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The best walking routes to explore from the city with no need for a car


If you're dreaming of getting away from the non-stop rush city life, it often seems like you need to book both time off and a flight far far away. 

But the simple pleasure of just stepping outside of the city, and taking a country walk is deeply underrated. Although the countryside seems inaccessible if you don't have a car, and just getting to your destination can take up a large percentage of your day out - many beautiful walking routes are easy to get to by train in around an hour from big cities like London, Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield. It is more than possible to find well-loved routes that take in a hearty country pub for lunch, as well as a tea stop or break before hopping on the train back. 

With the help of the Saturday Walking Club, and other walking websites, we've rounded up ten of our favourite routes that are accessible by train and can be done in a day - getting you away from it all, baggage free.

The routes have been graded from easy to hard depending on their length, and whether they include steep uphill sections.

The Greensand Ridge, Buckinghamshire


Around 1 hour from Euston station, London

Route: From Bow Brickhill to Leighton Buzzard

About: Heading through a wood, before tracing the Grand Union Canal, this walk is simple and straightforward, connecting you to two train stations that whizz you back to London. The route takes around four hours just for walking, but including pub stops and the train journey it makes for a perfect day out.

Difficulty and length: Easy, around four hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Old Red Lion, Great Brickhill is situated halfway through the route, or The Globe Inn in Leighton Buzzard comes around half an hour before the end

Find the full walk on walkingclub.org.uk

Hathersage, Derbyshire


Around 1 hour from Manchester, or 20 minutes from Sheffield 

Route: Circular around the Hathersage Moor and Padley Gorge

About: A beautiful walk in summer, when the heather is in bloom, this walk takes you along the hillside and down in the valley before going back up to the area called Surprise View, where there is indeed a beautiful view.

Difficulty and length: Medium, around two to three hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Fox House and the Millstone Inn make a welcome relief en route, or The George Inn back in town will give you a place for a rewarding drink at the end

Find the full walk on walkingenglishman.com

Medway Valley, Kent


Around 1 hour from London Bridge station

Route: From Leigh to Tunbridge Wells

About: Passing by the stately home of Penhurst Place, with a rich Elizabethan history, following through to the Victorian favourite of Royal Tunbridge Wells, this walk combines the beautiful sights of Kent with a bit of historical colour for those who want a destination to make a full day out of their walk (the walking takes around five hours).

Difficulty and length: Medium, around five and a half hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Spotted Dog or The Bottle House Inn are both midway through the walk, or once you arrive in Tunbridge Wells, Woods Restaurant makes for a welcome break

Find the full walk on walkingclub.org.uk

The Three Lochs, Argyll and Bute


Around 50 minutes from Glasgow Queen Street station, Scotland

Route: From Balloch to Inveruglas, in four stages: from Balloch to Helensburgh, Helensburgh to Garelochhead, Garelochhead to Arrochar and Arrochar to Inveruglas

About: The Three Lochs Way walk is one of Scotland's Great Trails, a series of stunning walks through the scenic Scotch countryside, but if you choose just one of the four stages, it can make for a beautiful lochside day out. The first stage, Balloch to Helensburgh, for instance, takes around three hours.

Difficulty and length: Medium to hard (depending on the stage), three hours walking time for the first stage.

Pub breaks: The Dog House in Balloch for a lunch before you start the first stage, or The Commodore in Helensburgh at the end of it offer welcoming bookends to the walk

Find the full walk on threelochsway.co.uk

Box Hill, Surrey


Around 50 minutes from Victoria station, London

Route: Dorking to Reigate

About: This route, up the picturesque Box Hill to look at the surrounding villages as if they were a toy town, passes one of the churches used in Four Weddings and a Funeral and ends in the lovely town of Reigate.

Difficulty and length: Easy, around three and a half hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Dolphin Inn breaks up the route, or save yourself for an afternoon tea at the quaint Vintage Tea House in Reigate

Find the full walk on walkingclub.org.uk

Ilkley, West Yorkshire


Around 30 minutes from Leeds station

Route: Circular around Ilkley Moor

About: The gorgeous Yorkshire town of Ilkley offers stunning views of the countryside alongside the chocolate-box town. There are many routes over the moors, but our favourite is the scramble over the rocks by the Cow and Calf pub before returning for a hearty meal.

Difficulty and length: Medium, around one and a half hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Cow and Calf pub is hard to beat, or the classic Yorkshire treat of Betty's Tea Rooms in town where you can treat yourself to their famous Fat Rascal scones

Find the full walk on ilkleymoor.org

Pangbourne, Berkshire


Around 1 hour from Paddington station, London

Route: A circular route around Pangbourne and the neighbouring village of Whitchurch

About: This is a lovely yomp above the top area of the Thames, taking in some woodland and gorgeous views over the valley with a perfectly positioned rest stop halfway through.

Difficulty and length: Easy, around four hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Sun Inn midway through, and/or the George Hotel back in town

Find the full walk on walkingclub.org.uk

Edale, Derbyshire


Around 40 minutes from Sheffield or Manchester

Route: A circular route around Edale valley

About: The Peak District offers a seemingly endless array of views, and the valley of Edale gives fantastic views of the dramatic hillsides when you climb to its top. The walk is steep, but worth it once you reach the top, and takes four to five hours to complete in total.

Difficulty and length: Medium to hard, around four hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The Rambler Inn in Edale does exactly what it says on the tin

Find the full walk on walkingbritain.co.uk

South Downs Way, East Sussex

South Downs

Around 1 hour 30 minutes from Paddington station, London

Route: Glynde to Seaford

About: This is only part of the famous South Downs Way, but takes in some of its best views. The Walking Club name it among their favourites and it is a must for anybody who has got the walking bug and wants to try something a little more difficult.

Difficulty and length: Hard, around seven hours walking time.

Pub breaks: The George Inn or Ye Olde Smugglers Inne in Alfrison are a welcome break halfway through, and once you are in Seaford there are plenty of fish and chip shops for a reward for all your hard work

Find the full walk on walkingclub.org.uk

The Lake District, Cumbria


Around 2 hours from Manchester

Route: Various routes from Ambleside

About: It would be difficult to discuss walks in the UK without mentioning its most picturesque walking destination - the Lake District. Full of walking options, some involving hardy hill climbing, others a gentle stroll along the banks of the lakes. It definitely makes sense to plan an overnight stay to enjoy the stunning scenery properly, but it is possible to get into the heart of the Lakes via train, before finding your start point on a bus. More effort than just a day out, but worth it.

Difficulty and length: Medium to hard, depending on which route you choose, walking time from two to seven hours

Pub breaks: The Golden Rule and The Eltermere Inn near Ambleside are both highly rated, and the Waterhead Town House Hotel offers a comfy rest for the night.

Find various walk options on walkingclub.org.uk

Words: Victoria Gray, Images: Rex Features



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