Think of incredible places to go hiking in the UK and it’s likely that your mind will automatically jump to places like Scotland, North Wales or the Lake District. The Midlands, with its big cities and relatively flat terrain, isn’t the most obvious choice when it comes to places to pull on your boots and go exploring. You might then be surprised to discover that the Midlands has some fantastic walking options, from long rolling hills to ancient forests to rugged escarpments. The Midlands covers a vast chunk of England and it’s easily accessible by roads and public transport, making it an easy escape if you’re looking for a weekend away exploring somewhere new. If you’re keen to find explore on foot then here are five of the best hikes in the Midlands.
The Malvern Hills
Following the Malvern Hills End-to-End route is easily one of the best hikes in the Midlands. The hills run north to south, with stunning views over Herefordshire on one side and Worcestershire on the other. On a clear day you can even see as far as Wales.
The End-to-End route is a linear route of around 9-miles and requires some logistical planning. The easiest way to tackle the route, if you’re walking with a few friends, is to leave one car at the finishing point before driving back to the starting point to begin your walk. From here you simply follow the line of hills, rising and falling with each undulation, admiring the views as you go.
The highest point of the Malvern Hills is only 425 metres, but in a relatively flat landscape, these hills seem to dominate the skyline and give an illusion of being much bigger. That said, the walk is still fairly strenuous as you walk up and down a series of small hills.
There’s a very conveniently placed cafe around the halfway point, just as you drop down and cross the A449. It’s the perfect place to stop for a coffee and a sandwich before you complete the second half of your journey.
The route is well surfaced and can be tackled at any time of year, but this walk is all about the views, so try and pick a clear day to really make the most of that.
Cannock Chase is perhaps best known as a place to go mountain biking in the Midlands, but there are some great walks to be enjoyed here too. In fact, Cannock Chase appeared at #79 in ITV’s Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks a couple of years ago.
At just 26-square miles, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is quite small, but there’s plenty to see and you could easily spend a weekend exploring.
There are several walks that you can try, but the best of the bunch is the 7.5-mile Sherbrook Valley Trail. This walk crosses open heathland as well as ancient woodland, and the trail follows a gently meandering brook through the valley, giving you and peaceful and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Carding Mill Valley
The Carding Mill Valley walk is one of the most popular walks in Shropshire and one of the best hikes in the Midlands. It’s easy to see why.
The route climbs steeply up from the village of Church Stretton, offering beautiful views across the surrounding hills and valleys. As you head up towards the Long Mynd you can stop and catch your breath at the side of a 4-metre waterfall, watching as the water cascades over and heads down the valley.
Up on the plateau of the Long Mynd you will find mile after mile of open moorland to wander through. From here you will find amazing views, but you will also get up close to the local wildlife, including the ponies that graze on the moorland here.
There are plenty of options to make this a circular walk, and several paths will take you back down to Church Stretton where there are plenty of pubs, cafes and shops to explore. Or, if you’re feeling really energetic, you can head to the other side of the village and head up Caer Caradoc for another great walk.
The Roaches is a much-loved area of the Staffordshire Moorlands and is popular with climbers as well as walkers. This rocky ridge rises out of the ground up to 505 metres. The path is easy to follow and after the initial climb up to the ridge, it’s a fairly level walk with views over to Tittesworth Reservoir and beyond.
There are some interesting stories about the Roaches, stories that locals love to tell anyone visiting for the first time. Back in the 1930s, five Australian Wallabies were released onto the moorland near the Roaches. Here they created a colony and there have been rare sightings even in recent years. Of all the things you might expect to see on a peaceful walk in the Peak District, a wallaby wouldn’t be one of them.
For a longer walk you can head away from the Roaches towards the nearby woodland. Hidden within the woodland is Lud’s Church, a steep-sided chasm that was once used as a place of secret worship. It’s a stunning place to visit and even on a bright sunny day the gorge will be shrouded in shade, giving it an odd, mysterious atmosphere.
It’s not hard to see why it’s one of the best walks in the midlands.
The Two Castles Walk
Warwickshire is a country that is well-known for having a rich history. If you’re looking for a walk that takes in some of that history, then the two castles walk from Warwick to Kenilworth is perfect for you. But even if history isn’t your thing, this is a walk that takes in some of Warwickshire’s best countryside, following riverside pathways, canal towpaths and scenic bridleways.
The walk begins at St Nicholas Park in Warwick, where a short walk to the bridge will reveal stunning views of Warwick Castle over the River Avon. From here, the route follows the river through the park before passing under the Grand Union Canal. Here you’ll climb up the steps to join the canal towpath. Following the towpath for several miles, the route cuts through the town of Warwick before heading out into the countryside towards Hatton. From there, you pick up a bridleway that runs right through to Kenilworth Castle, almost entirely off-road.
It’s a beautiful walk on flat and level terrain, making it perfect for anyone with the stamina to walk the eight-mile route. It is a linear route, so you would need to arrange transport back to Warwick once completed, or simply retrace your steps if you’re still happy to keep walking.