21 Unusual Facts and Stats about Hiking in the UK

In this blog, we’ve compiled a list of all our favourite stats about hiking in the UK. Our aim is to explore exactly why hiking and happiness go hand in hand.

A while ago, we wrote a similar article concerning hikers across the Atlantic pond, titled Surprising Stats About Hiking In The USA. Those of you familiar with the format will be ready for a healthy dose of motivation.

Explorer hiking in the UK
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The Trail Awaits!

Not only have we picked out a few of our most cherished hiking quotes, we’ve prepared tips and statistics that will inspire you to get back on the trail as quickly as possible.

After all, hiking is an outdoor activity for all age groups. All you have to do is walk a substantive distance outdoors and navigate the obstacles you face along the way.

For some of us, this might even mean scrambling down waterfalls like a rural Spiderman. For others, who like to take it easier, the bends of the trail are enough. Inclines are equivalent to turbulence on an airplane.

One thing we can all join in is our appreciation of the potent benefits that come from this activity. Physical exercise is a catalyst for positive change. The wellbeing that comes from simply taking a step outdoors should never be underestimated.

Age Of The Sitters

There have been many studies, like this one on PubMed Central, which prove that time spent in natural settings is invaluable. Hiking forces us to meander freely without feeling too rushed. Of course, this depends on the speed at which we walk.

Whole-body movement has widely been neglected in common society. The joys of sitting in increasingly comfortable spots has led many of us to sedentary lifestyles.

UK hiker enjoys the view
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So, in a world where many of us earn a living from staring at screens, any act of physical activity begins to feel like a revolution of sorts.

This isn’t just some trendy bandwagon we’re all clinging onto. Health care professionals promote wellness and health for its preventive and curative qualities.

Some say the Italian Petrarch was one of the world’s first hikers. In the 14th century, this scholar, poet and humanist would ramble up mountains for the sheer fun of it. His impact during the more health conscious Renaissance is still alive and intact today.

Good sleep. Regular exercise. A balanced diet. We all know what we need in life to feel better about ourselves. It isn’t rocket science. The effort to go out and do what is required – that’s what’s missing.

The one thing we need to go out and commit to that effort is motivation. And that’s where this blog on UK stats about hiking comes in. Let’s see if we can’t recruit a few more nature-loving hikers and send them off to take their first uncertain steps in the big, wide wilds.

UK hiker poses by the river
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21. There are 24 different ways to do it

From bridlepaths to goat paths, there are an astounding 24 different types of hiking trails that you could look up in the dictionary. This is good news for those who like to be creative out there.

20. It isn’t competitive, really

Non-competitive activities might not be appealing to all of us, but there is relief to be found in the fact that hiking doesn’t simply reward maximum effort.

Hiking isn’t about getting to your destination the fastest. It’s like surfing – the one who’s having the most fun is always winning out there.

19. There’s no need to take out a loan to get started

Hiking is easy on the pocket, especially when compared to other outdoor activities, like skiing. Okay, so you might need to invest in some reliable footwear, but that’s about it!

The phrase ‘all the gear and no idea’ is also easily applied to many zealous hikers out on the trails. We’ve met guides in Indonesia who swear nothing beats a careworn pair of flip-flops.

18. It isn’t always called ‘hiking’

So, you might think that English-speaking countries are all unified in their use of the term ‘hiking’.

In actual fact, if you were in Australia you might call it “bushwalking”. Or, you could be into “tramping” if you’re used to getting lost in the snowy mountains of New Zealand.

While in the UK, “rambling”, “fellwalking”, “hillwalking” and plain “walking” are all common examples of acceptable verbiage.

UK hiker in snowy wilderness
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17. Did we mention it’s inexpensive?

In our other article 20 Surprising Stats About Hiking In The USA, we learned all about the popularity of putting one foot in front of the other.

It’s interesting that more than half of Americans (52%), involved in a 2018 survey by, admitted to being runners. Whereas only 30% said they were hikers.

Again, we should reiterate that there is a silver lining to the fact you don’t have to spend money on hiking. Some would say hikers are far better off than most outdoor enthusiasts (even if their community is smaller).

16. It’s natural therapy

The activity of hiking seemingly exists for those of us who suffer with anxiety and depression. A hike in a natureful setting is like a tonic of sorts – it never fails to make you feel rejuvenated.

We could wax lyrical about how the outdoors can soothe your mind. It’s really worth just trying it for yourself, instead of wasting good hiking time listening to us. Also, nature never charges you for therapy sessions!

