2021 could be your year of hiking. It’s time to don those hiking boots and take off on one of the great beginner hikes that can be found all around you.
Long-distance routes can seem daunting, but each route is broken up into small, hike-size pieces. If you’re new to hiking, or just fancy a gentle start, these are the hikes that you should aim for. Manageable, not too strenuous, and they will certainly whet your appetite for larger hikes later in the year.
Cloghane to Scraggane Pier – walk the Dingle Way
As beginner hikes go, it doesn’t get much better than a long stroll along a sandy beach with the wild Atlantic Ocean beside you.
Many hikers may be reluctant to call a walk along the longest beach in Ireland a ‘hike’, but it’s certainly a gentle way to encourage you to take on more strenuous routes.
The rest of the Dingle Way is certainly not something to be missed either – filled with Irish culture, music and the best locally-sourced seafood imaginable.
Bere Island – get away from it all on the Beara Way
Bere Island, or Bear Island (don’t worry, there are no bears), is an island located off the Beara peninsula in the southwest of Cork.
A short looped walk brings you around the remote part of the small island. At just 14km (8.7 miles) long, this beginner hike is a perfect gentle introduction to the year.
The island is steeped in military history, with the longer 24km (15 mile) route showing you this part of the island.
Glendalough – a glacial valley with a famous monastic settlement
The hike to Glendalough may not be strictly a beginner hike, but it’s worth it to see this 1,000 year old monastic site and walk part of the beautiful Wicklow Way.
Waterville to Caherdaniel – experience the Kerry Way
Your legs will thank you for taking this on as one of your shorter beginner hikes!
At just 13km (8 miles) long, you’re still treated to all the beautiful coastal scenery that Kerry has to offer.
Lough Inagh to Leenane – explore the West of Ireland
Flanked by two impressive mountain ranges – the Twelve Bens and the Maamturks – this 15km (9 mile) hike brings you through the heart of Connemara.
The bogland can sometimes get soft underfoot, however this hike is still a great option for a beginner.
Ballintoy to the Giant’s Causeway – Antrim’s unique coastline
Experience the majesty of the Giant’s Causeway with this hike in Northern Ireland!
If you don’t fancy walking from Ballintoy to the Giant’s Causeway, you can always go directly to the great wonder.
Bantry to Glanlough – visit the unspoiled Sheep’s Head Peninsula
With stunning views over each side of the Sheep’s Head peninsula, this short hike is perfect for a beginner.
Just 16km (10 miles) in length, this beginner hike should take you around 5 hours to complete and reward you with spectacular scenery.
Liscannor to Doolin – see the Cliffs of Moher!
Even if this wasn’t one of the beginner hikes, we’d still include it just for the sake of walking along the majestic Cliffs of Moher. This section is part of all of our Burren Way tours.
Lundrava to Fort William – Ben Nevis looms over you
To Scotland now, and a wonderful beginners’ hike in the shadow of Ben Nevis and part of the world famous West Highland Way.
Don’t worry though – you don’t have to climb it. You can simply admire it from a distance.
Nethy Bridge to Aviemore – walking in a whisky heartland
This walk which is part of the Speyside Way is 18km (11.2 miles) and follows the old Strathspey Railway line through the village of Boat of Garten which is a great place for a stop off.
It then crosses some open moorland with stunning views of the Cairngorms National Park on the approach to the highland resort of Aviemore.
Fort Augustus to Inverness – catch a glimpse of Nessie
Get your camera ready – a snap of the Loch Ness monster in Loch Ness could make you rich!
Take a nice hike along the shores and discover beautiful Scottish castle and ancient Scottish history on one of the best sections of the Great Glen Way.
Acharn to Aberfeldy – possibly the best scenery in Scotland
Considered by some to be the most beautiful scenery in Scotland, this section of the Rob Roy Way is not to be missed.
You’ll probably spot some Highland Cattle on your journey too!
Any section of the Fife Coastal Path – life’s a beach
The Fife Coastal Path has a gentle gradient throughout and offers some of the finest coastal walking in Scotland.
It also passes award-winning beaches, woodland, charming, historic little harbor villages and wildlife reserves making it an ideal trail for a beginner.
Lanercost to Carlisle – follow the historical Hadrian’s Wall
Each section of the Hadrian’s Wall route is steeped in history – you’ll never be far from the ancient Roman ruin.
Hadrian’s Wall is a great option for a beginner hike as it’s relatively flat.
Southease to Alfriston – the majestic South Downs Way
This is a very straight forward and easy 11km (6.8 mile) walk along the top of the Downs with fine vistas all around.
The route finishes by bearing more southerly towards the charming, old village of Alfriston , once famous for smuggling and home to two of the oldest inns in England.
….And One Bonus Hike – Tenby to Manorbier
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Welsh hike and there’s none better that this incredible section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
This 12km (7.5 mile) section has some ups and downs but covers some of the most spectacular coastal walking in the UK and is very well waymarked.