In an ITV special, Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba revealed Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks, as voted by walking enthusiasts. Here we look at the top five which are all located close to fantastic YHA hostels.
1. Helvellyn, Cumbria
The Lake District’s third highest peak has been voted as the nation’s favourite walk. The shortest option starting from Thirlmere is just to go up to the summit via the Helvellyn Gill path and come back down the same way which takes approximately four hours. If you’d prefer a longer circular route you can continue over Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon and follow the path back to the start, which would take nearer six hours. On a clear day, the views of the Lake District are magnificent, and you can see all the way out to the Irish Sea. If you’re planning to do this hike, remember that the Helvellyn walk can be dangerous in bad weather conditions, so take extra care.
2. Snowdon, Gwynedd
Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) is the highest mountain in Wales and England. Standing over the village of Llanberis, Snowdon is a part of a series of jagged peaks. Choose from six different paths to master this 1,085 metre (3,560 feet) giant which are the Llanberis path, Pyg Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path or the Snowdon Ranger Path. The views on offer are of Snowdonia, Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and Ireland. If you have little legs with you and can’t quite make it to the top, there are also plenty of lower-level walks to try. You might even spot the Snowdon Lily, a rare flower that has survived on the mountain since the Ice Age.
Where to stay? Situated at the foot of the magnificent Mount Snowdon, over 1,000ft above sea level, YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass is the perfect choice for climbing holidays and budding mountaineers. Or there’s YHA Idwal Cottage, YHA’s second longest standing hostel which is eco-friendly and offers superb Snowdonia accommodation.
3. Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales
A delightful walk around the wildlife-rich waters of Malham Tarn sees the Yorkshire Dales at its best. Head towards Malham Cove and the dramatic pavement of limestone slabs that you may recognise from films, (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One), Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights) or discover the waterfall hidden amongst trees at Janet’s Foss – rumoured to be the home of Janet, Queen of the Fairies. Take the track past a couple of boat houses and look out for oystercatchers, lapwings and redshanks around the shallows of the lake. It’s a three and a half mile walk that should take you just over two hours.
Where to stay? Set just a short distance from Malham Tarn, YHA Malham offers comfortable Pennine Way accommodation in the heart of the beautiful Dales village. A little further afield is YHA Kettlewell an award-winning hostel that is super friendly with hearty homemade food and is a wonderful base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales.
4. Cat Bells, Cumbria
On the edge of Derwentwater, Cat Bells is another Lake District gem. This fell will provide sensational panoramic views over Keswick, Derwentwater and Borrowdale. It was a favourite of Beatrix Potter who used the surrounding landscape as her inspiration for her animal tales. The name Cat Bells possibly stems for days gone by when wild cats still roamed the countryside. It’s a three hour walk if you take the lake path through the wooded shoreline. Perfect for all ages.
Where to stay? Overlooking the River Greta and Fitz Park, with far reaching views to Latrigg and Skiddaw, YHA Keswick is ideally placed for days out in the North Lakes Fells.
5. Scafell Pike, Cumbria
Climbing Scafell Pike is a serious undertaking and should not be underestimated — taking up to three or four hours to get to the top, dependent on the weather. England’s highest mountain is 978 meters (3,200 feet) above sea level so you could find yourself climbing above the clouds. A roller coaster of rocky summits and towering crags, on a clear day you’ll be wowed by the spectacular views in every direction. Start your walk from Wasdale village green for the shortest and easiest climb up.
Where to stay? YHA Black Sail is a remote hostel where you can really go off grid. Accessible only on foot, it’s a unique rural retreat for lovers of the great outdoors. Located in a traffic-free valley, it’s as tranquil as a stay in the Lakes gets. Other hostels close by are YHA Borrowdale and YHA Eskdale.