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Top urban hills that are worth the climb

• Walking • Mar 11, 2021 • 15 min read

Hills make a great place to walk. You'll benefit from an excellent workout and when you reach the top, will be rewarded with some great views. Here are our top urban hills that are worth the climb,

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Wherever you are in Great Britain, you shouldn't have to travel far to find a hill. You'll be surprised at how many hills sit within urban areas or on the outskirts of a city. Hills make excellent places to spend time outside and many have a network of footpaths, spectacular viewpoints, and facilities to enjoy lunch with a view.

Have you explored your nearest hill? Use OS Maps to find one and plan your next local walk. Enjoy a 7-day free trial on us.

1. Glastonbury Tor

Somerset, South West

Glastonbury Tor, Glastonbury

Walking route in OS Maps for: Glastonbury Tor

Distance: 5.3 miles / Time: 2.5 hours

Start/parking: St Dunstan's car park, BA6 9EH - charges may apply

Iconic Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor is known as being one of the most spiritual sites in Great Britain and it’s a beautiful spot to take in the views. This walk will take you through the streets of Glastonbury before heading up Wearyall Hill.

You’ll then descend back to the edge of the city before starting your walk up Glastonbury Tor. The short, steep climb will reward you with magnificent views over the city, the Somerset Levels and beyond. At the summit you’ll also see the remains of the two churches of St Michael.


2. Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth

Hampshire, South East

Portsdown Hill

Walking route in OS Maps for: Portsdown Hill

Distance: 5.7 miles/ Time: 2.5 hours

Start/parking: free parking in one of the many car parks along the top of the hill

View over Portsmouth from Portsdown Hill

Portsdown Hill boasts amazing views across the Solent and the Hampshire countryside. It’s easily accessible from the city of Portsmouth and there are plenty of parking options on top of the hill or at it’s base in Cosham or Portchester. This long chalk ridge has an extensive network of trails, giving you a sense you’ve left the city and are now in the relaxing surrounds of nature.

There’s plenty of wildlife to be found and if you make your way to the very top of the hill, you’ll notice that on one side you can spot city landmarks and on the other, rolling green fields. There are not many places so close to a city that offers such contrasting views. Look out for the three forts on top of the hill, each rich in military history.


3. Kilvey Hill, Swansea

South Wales

Kilvey Hill, Swansea

Walking route in OS Maps for: Kilvey Hill, Swansea

Distance: 4.3 miles / Time: 2 hours

Start/parking: Kilvey Hill Community Woodland car park

View of Swansea from Kilvey Hill

This 4-mile woodland walk is easily accessible from Swansea with magnificent views over Swansea Bay and Swansea Valley. Kilvey Hill is one of the largest urban fridge woodlands in the area and here you’ll find a variety of habitats including woodland, heathland, wetland and meadow.

The hill is a haven for bird watching and the rare small blue butterfly has even been spotted here. Although primarily used for walking and trail running, Kilvey Hill is also popular with mountain bikers.


4. Primrose Hill, London

Primrose Hill, London

Walking route in OS Maps for: Primrose Hill

Distance: 5.2 miles / Time: 2 hours

Parking: a number of car parks nearby with charges. Good public transport links.

Looking over the London skyline from Primrose Hill

Escape the hustle and bustle of London with a walk up Primrose Hill. This route combines two of London’s beautiful public parks, Primrose Hill and Regents Park, which sit next to each other with London Zoo in between. It’s a gentle stroll on a paved path to the top of Primrose Hill. At the top, you’ll be greeted with specular views across London. The hilltop is home to a stone engraved with a William Blake inscription. Reach it to find out what it reads! There’s plenty of grass to stroll across and public benches if you fancy a rest.


5. Rowley Hills, Birmingham

West Midlands

Map of the Rowley Hills

The Rowley Hills provide a peaceful place to get some fresh air away from the city streets below. It’s great for wildlife lovers who will find rare nesting birds and butterflies. One of the hills that make up the area is Portway Hill, a small nature reserve that's worth a visit. Many people know Portway Hill for its onion skin weathering on basalt, which was used for kerbstones throughout Birmingham and the Black Country. Spring and summer are particularly pleasant here as you’ll find an abundance of pretty wildflowers. Take a stroll on the handful of footpaths that cross Portway Hill and the wider Rowley Hills, and admire this little oasis above the wider cityscape.


6. Penshaw Hill, Sunderland

Tyne and Wear, North East

Penshaw Hill, Sunderland

Walking route in OS Maps for: Penshaw Hill, Sunderland

Distance: 7.4 miles / Time: 3 hours

Parking: free car parking available off Chester Road (A183)

Penshaw Hill

Overlooking the city streets of Sunderland, you’ll find Penshaw Hill, a popular place for locals to get some fresh air and re-connect with nature. The Earl of Durham's Monument (built in 1844) sits on top of the hill and it’s really rather impressive, standing over 70-foot tall. The much-loved monument is a replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens and you can access its rooftop for splendid views below. Please check opening times before you set off and book your monument tour here.


7. Little Solsbury Hill, Bath

Somerset, South West

Little Solsbury Hill, Somerset

Walking route in OS Maps for: Little Solsbury Hill

Distance: 2.8 miles / Time: 1.5 hours

Start/parking: on the roadside in Northend or Batheaston.

Upper Swainswick village near Bath, next to Little Solsbury Hill

Little Solsbury Hill is a flat-topped hill north east of Bath. This former Iron Age Hill Fort is managed by the National Trust and there is an abundance of well-defined walking trails including this lovely walk which should take you just over an hour. This route passes a former reservoir which is now a wetland nature reserve and home to an array of birds. Solsbury Hill is often known for its inspiration for Peter Gabriel’s song ‘Solsbury Hill’.


Now why not set yourself a challenge to climb your nearest hill and enjoy the beautiful views below?

Published: Mar 11, 2021 Edited: Mar 29, 2021

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