Seven great hillwalks near cities

The ever-popular Pen y Fan in south Wales is less than an hour’s drive from Cardiff or Swansea.

The ever-popular Pen y Fan in south Wales is less than an hour’s drive from Cardiff or Swansea.

If you need your hill fix but don’t live near Britain’s most celebrated mountains regions, here are seven fantastic hillwalks near cities for hikers of all ages and abilities to enjoy. 

1. Chiltern Hills, London

Less than 30 miles from London and with easy links to Marylebone Station, this is a great escape for anyone wanting to leave the capital for a lovely loop that climbs Coombe Hill – a stunning panoramic viewpoint and the highest peak in the Chiltern Hills.

The view from Ivinghoe Beacon on the Chiltern Hills – just an hour north-west of London.

The view from Ivinghoe Beacon on the Chiltern Hills – just an hour north-west of London.


2. Kinder Scout, Manchester

Located in the western reaches of the Peak District National Park and just a short journey from Manchester, Kinder Scout is a wild and impressive hill with a huge sprawling plateau to explore. This route from near the village of Hayfield shows off many of its finest features.

Kinder Scout’s upland plateau is easily accessed from cities including Manchester, Sheffield or Leeds.

Kinder Scout’s upland plateau is easily accessed from cities including Manchester, Sheffield or Leeds.


3. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Not content with being near a major city, the craggy peak of Arthur’s Seat is located smack in the middle of Scotland’s capital! The short and steep climb to its summit through Holyrood Park is a must for anyone visiting Edinburgh, with city skyline views as your reward.

A highlight of visiting Edinburgh is a climb up Arthur’s Seat, a 251m extinct volcano overlooking the city.

A highlight of visiting Edinburgh is a climb up Arthur’s Seat, a 251m extinct volcano overlooking the city.


4. Pen y Fan Horseshoe, Cardiff

Pen y Fan is the highest mountain in southern Britain and can comfortably be reached in around an hour by car from Cardiff and Swansea. This horseshoe walk takes in the popular peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn in one awesome mountain route.

The Pen y Fan horseshoe is perhaps one of the best, and most easily accessed, hill days for city-dwellers.

The Pen y Fan horseshoe is perhaps one of the best, and most easily accessed, hill days for city-dwellers.


5. High Willhays, Exeter

People don’t picture mountains when they think of Dartmoor, but at 621 metres High Willhays is a proper hill with a rugged and remote feel. Dartmoor’s a weird and exciting place to walk, with granite tors, wild ponies and endless moors just a short drive from Exeter.  

The wild tors and moors of Dartmoor are just 30 miles west of Exeter.

The wild tors and moors of Dartmoor are just 30 miles west of Exeter.


6. The Malvern Hills, Worcester

Acting as a natural dividing line between Worcestershire and Herefordshire, this impressive chain of hills runs for eight miles along the border of the two counties. The highest point is Worcestershire Beacon at 425 metres, all just a few miles from Worcester’s city walls.

It couldn’t be simpler to escape to the hills from the city of Worcester with the Malverns on your doorstep.

It couldn’t be simpler to escape to the hills from the city of Worcester with the Malverns on your doorstep.


7. Stanage Edge, Sheffield

The four-mile gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge is one of the Peak District’s most recognisable landmarks. It’s a walk for all ages and abilities, across a wild and dramatic landscape with massive views over the Dark Peak area and the Hope valley.

From the centre of Sheffield, you can be by the dramatic Stanage Edge in less than half an hour by road.

From the centre of Sheffield, you can be by the dramatic Stanage Edge in less than half an hour by road.


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What is a GPX file?

A GPX (GPS Exchange Format) file is a digital version of a route. Each GPX file contains a long list of the precise GPS coordinates that make up a route, which can be placed on top of a digital map for printing or following on a GPS device or smartphone. How to upload and use a GPX file depends on which navigation device you’re using, but they work on everything from handheld Garmin devices and Suunto watches to smartphone apps like OS Maps. As GPX files are made up of unique and universal latitude/longitude coordinates, they can be used with almost any type of mapping software.

Jake Kendall-Ashton