Urban Hills

Urban Hills

Chris Webster • Walking • Feb 05, 2009 • 15 min read


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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 (fee), BA6 9EH

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 enjoy time outside. This walk will take you through the streets of Glastonbury before heading up Wearyall Hill.

You’ll descend back to the edge of the city before starting your climb up Glanstonbury 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 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 these types of 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 large 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

Looking over the London skyline from Primrose Hill

Escape the hustle and bustle of London with a walk on 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. Here at the top, you’ll be greeted with specular views across London. There’s plenty of grass to stroll across and public benches if you fancy a rest. 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

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

Sunderland, North East

Penshaw Hill, Sunderland

Walking route in OS Maps for: Penshaw Hill, Sunderland

Distance: 7.4 miles / Time: 3 hours

Overlooking the city streets of Sunderland, you’ll find Penshaw Hill, a popular place for locals to enjoy time outside and re-connect with nature. The Earl of Durham's Monument (build 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 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

A flash flood in August 1952 caused devastation and destruction to the small, harbour-side village of Lynmouth on the North Devon coast. The incident has subsequently been studied in schools across the country as UK flooding case study.

There are many factors which increase the vulnerability of Lynmouth to flooding, of these, one of the most significant is the fact that two rivers, each draining steep sided valleys meet in the heart of the village. The confluence of the West Lyn and East Lyn river is visible from the bridge on Riverside Road, which if you follow further down to the sea is the location of the excellent Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall which provides a fascinating insight to the night of the flood and its catastrophic effects.

This riverside walk along the banks of the East Lyn River takes you through wooded paths on the Tarka Trail and Coleridge Way. After crossing over the river at Watersmeet House head back to Lynmouth, or if you’re feeling fit continue upstream, heading either towards Hillsford Bridge or continuing on the Coleridge Way to Leeford.

Take some time to stroll down to the harbour in Lynmouth and catch the funicular cliff railway up to Lynton for the best views of the coast.


Published: Feb 05, 2009 Edited: Feb 19, 2021

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