JAMIE LOFTUS JAMIE LOFTUS

A hobbyist photographer's top 5 UK hiking locations
By Jamie Loftus

Hi, I'm Jamie – graphic designer, blog writer, photographer, filmmaker.

I'm relatively new to Rohan, having recently purchased some gear for my outdoor pursuits – pre-lockdown. I said in my Instagram post, it was the best decision I'd made this year, no exaggeration. I've never had such sweet outdoor gear – it's unbelievably lightweight and miles better than my other gear. Most importantly, it's kept me warm and dry on many of my hikes.

So, when Rohan reached out to me on Instagram, requesting to share some of my photography, I jumped at the opportunity. Here in this guest blog, I'm going to detail my top 5 hiking locations from the last year and include some photos I've taken along the way too.

I am pretty picky with what I consider to be a good hike. It is mainly dependent on 5 simple factors that I've listed as things I'd probably say out loud at some point:

1. Oh god. Those views are glorious!

2. Wow, can you hear that? No cars...

3. Rocky outcrops, mountains, forests, lakes and rivers? That sounds like my kind of hike!

4. Hey gang, let's grab a photo here

5. Who wants a snack? I made banana flapjacks again

In short, these are the views, avoiding noise, trail variability, hiking troop and great trail snacks.

In no particular order. Let's jump into it.

1. Spring walks in the Southern Cotswolds - Tyndale Monument area

It is actually this time of year that I find walking in the south of the Cotswolds to be most beautiful. Swathes of woodland wrap around the southern edges that are filled with wild garlic. Lambs are often bouncing around the fields, and bees are busy in the air. It feels quintessential and typically British, like something out of a Famous Five novel.

The hike here is for those of you who are craving some close contours. I have found that it is best to start in the Woodmancote section of Dursley. From here you can grab a quick coffee and then begin your ascend over into the next valley.

It is in this valley that you will find yourself surrounded by green fields and steep valley sides, the perfect escape from any modern-day distractions. You can walk up the other side and across to the Tyndale monument (see photo below).

The monument looks out towards the Severn Estuary, and on a clear day, you can see for miles.

You can either turn this walk into a large circuit or retrace your steps. One thing for sure is you will be exclaiming about the views, lack of traffic, and if you're lucky enough, how fantastic your families baking skills are.

2. The Brilliant Brecons - 4 waterfalls walk

I am incredibly fortunate that over the last year, I have managed to visit the Brecon Beacons on three separate occasions. As a keen hobby photographer, my hike isn't where most people would suspect (Pen y Fan). As you will have guessed from the title, it is the stunning four waterfalls walk near Ystradfellte.

Not only is this a great place to capture some long exposure photography, but it is also incredibly relaxing listening to the flowing water through the valley.

There's an abundance of wildlife in this area. While exploring this location, we saw many Dippers and other exciting species of bird. Dippers exhibit strange behaviours compared to most common British birds and hunt for food under the waters in flowing rivers and streams in a dipping motion.

3. A lookout from Mam Tor

Unlike many of the other locations, Mam Tor is by far the most pretty to catch in the golden hour. If you park in the village of Edale, you can walk across to Castleton for lunch and coffee. From there you can snake your way back up to the top of Mam Tor where you have panoramic views across the Peaks.

If you happen to go in winter, you can plan your walk so you hit sunset just as you arrive at the peak of the Tor. This provides for some pretty fantastic views and pictures. It is also a lovely spot for a cuppa and some homemade banana flapjack (as mentioned in my five factors above).

4. The Shropshire Hills

I am going to start this one with a shameless plug. If you want a great long walk in the Shropshire hills with stunning views and trail versatility, then head over to my blog for a full detailed description of where to park and the sights you'll see.

I was shocked that I had never been to the Shropshire hills until this year and that my avidly hiking family had never ventured here. This is also another excellent place for those contour craving hikers.

The best place I have found to start this hike is at the National Trust car park near Church Stretton. It is quite busy, which usually goes against my adventure instincts. Still, once you rise high into the hills, most of the general public have given up and turned around. This means once you break out onto the tops of the hills, you are treated to stunning views with only the most avid of hikers.

The route I took takes you up by the course of a stream which features a magnificent waterfall at the top. Another great photo opportunity, as seen in my photos.

5. Cornish Coasts - The Roseland Heritage coastline

I don't think much explanation is needed here. The Cornish coast is beautiful, especially in the heights of summer. Sandy beaches with refreshing waters, and if you know the right places to go, you can almost seclude yourself from the masses.

I'd suggest one of the most picturesque areas for hiking is around the St. Mawes headland.

Across the bay, from Falmouth, this section of coastline boasts some of the best sea views the south coast has to offer. With few large towns nearby it is an easy and accessible way to fend off the hordes of holidaymakers to reach peace and tranquility on the coastal paths.

So, there you have it – my personal top five UK hiking locations, which, when we do emerge from lockdown, we can appreciate in all their beautiful glory – together.

See more from Jamie on his website and follow his adventures via his Instagram.