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Walking is great exercise, so if your fitness goal is to increase your daily steps  then the National Trust has plenty of trails to help. From challenging terrain to long-distance hikes, you’re sure to find a route where you can push yourself that bit further.

Before you set off, find out what to eat before a walk from sports nutritionist Anita Bean.

South West

Baggy Point to Woolacombe walk, Devon
This coastal 10-mile walk covers undulating terrain, so it’s great for building stamina. With breath-taking views over coast and farmland, there’s no better setting for a long walk.

Godrevy to Hell’s Mouth, West Cornwall
With steep climbs and some rough terrain, this five-mile route is a great test of fitness.

Holnicote Estate two-day hike, Exmoor, Somerset
Covering a total of 24 miles over two days, this pair of routes is perfect for anyone who really wants to test their walking fitness. If you only have time for one route then you can choose to suit your needs and ability: day one covers 8 miles of relatively easy walking with a few steady ascents, while day two consists of 16 miles of challenging terrain with several steep climbs and descents.  

South East

Octavia Hill East and West walks, Kent
These two trails celebrate the life of the Trust’s co-founder, passing through the countryside where she was born and lived. The walks can be done separately, but when combined they form a 10-mile figure-of-eight trail of varied terrain that is great for stretching your legs.

Octavia Hill

Two-day hike, South Downs National Park
Covering a total of 21 miles, there are no rugged or awkward peaks on this two-day walk. Be sure to dress for all weathers and invest in a good pair of boots.

East of England

Ickworth Albana walk, Suffolk
This circular walk winds through the woodlands around Ickworth. Those keen to build up their fitness levels can take a detour to the Trim Trail, where adults and children alike can and try their hand at various challenges from pole-climbing to ladder walks and leap frog.

Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk, Bedfordshire
This four-and-a-half mile walk covers moderate terrain but there are a few steep gradients to help push your stamina levels a bit. 


Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
Clumber Park was once the country estate of the Duke of Newcastle. From the Gothic-style chapel, often referred to as a ‘Cathedral in miniature’, you can follow in the footsteps of Dukes through the peaceful pleasure ground to the Walled Kitchen Garden where you can experience sights, scents and a taste of the past.

A bracing walk at Derwent Valley, Peak District
This four-mile walk covers rough terrain over fields, woodland paths, roads and open moorland. It’s a beautiful introduction to the Peak District with stunning views. 



Steel Rigg walk, Northumberland
Wrap up for a bracing 10.5-mile circular walk at Hadrian’s Wall.The route is undulating with one or two steep ascents and descents, giving you plenty of opportunity to experience the rugged and wild landscape. 

Ash Landing and Claife Heights Windermere walk, Cumbria
Enjoy an elevated walk alongside Windermere’s undeveloped western side and take in the dramatic scene at Low Blind How. The view provides ample reward for the extra effort required to get there but if you’d like an extra treat, you can call into the cosy café at Claife Viewing Station after your walk.


Cwm Llwch Horseshoe walk, Brecon Beacons
This eight-mile route begins with the ‘hard route’ up to the summit of Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales. Starting at just over 1000ft above sea level, you have 1893ft of climbing before the reaching the top. Save this walk for a clear day, because the views are truly spectacular. 


Two-day Super Challenge walk, Gower Peninsula
Covering almost 40 miles over two days, this trail is great for keen walkers who are looking to push themselves that bit further than usual. The route covers some of the UK’s most scenic coastline. The route instructions are intended just as a guide. Sensible walking gear, a map and a compass are essential.

Northern Ireland

Florence Court Red trail, County Fermanagh
Follow this five-and-a-half mile trail through the forest park at Florence Court. The route has occasional steep inclines which require a reasonable level of fitness. The views are worth it though – on a clear day you’ll be able to see across much of Fermanagh.


Castle Ward Boundary trail, County Down
Castle Ward has over 34km of trails. Visitors can get active on the eight-mile ‘Boundary trail’ which follows the shores of Strangford Lough. The route has an even surface throughout, but there are some steep gradients which will help to test your fitness levels. 

Walking for fitness: 5 top tips from the experts at Cotswold Outdoor

1. Invest in a trusty pair of walking poles. They take some of the strain off your knees and spread out the weight of your pack letting you walk for longer. They’ll even give your arms a workout too.

2. Wrap up warm when you take a break. Whenever you stop moving conserve heat by adding a layer, especially in winter. You’ll find that getting going again becomes that much easier.

3. Make the most of workout walks. Carrying a weighted pack is a great way to train for longer walks. Carry more weight than you usually would in the hills and really work out those legs.

4. Invest in well-fitting boots and socks. The wrong pair of boots can stop you in your tracks, but the right pair will see you through many a mile. More than any other piece of kit it’s worth taking the time to get your boots properly fitted.  

5. Have fun. Walking is good for the mind, body and soul; so don’t forget to take it easy now and then, and really enjoy the experience.