readers’ choice of the UK’s best city walks

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Glasgow’s past, present and future

This walk between Kelvinbridge and St Enoch underground stations follows Glasgow’s River Kelvin before joining the more famous River Clyde, which takes you to the center of the city. It’s full of contrasts, passing through peaceful riverside parks and along busy dual carriageways, and passing some of Glasgow’s most interesting museums and galleries, including Kelvingrove, Kelvin Hall and the Riverside Museum. You’ll see reminders of the river’s past alongside the modern exhibition center, arena and hotels promising a very different future.
Graham Dean

A Great London Loop

Walthamstow Marshes and the River Lea on the Capital Ring Walk, London.

Walthamstow Marshes and the River Lea on the Capital Ring Walk. Photograph: Monica Wells/Alamy

My mother loves the countryside; I delight in everything that is urban. In a bid to do something together, we launched the Capital Ring Walk earlier this year, a 78-mile walking loop around London. We have broken the walk down into chunks and meet once a month at a designated train or metro station. Whether it’s the dense trees and muddy paths of Biggin Wood in Norbury or the wonder at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, we’ve found commonalities between us and our wanderings. On each walk we’ll find a new pub for an unexpected delicious lunch, or we’ll spot other people on the same loop looking for the familiar road signs. We absolutely love it.

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Along the Ouse and through the marshes to York

The banks of the River Ouse, York.

The banks of the River Ouse, York. Photograph: Michael Wheatley/Alamy

The Bishopthorpe Loop is a five mile loop capturing some of York’s lesser known sights, bits of countryside and the chance to have lunch halfway. Cruise down the River Ouse past Millennium Bridge and the Chocolate Factory, watching the river-goers pass by. The boardwalk is on an elevated section of the riverbank and is therefore passable in all but the worst floods. You arrive at the top of Bishopsthorpe, join the pavement and cross, stopping at a choice of pubs for lunch or a drink. Then take the Solar System Trail back to York, ending up crossing the Knavesmire Swamps.

Walk through history under Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction

Under the Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham.

Under the Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham. Photograph: Andrew Fox/Alamy

Birmingham offers plenty of walks, but beneath Spaghetti Junction lies a hidden urban delight – a time machine for transport past and present. There’s a cycle path, footpaths and a railway line, and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal crosses the River Tame while the motorway rumbles above. Along the promenade you will spot wildlife, street art and the remains of a lost industry. For a short walk, start from Salford Park and pass under the massive concrete supports of the A38(M) and join a towpath. If you’re feeling energetic, walk to Spaghetti Junction along the canal from Gas Street Basin in the city center – or even Digbeth for the more enthusiastic.
Jo Brookes

Observe marine life off Brighton

The path under the cliff between Brighton and Saltdean, East Sussex.

The path under the cliff between Brighton and Saltdean, East Sussex. Photograph: Steve Speller/Alamy

A completely flat route suitable for all ages and abilities, the walk under the cliff from Brighton to Saltdean takes on a calmer side of the East Sussex coast. You will see birds and maybe even a seal or dolphins. From Brighton Palace Pier, the journey is four and a half miles, but can be shortened if you start at Brighton Marina, which has free parking for up to four hours. If you don’t feel like walking back, bus number 12 returns along the coastal road.
Charlotte Murphy

Canterbury Sculpture and Murals Trail

The statue of King Ethelbert stands outside Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

The statue of King Ethelbert stands outside Canterbury Cathedral. Photograph: Beata Moore/Alamy

Revisiting Canterbury, we followed the Sculpture Trail to explore wider parts of the city unknown to us. Sculptures on our quest included a fountain, a 6th-century statue of King Ethelbert of Kent, and a giant face, but these weren’t the only points of interest along the route. Vibrant murals depicting the city’s history and nature brighten the concrete underpasses — my favorite are the riverside wildflowers. Other highlights were a physical garden, with panels explaining the uses of medicinal herbs, and a plane tree with a huge trunk that would have swallowed up a circular bench.
Sharon Pinner

Mill ponds, an aqueduct and lair in Leeds

Golden Acre Park, Leeds.

Golden Acre Park. Photograph: Park Dale/Alamy

The Meanwood Valley Trail to Golden Acre Park is five miles of easy walking, just a short bus ride from downtown Leeds, and is full of surprises at any time of year. Leave the streets behind and head into the glorious hardwood forested valley with just the birds and the babbling brook for company. Along the route are signs of the area’s industrial heritage: stone quarries, mills and notably the Seven Arches Aqueduct, which was erected in the 19th century to bring fresh water to Leeds, when was a thriving industrial hive. There are plenty of opportunities to build dens on the way and bird hides to view wildlife. Golden Acre Park also has a welcoming cafe with a view of the lake.
Chris Middleton

Explore Plymouth’s maritime heritage

Smeaton's Tower at Plymouth Hoe.

Smeaton’s Tower at Plymouth Hoe. Photography: Photokes/Alamy

I love hiking in the British town of Ocean City – . You can spend anywhere from an hour to a full day walking Plymouth and come away with many and varied glimpses of its maritime heritage. You’ll have seen everything from old and new kayaks, fishing boats and warships on the water, to breathtaking views of coastal parks and cliffs and historical monuments, statues, a lighthouse and the Royal Citadel. You will have salt in your hair, on your skin and even in your heart in the end. I recommend following the coast around the Hoe then cutting inland and back to the historic streets.
Susanna Callaghan

Tea, cakes and sandy beaches near Newcastle

Tynemouth Castle: a tube journey from Newcastle.

Tynemouth Castle: a tube journey from Newcastle. Photograph: Ian Dagnall/Alamy

I like to take the tube to Tynemouth, start with tea and cake in one of the many cafes, then stroll along the boulevard that stretches north. Stop at Tynemouth Priory and Castle (free for English Heritage members) and explore 2,000 years of history. I particularly enjoy the views from South Tyneside over the River Tyne. There are sandy beaches here, very close to Newcastle, where you can swim or let your dog run. Walk via Cullercoats to Whitley Bay and enjoy views of Saint Mary’s Island with its iconic lighthouse. Take the subway back to the toon.
Monique Gadel

WINNING TIP: Warehouses regenerated and canals cleaned up in Manchester

Mamucium, the Roman settlement, is now Castlefield (named after the fort they built) and is the oldest and my favorite part of town. The Industrial Revolution gave Castlefield’s canals, the first passenger railway station, a glorious viaduct and huge red-brick warehouses. Before the 1980s when it became an urban heritage park, it was a part of Manchester you avoided. Now it’s cleaned up and it’s beautiful. Warehouses house businesses and apartments, canals are used for pleasure, there are good pubs (try the Wharf), MOSI (the Museum of Science and Industry) and a National Sky Park. Trust on the viaduct.

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