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Grab your comfiest hiking shoes, pack your water bottle, whizz up your favourite snacks and get over to your nearest top-rated hiking trail, as voted for by Merrell Hiking Club members, before the days start getting significantly shorter.  

We’re probably entering the best time of the year for hiking. There’s a fleeting window from mid-August to early September when the sun lights up the countryside, the leaves are in the process of turning gold and the heat isn’t as harsh as it is earlier in the season. It’s the perfect time to lace up and get out there, using precious pockets of annual leave and weekends to explore some of our best UK-grown natural wonders, rather than spending hours stuck in a queue at Heathrow.

We asked members of the Merrell Hiking Club for their favourite hikes around the UK, and they came up with trails up and down the country. No matter where you live, you’re never far from an incredible view or remote pathway – as the club’s top 10 treks prove. 

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Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar, Yorkshire

Head up to the Dales to check out what Malham has to offer.

A village nestled in the Yorkshire Dales on the Pennine Way, Mallam is famous for its spectacular geology and picturesque views. Gordale Scar is an incredible waterfall/gorge that was produced as a result of melting glaciers about three million years ago, while Malham’s also famous for excellent local food and drink (including Yorkshire Chorizo).

Try the challenging, circular walk to Malham Tarn (a large fresh-water lake), passing through Malham Tarn House and dramatic limestone valleys. Look out for waterfalls, lakes, ravines and coves.

Distance: 7.6 miles (12.2km)

Estimated walk time: 3 hours 32 minutes

Difficulty: challenging

Find the Malham Tarn via Gordale Scar route on AllTrails

Snowdon via Crib Goch, Wales

Another challenging hike, this is one of the longest routes on the list and it’s definitely one to do before the end of September to avoid potentially treacherous conditions. 

You’ll have to tackle a grade 1 scramble/climb up to the top, but in Merrell Hiking Club (MHC) member Holly’s opinion, the hard work is “well worth the amazing views and sense of accomplishment once you’ve reached the top”. Take it slowly, drink in the views and keep looking up as you climb.

Distance: 6.2 miles (10.1km)

Estimated walk time: 5 hours 14 minutes

Difficulty: challenging

Find the Crib Goch walk on AllTrails

The Quiraing Circuit, Scotland

“The photos you see online do not do this place justice,” says hiker Mary. It’s stunning. But she also warns that it’s not a route to be underestimated in bad weather, so recommends checking the forecast before you head up to Grealin, on the Isle of Skye.

According to legend, The Quiraing was a meeting place for fairies and dragons; fossils suggest that dinosaurs once lived here too. Set off early to beat the crowds and make the most of the awe-inspiring landscape.

Distance: 6.2 miles (6.3km)

Estimated walk time: 2 hours 28 minutes

Difficulty: moderate

Find the Quiraing Circuit on AllTrails

Buckland Monachorum and River Walkham Circular

Buckland Monachorum boasts beautiful scenery on and off the trail.

Emma suggests people come wearing super comfy shoes for this walk. “It’s a beautiful hike with lots of different terrains,” she explains. Situated in Dartmoor National Park, this loop offers a range of landscapes to keep even the flightiest of walker interested. 

Go anticlockwise around the route to avoid a steep climb at the end (which can feel hard on tired legs), or turn it into a pub walk by making the Drakes Manor in Buckland Monachorum your start and finish point. Emma recommends finishing with a swim in the Dart river.

Distance: 6 miles (9.7km)

Estimated walk time: 2 hours 42 minutes

Difficulty: moderate

Find the Buckland Monachorum and River Walkham Circular on AllTrails

Helvellyn Circular via Striding Edge, Lake District

If you’re an experienced hiker or already pretty fit, this is a great trek to try.

According to walking enthusiast Lianne, this is “one of the Lake District’s most loved fells, with amazing views of Ullswater and Thirlmere”. She warns that it involves a scamble across the ridget and up to the summit, where you’re rewarded with “a real sense of achievement”.

