Five crowd free walks from UK train stations

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Fi Darby

7 May 202412 min read

A green and pleasant landscape

Wherever you choose to walk, the British countryside has amazing and diverse scenery. Whether you’re enjoying crowd-free hikes to Wainwright summits in the Lake District or wandering along a canal tow path in the Midlands, you’ll find views to appreciate around every corner.

Which is why many of Britain’s favourite walks seem overcrowded.

Snowdon Yr Wyddfa
Snowdon Yr Wyddfa | Image credit: Matt Camp | Getty Images

As well as detracting from your outdoor experience, crowds aren’t great for the environment or local communities. Especially if everyone arrives by car. But there are alternative to summit queues on Snowdon Yr Wyddfa and racing up and down the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The UK is covered with crowd free hills and quieter trails; we have plenty of hikes near public transport, it’s just a matter of finding them.

How you get to your walking destination matters.

Arriving by car to your walk start point might seem like the easiest option but when you factor in the tiny lanes, sat nav miscalculations and lack of parking, it’s often more satisfying to opt for walks from public transport.

Train Journey
Image credit: lovell35 | Getty Images

Trains let you enjoy the landscape before you start walking.

To link our towns and cities, our train network goes through some amazing countryside locations. Many of which have stations near fantastic walking routes. We’ve put together some ideas for walks from train stations, which will take you away from the crowds, right into the wild beauty of the British countryside. 

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1.    Walks in the Peak District from train stations

Created in 1951, the Peak District was the UK's first designated national park and it’s easy to see why. The area’s natural beauty combined with its charming towns and villages makes it a tourist magnet. Visit Mam Tor or Kinder Scout in the summer months and you won’t be alone but with 555 square miles to choose from, even the busy Peak District still has a few hidden gems for walkers to discover.

Peak District
Peak District National Park | Image credit: chris2766 | Getty Images

Train lines in the Peak District

If you like your walks to start at train stations, head to the Peak District. Both the Hope Valley line and the Derwent Valley line have train stations that stop at pretty villages and towns, each with great walking potential.

Walk - Hope station to Hope Brink circular

You don't have to climb Kinder Scout to appreciate it, how about taking in views of the famous high point across the valleys whilst you enjoy a peaceful stroll to the stone marker known as Hope Cross. Be prepared for a surprise when you see the shape of this fascinating guidepost. 

Station Hope (HOP)

Distance 6.7 miles

Terrainsome uneven with stiles

Refreshments Hope village

Toilets Hope car park

From Hope station, follow the footpath that heads north to Aston. Continue north and then northwest on the lane then take the bridleway up onto Hope Brink where you’ll eventually join the Roman road that will take you to Hope Cross. On your return, stay on the Roman road as you head downhill to join a lane and cross the railway near Townhead Bridge. Head southeast into Hope for some well-earned refreshments.

View of Edale village and Mam Tor at Peak District National Park | Image credit: annastories | Canva Pro

Walk - Edale station to Ringing Roger 

Map and compass navigation ability is recommended for this open moorland walk.

Edale is well known for being the official start of the 268-mile Pennine Way. If you visit the Old Nags Head pub, you might see keen walkers taking photos before they set off. And you’re bound to have company if you follow the start of the route up to Kinder Scout. This walk to the Ringing Roger rocks should be less busy. 

Station Edale (EDL)

Distance 3.9 miles

Terrain some steep rocky paths, stiles

Refreshments Grindsbrook Booth (Edale Village)

Toilets Edale car park

From Edale station head north on the lane then take the footpath that leads east to Ollerbrook Farm. Take the permissive footpath that follows Oller Brook and a wall to climb north. Just after the distinctive bend in the wall, cross the brook and the wall then follow the path as it zigzags uphill. Continue up onto the plateau to cross the head of the valley, heading west to the Ringing Roger rocks. After some steepness next to the rocks, follow the clear path south and downhill until you meet the lane at Grindsbrook Booth (Edale Village). Take the opportunity to visit the Old Nags Head for a celebratory drink. 

Pack warm layers and a hot drink, the plateau can be windy and cold. 

2.    Walks in the Lake District from train stations

Lake District
Beautiful sunset at lake in District Lakes, UK| Image credit: Shaiith | Getty Images Pro

The Lake District certainly isn’t short of stunning mountain and water landscapes, but it does lack a bit when it comes to train stations; perhaps surprising when you realise the Lake District National Park covers an impressive 912 square miles. With views that have inspired poets for centuries, it’s worth considering a combination of bus and train if you really want to experience the heart of this beautiful national park.

