10 Best Family Walks in England

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10 Best Family Walks in England

We love to introduce you to some challenging and exciting walks for adults.

But what about trails for rug rats and ankle biters?

Yes, family walks are important, especially if you want to get your little ones to enjoy the great outdoors as much as you do yourself.

You need to recognise that in early years they won’t have quite your level of fitness and but you need to stretch them bit by bit.

Show them positive experiences of hill and mountain walking and they will associate being out with positive emotions.

That’s the way to inculcate a hobby you yourself love in them too.

Toddler Walks

A kid of 3-7 years old sees the world somewhat differently!

They may be able to terrorise your household between naps a good 12 hours a day but confront them with an eight mile walk uphill and down dale and you’ll rapidly have them ask you to carry them on your shoulders.

If you’ve ever carried a one stone wriggler on your shoulders up a steep hill, trying to keep them interested as you go, you’ll soon realise that a family walk is far preferable to an adult walk!

What does a toddler or youngster want?

Ultimately they want somewhere they can run free, still in view, untroubled by cars or too many other people to block your view of them.

They want muddy puddles!

Flowers to pick, things to do as they go.

Yes, you want to exhaust them so they can give you a bit of peace as you drive home too!

You also want a bit of interest, though pausing at a summit to enjoy the view will be almost impossible as you’re chasing after your little rat-bag!

At least for the first ten years of having progeny you will have to send your little ones to their grandparents for a few days to enjoy some proper trekking together.

To that extent in looking for the 10 best family walking areas in England, we have selected places that you could visit on a longer holiday, but most people could do with a couple of hours driving or on the train at most.

So let’s take a bimble around some of the 10 best walking areas in England – in alphabetical order!

Easy Walk To Todd Crag and Lily Tarn From Ambleside

Lake District

  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Time: 2 hours – 3 with a picnic!

With a little one the Lake District does mean lakes and not generally the mountains beckoning the trek addict from beyond!

With this little walk you can make your break for the hills, leaving Ambleside and getting up some easy slopes to appreciate the fine views from Lily Tarn.

Lily Tarn

Lots of open land here for your little monsters to run free, and as part of your break at the tarn you can have a picnic!

Pew Tor and Windy Post Cross


  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Time: 3 hours including climbing tors!

Climbing the tors of Dartmoor is at least as fun as a play park!

Watch your blood pressure as your adventurous little monsters stretch their confidence and your nerves to the limit as they explore Pew Tor and Feather Tor.

Pew Tor

This walk takes in some fine moorland views but you also get to cross a stream as you go – kids and water, eh?

Local legend has it that Pew Tor is home of the Piskie King and Piskies can be as much trouble as your kiddies in a nuclear strop!

Move on to the Feather Tor before too much fun befalls you there.

If you’re not too energetic or the PIskies have got to your little ones before you start the walk, there is plenty of ambling to be done around the car park on the Tavistock to Princetown road where this walk begins and ends.

Whipsnade to Dunstable Downs stile free walk


  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Time: 4 hours

A longer walk as these 10 best walks in England go, this is a great little stroll that takes in the Tree Cathedral – a cathedral shaped line of trees that is one of the best spots in the area.

Beyond the Tree Cathedral as you wander the undulating countryside you can have a snack or a lunch at the Dunstable Downs Visitor Centre, a place famed locally for kite flying and overhead, gliders taking advantage of the high winds above.

Southern end of the Dunstable Downs

Though it is longer, you can push a pram on this route so if little legs get too tired you have the option of pushing instead of carrying!

The Whipsnade Zoo is nearby too so you can make a day of it, just 20 minutes from the M25 by car.

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters

South Coast

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Time: 1 hour

This is a walk that takes in views of the Seven Sisters cliffs on the South Coast.

Involving the a stroll up Lookout Hill to Mad Jack Fuller’s folly, it will soon tire out little legs but give you some great views in return.

Seven Sisters cliffs from Birling Gap

There is parking at Birling Gap as well as the opportunity for ice cream or fish & chips to fill their bellies as a treat.

This is reasonably accessible from London and could be done as part of a wider day out to Eastbourne which is just down the road.


Forest of Dean/Wye Valley

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Time: 2 hours

This is a figure of eight walk centred on the Forest of Dean village of Brockweir and wandering up the Wye Valley.

Wye Valley.

