by public transport, the Thames Path is a gentle trail, able to be walked by people of all ages and abilities. This National Trail can be enjoyed in many ways, whether for an afternoon's stroll, a weekend's break or a full scale, but relatively gentle, trek of its whole length.
Walk 1 - Hampton Court to Kew Bridge
Walk 2 - Kew Bridge to Chelsea Bridge
Walk 3 - Chelsea Bridge to River Lea/East India Docks
Walk 4 - River Darent to North Greenwich
Walk 5 - North Greenwich to Vauxhall
Walk 6 - Vauxhall to Teddington
Walk 7 - Teddington to Staines-upon-Thames
Walk 8 - Staines-upon-Thames to Windsor