Because the ascent involves proper climbing across an exposed and rocky ridge, AllTrails says that this isn’t a route for hiking newbies. Save it for next year if you’re just getting into the sport – it’s a great route to actually train for, so that your fitness, balance and quad strength are at a good level before you try to scuttle up.

Distance: 8.3 miles (13.5km)

Estimated walk time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Difficulty: challenging

Find the Helvellyn Circular via Striding Edge on AllTrails

The Cleveland Way, Yorkshire

Robin Hood’s Bay is the ultimate British seaside destination.

“One of our favourite routes is the Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay coastal walk along the Cleveland Way,” says MHC member Catherine. “It’s got great coastal views and ends up in the small fishing town of Robin Hood’s Bay, where you are usually greeted by hikers who have completed the coast to coast from St Bees.”

Once you make it to the Bay (once a notorious spot for smugglers), head to the local chippy for the freshest fish supper in the UK or the Bay Inn for a pint with a view. The beach itself is full of rock pools and fossils waiting to be found. 

Distance: 7.8 miles (12.6km)

Estimated walk time: 3 hours 27 minutes

Difficulty: easy

Find the Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay route on AllTrails

Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Circular, Peak District

The hill is known as The Dragon’s Back, and the area dates back hundreds of years.

Offering a good mix of flat strolls, heart-pumping scrambles and rocky descents, this route has everything to offer. Head one way for an uphill ascent and the other if you prefer to spend the majority of your time going down. Just make sure your knees and shoes can handle it.

The route starts from Longnor, a village named in the Domesday Book – and dating back to the Middle Ages. You’ll then head down paved roads, down country paths and up green, grassy hills. At the top of Chrome Hill, you’ll see Dragon’s Back – referring to the spikey limestone reef knoll.

Distance: 9.5 miles (15.3km)

Estimated walk time: 5 hours 06 minutes

Difficulty: challenging

Find the Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Circular on AllTrails

Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, Dorset

Durdle Door is one of the most iconic bits of Dorset.

As soon as the mercury goes above 20°C, the newspapers start publishing pictures of Durdle Door and the hoards of tourists that descend on the Jurassic Coast. Head down there towards the end of summer, however, and you’ll beat the madding crowd. 

This is probably Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmark, thanks to its interesting geological structure and azure waters. It’s part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, offering amazing coastal views for miles.

Distance: 7.02 miles (11.3km)

Estimated walk time: 3 hours 51 minutes

Difficulty: moderate

Find the Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door trail on AllTrails.

Kinder Scout via Jacob’s Ladder, Peak District

Jacob’s Ladder is at its peak beauty in the autumn.

Don’t have a spare weekend ‘till mid-September? Stick this one on your list. The scenery is especially delightful in autumn, says MHC member Helen, when the foliage boasts an array of beautiful colours.

“Once you’ve followed the path for a couple of miles – before you start to ascend Jacob’s ladder – you’ll come to a river that is perfect for swimming on a hot day.” What better way to refresh a salty, sweaty brow than with a quick dip?

Distance: 8.01 miles (12.9km)

Estimated walk time: 4 hours 12 minutes

Difficulty: moderate

Find the Jacob’s Ladder and Kinder Scout Circular on AllTrails.

Lizard Point, Cornwall

Cornwall’s incredible nature offerings are relatively well-known, but this coastal loop might just be one of the county’s best offerings. Littered with wild flowers, the path offers panoramic views of coves, rocks and turquoise sea, as well as the odd seal.

Distance: 3.1 miles (5 km)

Estimated walk time: 1 hour 19 minutes

Difficulty: easy

Find the Lizard Point Loop on AllTrails.

Merrell Hiking Club is an inclusive and encouraging digital space to explore hikes across Europe created by a community of female and non-binary Trailblazers. Join the community and conversation on Facebook. 

Images: Getty/Instagram/Merrell/Yorkshire_Blonde_Adventures

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