Living in Australia, we’re on a really good wicket when it comes to hiking. Fabulous weather, pristine national parks, stunning coastlines, and countless immaculate trails. It’s easy to take it all for granted. It wasn’t until Dan immersed himself in the UK hiking scene that he realised just how lucky we are.

Like many young Australians, I jumped at the chance to live in the UK on the usual two-year working visa. The chance to live overseas to experience a different way of life sounded too good to pass up. 

After a couple of years of city livin’ in the concrete jungle that is London, I moved to the Lancashire countryside, just north of Manchester. With the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, and Lake District a short distance away, I got stuck into more hiking than ever in the UK.

That’s when it dawned on me – there were many things I’d simply taken for granted when hiking in Australia. So, after smashing out many trails in the UK over the last year, it’s time to share just how different it is to hiking in Aus. Some reasons you might expect, but others will surprise you!


I Took Hiking in Australia for Granted – But It Took Moving to the UK To Find That Out, Dan Piggott - UK, hiking, mist

Shite Weather

Glorious sunshine, clear blue skies and warm weather. This isn’t what you’ll find in the UK. Yes, poorer weather in the UK is to be expected. But, with that, comes a whole different mindset. As my British wife Beck tells me, ‘If we cancel a hike because it’s raining, we’ll never hike!’ 

So, with that pressure to be stoic when (not if) it rains, there’s been many unnecessary and miserable hikes in the rain, fog, and mist. And this happens nearly as much in summer as it does in winter!

Read more: 7 Tips For Rainy Day Hiking

Boggy Trails

With particularly ugly weather during winter, expect an infinite amount of muddy and boggy trails throughout the UK. Sure, I’ve experienced some muddy trails in Australia; but, the UK boggy-trail-game is next level. 

Never in Australia, would I rule out hiking in a particular national park for six months, due to messy and unwalkable trails. Hiking in uncomfortable gumboots, ‘wellies’ if you’re from the UK, is your only option, and it ain’t pretty.


Expensive Gear and No Idea Where to Start

Gumboots may not break the bank, but all the extra jackets will. Admittedly, my hiking wardrobe needed a serious upgrade when I moved to the UK. 

For most hikes in the Australian winter, I could get away with a decent waterproof jacket and a couple of other layers. Well, that certainly doesn’t suffice during a British winter. Expect looking like the Michelin Man to become the new norm if you’re an Aussie hiker battling UK trails in winter.


Lack of (Proper) Beaches

Of course, Australia has some of the best beaches in the world, making way for glorious coastal walks. The white sand, consistent waves, and gorgeous natural surrounds easily outshines the pebbled, still-watered beaches covered by the shade of high-rise buildings in the UK. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are spectacular beaches in the UK. But, they are very far away from many of the major cities. To explore the best beaches from Manchster, it’s about eight hours to the north coast of Scotland, five hours to Cornwall and three hours to the Yorkshire coast. Even then, when you get to the beach for your coastal walk, yeah, it’s probably raining.

Read more: The 10 Best Coastal Walks in NSW


There are some beautiful beaches in the UK but they’re a pain to get to

Confusing Public Rights of Way

The ‘right to roam’ in England is a concept that has taken me some time to get used to. Basically, ‘open access land’ is privately-owned land such as mountains, moors, heaths or downs, that hikers can access without having to use paths. 

However, there’s also ‘excepted land’, which is private land such as farms you can access by using dedicated public rights of way. So, a hiker’s right to access these private lands is called ‘right to roam’. Being initially unaware of this, I was a little confused when I had to cross some bloke’s farm to complete an apparently legitimate trail.


It’s a Densely Populated Place

The UK is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Farewell quiet trails in popular national parks. For Sydneysiders, if you thought the Royal National Park gets busy, you’d be shocked to see the hoards of people flocking to hike in the Lake District in summer.

Driving Narrow Country Lanes to Arrive at Trailheads

Some trailheads in the UK aren’t so straightforward to reach. While in Australia some difficult to reach trailheads are via unsealed dirt roads, at least they’re usually wide!

In the UK, most roads are sealed, but they’re certainly not wide enough. It’s super unnerving to drive along a single-lane country road, where the ordeal of reversing a long way awaits you if you happen to meet an oncoming vehicle.


A Sunrise Hike Means No Sleep Whatsoever

In Australia, to complete a sunrise hike in summer, you’re getting up at some silly hour. But it’s even worse in the UK! In summer, sunrise in the north of England is around 4:30am, and even earlier in Scotland, between 3 and 4am. 

If you’re planning a sunrise hike you might be heading off around midnight! There’s no need to sleep the night before with these sunrise hike shenanigans, just throw an all-nighter and collapse when you get home.


We woke up at 1am to get to this sunrise

If There Isn’t a Trig, Don’t Bother

‘Trig bagging’ was an unfamiliar term when I arrived in the UK. It’s when walkers attempt to hike to as many trig points as possible. Then there are the ‘Munro baggers’ who specifically hike Munros (a mountain in Scotland with a height over 914.4 metres). Isn’t that the most British distance ever?

There’s also the ‘hill baggers’, which should be fairly self-explanatory. Why all the bagging? Can’t we just enjoy a hike in the UK without needing to bag something?


They Still Use Miles

I certainly took the metric system for granted. When hiking in the UK, I’m constantly multiplying miles by 1.6 to figure out how many kilometres in a trail. There’s nothing tougher than misreading a sign as 5km, when nearing the end of a long hike, when it is in fact 5 miles. Dammit, there’s actually 8km to go!

It’s Not All Bad

Sure, it took me a while to get used to hiking in the UK, having been spoiled by magnificent Australian hiking conditions for many years. But, with the right gear, attitude and know-how, I’m enjoying hiking in the UK more and more. With that said, don’t ever take hiking in Australia for granted like I did!