Train lines in and around the Lake District

Although it’s not easy to experience the centre of the Lake District by train, the wider Cumbria area is well served by train lines. With the West Coast main line, Carlisle and Settle line and the Tyne Valley line giving city connections to London, Leeds and Newcastle, it is possible to find lovely walks from several stations just outside the national park, with the Lakes line taking you into Staveley and Windermere.

Lake Windermere | Image credit: paulfjs | Getty Images

Walk - Staveley station to Potter Tarn

Map and compass navigation ability is recommended for this open moorland walk.

Station Staveley (SVL)

Distance 5.1 miles

Terrain hill tracks and riverside paths

Refreshments Staveley village

Toilets none at the station

Despite being home to one of only two train stations inside the Lake District National Park, Staveley is much quieter than many of the area’s overcrowded tourist honeypots. This walk takes you to Potter Tarn but Gurnal Dubs, another tarn is less than a kilometre away.

Tarns are bodies of water, usually smaller than lakes, that are often found on mountain sides.

From Staveley station walk north to cross the River Kent at the bridge. Head northeast on the footpath across fields to Littlewood Farm. Turn right at the lane to walk southeast, turning left onto the footpath to walk east to Birk Field. Next follow the footpath southeast and uphill until you reach the dam at Potter Tarn. To return, head south on the path south to Hagg Foot and cross the river. Follow the Dales Way signs west along the river back to Staveley.

The land around Gurnal Dubs is access land, which means you can walk where you wish. The land around Potter Tarn is private, which means you should stick to the footpath as much as possible.

3.    Walks in southwest England from train stations

Torquay in South Devon | Image credit: GordonBellPhotography | Getty Images

The jury is out on exactly which counties constitute England’s Southwest but for their stunning walks and great train connections, we've decided to focus here on Devon and Cornwall. With both Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks, as well as stunning and varied coastlines, these counties are perhaps the jewel in England’s train-walking crown.

Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park | Image credit: SkareMedia | Getty Images

Train lines in southwest England

The first thing to note about Devon and Cornwall are their regular mainline train connections to London. The London to Penzance route takes in the bathing beaches of the South Devon coast and links you to the Dartmoor and Tarka lines before crossing the River Tamar into Cornwall, where it gives access to beautiful branch lines like the St Ives Bay line and the Looe Valley line.

South Devon Coast
Walking along the South Coast in Devon | Image credit: Tim Edwards | Getty Images

When it comes to crowd-free walking routes from train stations, in the southwest, you’re spoilt for choice. 

Walk - Luxulyan station and the Treffry Viaduct

Station – Luxulyan (LUX)

Distance – 2.3 miles

Terrain – some rough ground

Refreshments – Luxulyan village

Toilets – Luxulyan village

Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast train line takes you from Par to Newquay but on the way, it passes through the quiet wooded valley of Luxulyan. Once the home of bustling quarry and mining industries, the woods are now lush and quiet but fascinating relics of the valley’s former life remain, including the impressive Treffry Viaduct, over which you can now walk. This short walk takes you over the viaduct but it’s worth exploring the valley further if you have time.

From Luxulyan station head east to meet the Saints Way walking route. Follow this south and over the railway line into the fields. Cross three fields then follow the footpath southeast to head over the viaduct. At the end of the viaduct, walk northeast to meet the car park then the lane. Follow the lane north, turning west at Gatty’s Bridge to head back into Luxulyan village.

More details of walking routes around Luxulyan. 

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4.    Walks from train stations in Wales

Conwy Valley
Overlooking Conwy Valley | Image credit: Bob-McCraight | Getty Images

Train lines in Wales

Most of us probably imagine visiting by car but Wales has great railway coverage, especially if you’re keen to visit some of its less crowded spots. The Conwy Valley line takes you into the heart of Snowdonia National Park, the Cambrian line gives access to the Wales Coast Path all the way up the stunning North Wales coast, and the Cardiff-Manchester line visits Bannau Brycheiniog Brecon Beacons National Park when it calls in at Abergavenny. 