15. It helps us take life at a slower pace

The average hiking speed is roughly 2.5 miles per hour. That means there’s a lot us taking it easy out there, which reinforces our point about the value of non-competitive activities.

14. Hikers come up with great ideas

It’s true that backpacks were invented by a hiker. The innovative rambler, Asher Dick Kelty, specialised in external-frame designs and brought us the world’s first backpack with an aluminium frame.

13. Hiking helps us to feel more creative

Stanford University published a study that showed a near 60% rise in creativity for those who traded sedentary ideating for churning up ideas on the move.

Another study (one that pertains to UK stats about hiking) revealed hiking is highly beneficial for young adults in boosting their creativity and problem-solving abilities.

UK hiker looks out over a lake
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12. It helps you to sleep like a baby

It’s been proven hiking can cure insomnia and dramatically improve your ability to sleep. Exposure to natural light and stress-free heart rate elevation are two factors that enable both mind and body to relax and reset.

11. You may learn how to safely encounter wildlife

Okay, so you shouldn’t stumble into too many bears on the UK trails (unless you wander too close to an escapable zoo). However, wildlife safety tips are readily available to all hiking enthusiasts.

Even if UK hikers don’t master the art of stumbling into bears, you may learn a thing or two about how to handle your next encounter with a cantankerous swan.

10. It can be dangerous

On a slightly more morbid note (found during our search for UK stats about hiking), the mortality rate for hikers is roughly 1 death per every 10 million participants.

On average, 11 hikers die each year in the national parks of North America. While most years Mountain Rescue in England and Wales report over a thousand incidents.

Most deaths are caused by falls or thermal stress from heat exhaustion and heat stroke (most common in the summer months).

9. Hiking elevates your senses

It’s true that as you explore a natural setting you grow more attuned to your surroundings. The more you hike, the stronger this sensory elevation becomes.

Before long you will begin to recognise bird calls, tree species and all kinds of other wild delights along the way.

8. Emperor Hadrian was a hiker too

The first ever record ‘hike’ was supposedly taken by Roman Emperor Hadrian (known for his wall-building in the North of England) way back in 125 AD. Hadrian famously hiked up the volcanic slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna.

7. Did we mention hiking is booming?

According to a recent survey (found as we searched for UK stats about hiking) the percentage of hikers in the UK (those who identify themselves as such) dramatically increased from 16% in 2018 to 23% in 2020.

Hiker explores the Isle of the Skye
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6. Recreational hiking goes way back

The poet Petrarch is often cited as one of the world’s earliest hikers (sorry, Hadrian). There is a famous account of how he hiked to the summit of Mont Ventoux in France, back in April 1336.

During this hike, Petrarch was joined by his brother and servants. While humans elsewhere in the world were dying from plagues and various conflicts.

In our search for UK stats about hiking we found that roughly 80 million people participated in hiking in 2018. Many of these hikers stayed close to home and only 2.7% travelled more than 100 miles for their adventures.

4. Hiking burns calories

More arduous hikes are also cardio workouts. A hiker who weighs around 70 kilos is likely to burn an impressive 440 calories after hiking for an hour. Throw in some uneven terrain and you’ll truly put your muscles to work and burn even more.

3. All food is good when you’re hiking

So, one of the secrets of hiking is that it makes unappealing foodstuffs seem delicious. Work up an appetite on the trail and see if you don’t wind up wolfing down soggy sandwiches and bruised fruit like they’re nutritional candy.

2. It doesn’t always enforce a willingness to wander too far

A 2021 study from Our Sporting Life showed that walking for recreation saw a spike in popularity throughout the year. A large number of women became involved in the activity.

Folk in Warrington were proven to be most likely to look for local walks and parts of Wales seemed to breed the most hikers that were fond of wandering further afield.

‘…Petrarch is often cited as one of the world’s earliest hikers (sorry, Hadrian). There is a famous account of how he hiked to the summit of Mont Ventoux in France, back in April 1336.’

1. It improves your professional standing

Okay, so this one might have to be shoe-horned into an entirely different species of fact. However, it is proven (though it might not have been proven in any verifiable studies) that hiking looks great on your CV.

The hobbies column can always be uplifted by a fun-loving employee who takes on a challenge and doesn’t flinch at the occasional downpour. There are metaphorical mountains to climb in life as well.

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10 Incredible Lesser Known Hiking Trails for Explorers