With old railway tracks core to the walk, this is one with gentle slopes at best but some fine views as part of it.

You park at The Old Station Tintern that has public toilets, cafe and a visitors centre that are open between April and October, so you can feed your little ones and empty them without much hassle!

It is a mile away from Tintern Abbey, the famous old ruins that can be another stop on your day out in this fantastic bit of countryside.

Ilam Park to the Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Peak District

Distance: 3 miles

Time: 3 hours including playtime on the stepping stones

Ilam Park is a National Trust estate with all the fun that your little ones can enjoy through their activities.

This walk takes you a mile and a half out to the nearby Dovedale Stepping Stones  across fields with sheep and cows as you go.

Stepping Stones in Dovedale

There is a stile-free route that you can take, adding ten minutes to the walk, perhaps giving a little variation to your stroll back to the car.

As well as Ilam Park’s activities at the Dovedale Stepping Stones you can go for a paddle and a splash.

There’s also plenty of muddy puddles along the way!

Luxulyan Valley Circular Walk


  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Time: 3 hours

Thousands of families head down to Cornwall every summer to breathe the fresh air and gorge on pasties.

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of the world, there is far more to this county than beaches and the Eden Project!

Luxulyan Valley is a dip forest around the River Par near St Austell.

It has an old charcoal production heritage (for smelting ores found in Cornwall’s rich landscape) that you can take in as you go, including the hundred foot high Treffry Viaduct that you cross as part of the walk.

Treffry Viaduct

Kids and trees are a great mix, and they can run riot in relative safety as you explore this hidden jewel of Cornwall’s heritage.

Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle


  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Time: 3 hours

High in the North East of England, this walk is along a beach most of the way.

That means you can go in the North Sea if you dare, but also play in the sand and beach-comb as you go.

Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle

There are a number of car parks in Seahouses and this is one of those walks that might not achieve your end goal if you just want to build sandcastles with the treasure you have found as you explore this wonderful part of England.

If you’re a southerner heading for Edinburgh on a family road trip this might be a fun day off an otherwise arduous drive up to Scotland.

That said, this is worthy of a journey in its own right – definitely so if you are up that way and want a paddle!

Wicken Fen Wildlife Park


  • Distance:  2.36 miles
  • Time: 2 hours

The Fens were a large marshland that dominated much of East Anglia but were in a large part drained for strategic reasons by local kings as well as for its rich soil to be turned into farmland.

Wicken Fen has been rescued from the scourge of progress and is a great habitat for all sorts of birdlife, mammals and invertebrates including dragonflies, wading birds and water voles.

Ponies at Wicken Fen Wildlife Park

But, this walk won’t get your feet wet!

You will cross bridges and along walkways as you get to see the flora and animal life in this rich wilderness that was almost lost due to the ravages of mankind.

As part of your day out you can pop into nearby Ely for a spot of refreshments and enjoy your day out with a little extra variety.

Top walks for 6-12 year olds

At this age they will have a little more energy, yet still have the attention span of a gnat at times!

Here we show you three that may appeal – one of which has over 20 locations in the UK.

Hebden Bridge Circular

  • Distance: 7.5 miles
  • Time: 4-5 hours

This route has been chosen as there are lots of bail-out routes should little legs get too tired. They may well get quite tired too as there is the odd strenuous climb!

There are stretches of canal towpath along the way, so you can plod along gently from time to time.

The Pennine Way is followed for part of it – taking in some of the finest scenery in the whole of England as you go.

A great mixed walk that can start and end at a cafe or pub of your choice!

Shaun the Sheep Farmageddon Glow Trails

  • Distance: Varies
  • Time: 3 hours

Aimed at 6-12 year old kids, this is an augmented reality adventure on 21 different sites around England run by the Forestry Commission.

Check to see your nearest adventure here.

Rushing around your local forest, you’re on a mission to help Shaun the Sheep help an alien called Lu La whose space rocket has crashed.

Using a free app on iOS or Android you decipher coded messages, and uncover secret messages using a UV pen.

Though not a classic ‘walk’ in the usual manner of Trek Addict this is a chance to blow off steam and for your youngsters’ imaginations to run wild as they run and play in the forest.

This is a bit different to building dens and getting up to no good in trees, but that was so 20th Century!

Activities like this are designed to instil a love of the outdoors that you may well have as a Trek Addict follower!

