Walking: Britain's most popular places to start a hike revealed

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Image caption,
Edale, at the start of the Pennine Way, is Britain's favourite place to begin a hike

Britain's favourite spot to start a walk is Edale in the Peak District, according to the Ordnance Survey (OS).

Data from the mapping organisation's app and online service found the busiest parts of the country for hikers.

At the start of the Pennine Way and within easy reach of Manchester and Sheffield, the Derbyshire village was the most popular starting point.

Travel writer Roly Smith said Edale had "just about everything".

"It's a beautiful valley, which stands in the shadow of Kinder Scout, the highest part of the Peak District, and one of my favourite places on earth."

With a railway station in the village connecting it to Stockport and Sheffield, Edale's popularity is also boosted by being accessible to people without a car, he said.

The top five starting points for walkers in Britain are:

  • Edale, Peak District
  • Fairholmes, Peak District
  • Pen-y-Pass, Snowdonia
  • Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Yorkshire Dales
  • Ambleside, Lake District

The OS analysed more than 800,000 routes created and publicly shared by users of the OS Maps app, analysing how many passed through each square kilometre of Britain.

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Image caption,
Two of Britain's favourite places to start a walk were in the Peak District
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Image caption,
The top of Snowdon is one of the busiest places for walkers

Tompion Platt, director of advocacy and engagement at Ramblers, said these locations deserved their popularity, but called for better public transport to help people access a wider range of walking routes.

"There are so many under-explored areas of our national parks that are well worth seeing, and getting off the beaten track can be really rewarding," he said.

The place where the largest number of walkers' routes crossed was the summit of Snowdon in north Wales.

But hikers did not overlook urban areas: London and Manchester were unsurprisingly the busiest for walkers, but Wakefield leapt ahead of Birmingham and Sheffield.

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Image caption,
Horton-in-Ribblesdale was a popular base camp for nature rambles in the Yorkshire Dales
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Image caption,
Many people started Lake District walks from Ambleside, pictured under autumn mist

For those who would rather avoid the crowds, Ordnance Survey also identified some of the least-walked areas.

They included remote and sparsely populated places such as north Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and north Aberdeenshire.

Estuary areas like the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, Spalding near The Wash and Sunk Island in the Humber Estuary were also rarely walked.

And some places apparently missed out on walkers because of popular beauty spots nearby, such as west Carmarthenshire, not far from the Pembrokeshire Coast, and the area between Dartmoor and the north Devon coast.

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Image caption,
The isolated northern part of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides is one of the quietest spots for a hike

In total, 818,524 walking routes were analysed by Ordnance Survey.

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