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There are plenty of scenic vistas on the trails in England, helping make this list of best British hikes so special.

Many hikers overlook the UK for long-term hiking options due to the oft-lamented climate and weather, but it doesn’t mean you have to overlook them for good. Sure, you may get soaked a time or two, but if you go into the experience knowing that, you can come prepared with wellies and raincoats. There are all levels of hikes for beginners up to the expert hikers and you’ll come across all sorts of landscapes to tackle. Here’s out outline of the best British hikes for travellers, in order of shortest to longest trails throughout England.

Stanage Edge

Length: 4.6 km

Average time to complete: 1—2 hours

A climbing enthusiast’s dream trail, this short walk is surrounded by hard-core thrill-seekers. Straddling sharp cliffs peppered with long-abandoned millstones, Stanage Edge is a short and reasonably easy hike through the Peak District National Park. Hikers beware, though: harsh weather conditions make this cliff walk turn dangerous quickly.

Helvellyn and Striding Edge Walk

Length: 15.8 km

Average time to complete: 5—6 hours

A strenuous trek surrounding England’s most prominent mountain, this trail involves a bit of climbing and manoeuvring along rocky cliffs. The Helvellyn and Striding Edge Walk is said to have been a favourite of William Wordsworth and Alfred Wainwright (designer of the Coast to Coast Walk, below). While inexperienced hikers may find a majority of the hike peaceful, sharp and narrow cliffs on the path’s Striding Edge portion will push adrenaline junkies to the edge.

Wessex Ridgeway Trail

Length: 100 km

Average time to complete: 1—2 days

This ridge-top route crossing the heartland of Dorset straddles the Chalk Ridge while intermittently descending into intimate valley communities, and easily makes the list of top British hikes. The Wessex Ridgeway Trail spans a route from Ashmore to Lyme Regis and follows a portion of the Great Ridgeway, an ancient highway once used as a trading route. While hikers may utilize the entire trail, a large portion is also open for cyclists and horse riders.

Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail

Length: 135 km

Average time to complete: 6—8 days

For fans of the ancient, this bracing and breathtaking walk through the moorlands of northern England provides a glimpse into life during the Roman Empire. Hadrian’s Wall National Trail follows Britain’s most iconic Roman monument, Hadrian’s Wall. Best for experienced hikers, the strong moorland winds often prove challenging to push through. Less experienced hikers are encouraged to visit between June and September, as winds tend to die down during this period.

South Downs Way

Length: 160 km

Average time to complete: 8—9 days

Speckled with quaint pubs and scenic villages, this hike is a history buff’s dream. Stretching from Winchester, the first capital of England, to the white chalk cliffs of Eastbourne, this trail meanders through South Downs National Park. Perfect for long distance walkers or cyclists, South Downs Way bills itself as a way 'to get away from it all,' while still staying near welcoming pubs.

Cotswold Way

Length: 164 km

Average time to complete: 7—12 days

Running primarily through the Cotswold escarpment, this trail passes by several historic sights. From the Roman heritage at Bath to the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap to Sudeley Castle near Winchombe, this path is never dull. As Trail Manager James Blockley writes, 'One minute you will be in internationally important wildflower meadows, the next shaded beech woodlands rich with the colour of bluebells and the scent of wild garlic. … No two days on the Cotswold Way will be the same.'

Coast to Coast Walk

Length: 309 km

Average time to complete: 12—14 days

This sea to sea walk through northern England was designed by Alfred Wainwright, but has since deviated from the original 190-mile path and is now a national trail. Often considered the ultimate British hike, Coast to Coast stretches from the Irish Sea at St. Bees to the North Sea t Robin Hood’s Bay. According to National Geographic, this walk spans 'storybook villages filled with half-timbered cottages and warmly lit pubs' and 'ancient stone circles, medieval castles and monasteries, and the legendary charm of northern England.'

Offa’s Dyke Path

Length: 285 km

Average time to complete: 14—16 days

For the Welsh history enthusiast, Offa’s Dyke Path straddles the border between England and Wales, crossing between the two regions more than 20 times. Often following the dyke ordered by King Offa in the 8th century, this trail offers a variety of relatively untouched historically significant scenery. For strong-legged hikers, walking the trail from south to north requires 28,000 feet of ascent—the same as Mt. Everest.

Thames Path

Length: 294 km

Average time to complete: 12-16 days

For the traveller looking to stay close to London, the Thames path meanders along England’s best known river to the city centre. Beginning at the river’s source near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, this path allows views of Oxford University and Henley’s elite rowing club. While not as difficult as other trails mentioned here, Thames Path is perfect for the leisurely walker seeking a tranquil getaway.

Pennine Way

Length: 429 km

Average time to complete: 16 to 22 days

A technically tricky path, Pennine Way was England’s first national trail, opened in 1965. Tracing the island’s spine, this trail is perfect for trekkers willing to devote three weeks to England’s often harsh climate as well as day hikers looking for a challenge. The classic combination of beautiful scenery and quirky villages makes this one of the country’s most visited trails.

Gather your hiking materials and read up on your favourite path from our list above and you’ll be well on your way to experiencing one of England’s very best hiking options. Protect your health and more with adventure sports cover from Cover-More New Zealand who can help out with twisted ankles and other, more serious problems that may pop up while you’re on the road. Regardless of the route you choose, you and your travelling companions will be treated to incredible views and an unbeatable personal perspective on the English countryside.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ingo Ronner