The Lizard Coastal circular


  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Time: 3-5 hours

We chose this route as while challenging there are a number of bail-out routes should your kid have issues and you need to get back to the car.

Starting at Kynance Cove you follow the dramatic coastline all the way past Lizard Point (the most southerly tip of Britain) before heading inland, through Lizard village and back to Kynance Cove.

It is a challenging walk with some beefy climbs but for all that your loved one can get back to the car in a hurry should you need without having to double back.

With its stunning scenery and high cliffs, the peninsula is a magnet for millions of tourists every year.

A family holiday to Cornwall should be done as your kids grow up. This could well be a decent introduction to some longer walks.

Walberswick Nature Reserve


  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Time: 5-7 hours

What? 10 miles!

Ah, but you don’t get much in the way of hills in Suffolk!

Walberswick Reserve

This takes in coast path and a wetland nature reserve for you to teach your loved ones about the various birds and animals you encounter as you go.

Suffolk wildlife in spring

It is an opportunity to show them something about conservation and the importance of habitats like these for them and their children.

There are bail-out routes from this circular too, so you can get back should the whining get too intense and difficult.

If you detect a little truculence from your pre-teens on this then you can just wander around the nature reserve and forgo the walk itself.

Top walks for Teenagers

At this stage in their lives they should be building their fitness and showing signs of interests that will live with them for years to come.

Their brains are still in a great place to learn too, so harder navigation and even a bit of camping along the way can stay with them for years to come.

Get them paper navigating in heavy weather and poor visibility by aged 16 and they will be able to use those skills almost anywhere in the world.

Hadrian’s Wall

Coast to Coast

  • Distance: 84 miles
  • Time: 8-10 days

A multi-day trek that will build memories for you and your children for years to come.

Relatively easy to navigate (though there are diversions to the old wall), this is an opportunity to see the sheer skill of the Romans in building a wall to keep the Scots and Picts out of their empire.

Hadrian’s Wall

At the same time a learning experience and one where they can explore their own love for trekking. You can take this route on over a break from work with your older kids.

The traditional route is from east to west, from Tyneside to Bowness on Solway on the west coast.

As well as the ancient history you will run into relics of human habitation and industry for the two Millennia since.

A learning and exploring route in one hit!

Helvellyn via Striding and Swirral Edges

Lake District

  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Time: 8 hours

This is a classic fell walk in the Lake District where you can really stretch your legs.

It is classed as challenging but by this stage you should be able to judge as to their ability – they will in all likelihood out-walk you on this, reminding you that they are getting stronger even as you are starting to fade!

Helvellyn via Striding Edge

Striding Edge is a big cliff where your heart will beat a little more quickly as you appreciate the stunning views from on top.

It is one of those routes where you need to be sure-footed but for all that this will be a good day on the hill and one where you and your progeny will be able to get to know yourselves and each other from it.

Weymouth – Lulworth Cove


  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Time: 6 hours

Some locals would have it that this is the only way to really appreciate the beauty of Lulworth Cove.

Lulworth Cove

Like the starting point in Weymouth it is overrun with tourists in the summer, but in taking on this walk with some 2,000 feet of climbing over 12 miles, you’re in for quite a challenge as you go.

There are places to pause such as the Smugglers Inn in Osmington Mills, four miles in, but the last three miles are unrelenting and downright brutal at times with over 1,000 ft of climbs and descents, sometimes on near vertical slopes.

Explore some other famous highlights en-route including Durdle Door

Durdle Door

At the end you have a choice of eating and pubs at Lulworth Cove, and perhaps dip your hard-worn feet in the beautiful cove at the end.

Other Options for Teenagers

Have you thought of the 10 Tors Challenge?

Run by the British Army it is about getting teenagers navigating safely and wilderness camping as they navigate around the moors in a safe and supervised way.

10 Tors Challenge

This is generally run through schools – not a family activity per-se but something you could encourage them to do through school.

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards also encourage expeditions of this sort too.


So there we have it!

These are ways of getting your kids to do treks like those you love independently and to build confidence in their skills as they go.

We hope we have seeded some ideas for getting your kids into some serious walking.

You never know, they may end up asking you to ‘lend’ them some money for a trip farther afield like the Inca Trail or Everest Base Camp (or even to summit it) one day.

A proud moment for you…made possible through an early introduction.

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