Wales Coast Path
Wales Coast Path | Image credit: stockphoto52 | Getty Images

Llanwrtyd station to Cynghordy station

Stations – Llanwrtyd (LNW) and Cynghordy (CYN)

Distance 10.5 miles

Terrain some rough ground

Refreshments Llanwrtyd Wells

Toilets we recommend going on the train

The Heart of Wales line has its own dedicated long distance walking route; the Heart of Wales Line Trail passes through many of the beautiful community stations along the line, and visits two impressive viaducts. This longish walk from Llanwrtyd station takes you underneath the Cynghordy viaduct, which you’ll travel over if you choose to return by train.

Cynghordy Viaduct
Cynghordy viaduct | Image credit: Nic54 | Getty Images

Sugar Loaf Halt, between Llanwrtyd and Cynghordy is reported to be Wales’ most geographically remote and least used railway station.

As you leave Llanwrtyd station, turn left to walk into the town centre. Turn left again to follow the A438 across the River Irfon. Turn right at the church. Pick up the Heart of Wales Line Trail signs on the left. Follow the trail signs to Cynghordy station, Cynghordy itself is about a mile further on.

You won’t miss the Cynghordy viaduct, it’s just before Cynghordy station.

5.    Walks from train stations near London

There are a surprising number of walking routes that go through London. Many of them, like the 37-mile Jubilee Greenway take you on interesting walks within the city but some long-distance walks, such as the 185-mile Thames Path will take you out into the countryside if you walk far enough. But if you don’t have time for a multi-day hike, the good news is that train lines from London can take you to a huge variety of walking locations.

Train lines from London (that are good for walking) 

London’s train lines connect well with some fantastic long-distance walking routes, and the presence of so many train stations along the way, makes it easy to find manageable day hikes. Here are a couple of examples. 

Train stations on the South Downs Way

South Downs Way
South Downs Way National Trail in Sussex Southern England UK | Image credit: dmitrynaumov | Canva Pro

Although well-known by London walkers, the South Downs Way can offer tranquility just a short walk from its train stations. This 100-mile route joins Winchester and Eastbourne via the chalk landscapes of the South Downs and is served by several of the train lines from London. 

From Southease station (SEE) you have the choice of a climb up to the trig point at Red Lion Pond or a station-to-station amble along the Sussex Ouse Valley Way to Lewes station

Train stations on the North Downs Way

North Downs Way
North Downs Way fingerpost | Image credit: Rich Higgins | Getty Images

The North Downs Way walking route runs for 153 miles across the Southeast of England from Farnham to Dover. Taking in the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs as well as following a section of the Pilgrim’s Way, it’s a historic trail as well as a naturally beautiful one.

Surrey Hills
View of Surrey Hills - Surrey, United Kingdom | Image credit: Rott70 | Getty Images

Good walking stations on the North Downs Way include Box Hill and Westhumble station  (BXW) for a climb up to the (sometimes busy) Box Hill viewpoint and Wye station (WYE) to enjoy the wildlife and views at Wye National Nature Reserve.

Train stations on the Thames Path

Not the UK’s longest river but possibly its most iconic, the Thames runs through beautiful countryside as well as cutting a dash through the capital. The Thames Path follows it for 185 miles from its source in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Woolwich.

The Thames Path has plenty of stations with direct or almost direct connections to London. Some like Oxford and Henley-on-Thames have lovely walks but are very popular with visitors. Other stations on the Thames Path lead to quieter strolls. We've listed two examples below.

Thames Path
Thames Path at Goring | Image credit: JoeDunckley | Getty Images

From Goring and Streatley station (GOR) follow the Thames Path to Hartslock Nature Reserve then take footpaths to find the Chiltern Way and follow it back into Goring.

Marlow station (MLW) is at the end of a branch line but a short distance from the river, where you’ll find the Thames path. Follow the path down to the footbridge at Hurley Lock then into Rassler Wood and Pullingshill Wood before picking up the Chiltern Way to complete your circle at Marlow Weir.

Marlow Weir
Weir at Marlow on the River Thames
| Image credit: stevegeer | Getty Images Signature

How can I find a crowd-free hike near me?

One of the best things about UK train stations is that almost all of them are well connected to fascinating rights of way and possible walking routes. All you really need to find your own quieter train walk is a map and a sense of adventure. You might not find the most popular Instagram selfie spots or the most famous views, but you may well have your walking route all to yourself.


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