8. Town & coast walk: Bournemouth
Location: Hengistbury Head, Dorset
Distance: 10.3 miles / Time: 2.5 hours
Beach at the foot of Hengistbury head cliffs
This walk combines city with a mixture of both coast and countryside – all within easy reach of Bournemouth town centre. From Bournemouth’s famous sandy beach to riverside views and wildlife-rich marshlands, and finally the rugged clifftop at Hengistbury Head.
The route starts and ends in the peaceful suburb of Southbourne, to the east of Bournemouth. Around Southbourne Grove you’ll find a lively cluster of brewpubs, cafes, and restaurants – perfect for a drink or snack to finish a long circular walk. But if you want to extend the whole route, you can easily set off from Bournemouth town centre and walk all along the seafront to reach Southbourne and set off to Hengistbury Head.
Walk up through Southbourne as far as Wick Lane, then take the pedestrian path eastwards along the River Stour, taking in the views of picturesque Christchurch across the water. Follow the Stour all the way to its mouth, passing through the marshlands around Wick Meads nature preserve, where you can spot a wide variety of bird species. The path eventually leads to the very tip of Mudeford spit, a thin sandbank that cuts across the mouth of the harbour, pointing towards the quaint fishing village of Mudeford.
Wander along the white sand dunes past a long string of pastel coloured beach huts, pausing for a coffee at the beach café. Then its up the steps to the top of Hengistbury Head for some of the best views around. On clear days you can see look across the sea to see the Ilse of Wight. The iconic chalk stacks, the Needles, are usually visible, as are their westerly brothers Old Harry Rocks. Descend down Hengistbury Head and follow the beach back to Southbourne – or on all the way to Bournemouth town centre.
Recommended by Emily Luxton. Follow Emily on her blog or Instagram.
9. City walk: Birmingham
Location: Cole Valley walk, Birmingham
Distance: 5 km / Time: 1 hour
John Morris Jones walkway, Birmingham
Mahroof along Cole Valley walk, Birmingham
Sometimes Birmingham will surprise you with what it has in the way of walking routes. The Shire Country Park is one such place. Located in the south-east of the city, it has it’s own magical connections. Named after the Shire in Lord of the Rings, it is said that JRR Tolkien wondered these parts as a child as he grew up on the nearby Wake Green Road and inspired his vision of Fangorn forest. Whilst the place is nowhere near as eerie as the forest traipsed by the Fellowship of the Ring, it is a wilderness amongst suburbia that makes you forget entirely that you are in the second largest city.
The walk starts at a from the carpark of Sarehole Mill, one of two watermills still operational in the city. The route follows the river Cole on a well-made path made for walking and cycling. You’ll go along the river, through open ground, through forested areas and across a few roads so, whilst you’re never really far from civilization, you are quite in your own little world.
The route can be made much longer by continuing along the river or even going as far as the Canal to the south or following the river north towards Ackers Adventure where you can join the Grand Union Canal so there are lots of extra options for exploration including the local nature reserve Moseley Bog.
Recommended by OS GetOutside Champion Mahroof Malik. Follow Mahroof on Instagram.
10. City walk: Edinburgh
Location: Old Town
Distance: 5.7 km / Time: 1.5 hours
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
One great thing about Edinburgh is just how walkable it is, not to mention how easy it is to get out into nature within the city. From extinct volcanoes to tidal islands, Edinburgh has it all. But if we're going to focus on one area of Edinburgh to explore by foot, it's the Old Town – and the secrets within.
Starting at Waverley Station, make your way up to the famous Royal Mile via the beautiful, winding Cockburn Street. Grab a coffee and head up to Edinburgh Castle, at the top of the Royal Mile. After we've taken in the views over Princes Street, over to Arthur's Seat and across to the Pentlands, we're going to take a detour from the Mile and head down to one of Edinburgh's most picturesque areas via one of its most picturesque streets – Victoria Street.
Grassmarket has a murky history, but today, not only do you get incredible views of the castle from below, there is a plethora of places to check out. On a Saturday, the market is well worth a gander before continuing on our walk. Make your way up Candlemaker Row, or alternatively take a detour through Greyfriars Kirkyard - I highly recommend a walk around this historic cemetery where many famous and notorious Edinburgh names rest. The most famous of all is probably Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful dog who never left his master's grave. Be sure to stop by his statue outside the graveyard.
Head along Chambers Street, past the National Museum Of Scotland (well worth a visit on a rainy day) and get back to the Royal Mile along Southbridge. The Mile is fantastic to explore as there are lots of alleyways and closes off the street which are a joy to discover, as well as buildings with hidden histories. See how many you can find as you wander to the bottom. Our final main stop is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, overshadowed by Arthur's Seat. Of course, you could hike up to the seat itself after this walk - it commands spectacular views over all sides of Edinburgh. Alternatively, head back up the Mile to get back to Waverley Station, or take the adjacent street past the striking Parliament building and rejoin the Mile further up.
Recommended by Clarissa Linnitt. Follow Clarissa on her blog or Instagram.
So there you have it – 10 of the best city walks across Great Britain. But there's so many more to choose from, so share yours and tag us in on social media.
Remember to take care of the great outdoors and follow the Countryside Code at all times.