- New Forest: Requisitioned by William the Conqueror as a game reserve in 1079, the 375-sq.-km (145-sq.-mile) New Forest isn't very new. Today the New Forest is one of southern England's best rural playgrounds, attracting eight million annual visitors. You can ramble its carefully laid-out trails at leisure, or else take a guided scenic walk offered by the Forest Commission. Our favorite is the Arboretum Sensory Trail, stretching for .8km (a half-mile).
- Dartmoor National Park: Rich in legend and lore, this national park northeast of Plymouth is home to gorges, fields of purple heather, and the Dartmoor pony. The park is crisscrossed with about 805km (500 miles) of walking and hiking trails, along with bridle paths. To get the scenic most out of this area, join one of the guided walks offered by the Dartmoor National Park Authority, ranging from an easy 1 1/2-hour jaunt to 6 long hours of trekking.
- The Great Cotswold Ramble: One of the most memorable walks in England is between the two idyllic villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter. And it's only 1.6km (1 mile). A well-worn footpath, Warden's Way, meanders beside the edge of the swift-flowing River Eye. You pass quaint cottages, antique houses, stately trees, footbridges, and old millponds. You can also extend the walk another 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) to romantic Bourton-on-the-Water.
- The South Downs Way: Beginning in the cathedral city of Winchester, in the West Country, the South Downs Way, one of the most scenic hikes in the south of England, goes all the way to the town of Eastbourne. The distance across the bucolic terrain is 159km (99 miles). A bridleway forms the trail across these chalk uplands as you traverse miles of woodland. A highlight is the "Cliffs of the Seven Sisters." Bookstores in Winchester sell copies of A Guide to South Downs Way, by Miles Jebb (Constable Press), and the even more detailed South Downs Way, by Paul Millmore (Aurum Press).
- The Cotswolds Way: One of the great hiking "rambles" of England is the Great Cotswolds Way, a 167km (104-mile) trail that cuts through some of England's most beautiful scenery in the bucolic Cotswolds. Laid out as late as 1968, the ramble goes from the town of Chipping Campden, arguably the most beautiful in the Cotswolds, in the north, going all the way to the spa city of Bath. The trail is clearly signposted at every intersection en route. The hike takes from 7 to 8 days, but, of course, you can stop at any point.
- Peak District National Park: A district of moors, dales, green valleys, waterfalls, and steep hills, the Peak District National Park is the scenic highlight of the East Midlands, covering some 1,404 sq. km (542 sq. miles). The Peak District National Park will supply you with details for hiking through this rugged terrain. The most evocative walk is the Monsal Trail, lying between Buxton and Bakewell -- two towns that make the best centers for touring the park.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.