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Walk this way: Which? reveals the UK’s favourite walks to blow away the cobwebs over the holidays

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The Buttermere Circuit in the Lake District has been named the UK’s top-rated walk in a survey of more than 50 popular routes, ranging from gentle strolls to full-day hikes.

With the UK continuing to face coronavirus restrictions, limiting opportunities for socialising indoors over the festive season, Which? has revealed the UK’s favourite walks, as voted for in a survey of nearly 3,000 Which? members.

The Buttermere Circuit in the Lake District, a 4.5 mile lakeside walk, took the top spot of the table, receiving a walk score of 88 per cent. It was awarded five stars for scenery, thanks to its combination of a rippling silver lake next to dramatic mountains. Visitors also rated it favourably for accessibility, peace and quiet, and places of interest available on the route.

It was followed by Helvellyn, a tough eight-hour hike up the third-highest peak in the Lake District. It received a walk score of 87 per cent, with hikers giving it five stars for its stunning scenery and views from the Striding Edge Ridge. While not one for the faint of heart – Which? recommends only experienced walkers tackle this route – the path is well trodden, and the chances of real danger are slim. Which? gave this walk five out of five for difficulty though, and facilities along the route are limited to non-existent, so walkers should come prepared.

The Rhossili Headland in Gower and Solva to St David’s route in Pembrokeshire, both coastal walks in Wales, also received walk scores of 87 per cent. These routes were both ranked two out of five for difficulty, making them both nice options for a pleasant but invigorating stroll. Those who enjoy a bite to eat or a drink as part of their walk should head to Rhossili, awarded five stars by visitors for food and drink, while nature fans will be rewarded on the walk from Solva to St Davids, where they may even spot grey seals and porpoises – an indication as to why visitors gave it five stars for wildlife.

Receiving the third highest score – and the accolade of Scotland’s best walk – was the Anstruther to Crail stretch of the Fife Coastal Path, with a score of 86 per cent. A comfortable saunter between two fishing villages, this route was given five stars for peace and quiet and should only take a couple of hours to complete. The path is clearly waymarked too, allowing walkers to find their way easily while making the most of the views across the Firth of Forth.

Other routes also receiving 86 per cent were the Botallack Mine Walk in Cornwall, the Craster, Dunstaburgh and Low Newton Circuit in Northumberland, and the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District.

Dunseverick Castle to the Giant’s Causeway was named Northern Ireland’s best walk, receiving a score of 85 per cent and five stars for both scenery and places of interest. The five-mile route, including a descent down the 162 Shepherd’s Steps to take in the view of the 40,000 basalt columns at the end, is well-maintained and was rated two out of five for difficulty by Which?, with visitors also awarding it four stars for facilities along the way.

Ben Lomond in Scotland was also given a score of 85 per cent, along with High Force & Low Force in the Durham Dales, Housesteads to Steel Riggs along Hadrian’s Wall, and the Mawddach Estuary in Wales.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said:

“Whether you’re looking for easygoing strolls to fill the space between Christmas and the new year, or you’re after a breathtaking hike to help you shake the dust off your feet after this year, our rundown of the country’s favourite walks should provide plenty of inspiration.

“While coronavirus restrictions might prevent us from travelling to some of the farther-flung destinations on our list, the good news is that we are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to stunning walks across the UK, meaning there are walks to be enjoyed wherever you are in the country.

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