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New data shows hikers walked further and longer this summer

Young hikers on the coast path
The British public hiked more this summer, and for longer distances (Image credit: Getty Images)

This summer saw more Britons donning their hiking boots and hitting the nation’s trails, according to newly published data revealing that the British public hiked more, and for longer distances.

The findings by Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for Great Britain, are the latest to confirm a spike in outdoor activity as a result of the pandemic. The figures show that the number of walks recorded increased by almost 50% over the previous summer, while the average length of a walk over the summer was 12km (7.45 miles), a 4% increase. OS studied the nation’s outdoor habits from June through to September of 2021.

“This summer has revealed a significant upward trend in outdoor activities. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, we have seen people build new connections with the outdoors,” says Nick Giles, OS Managing Director for Leisure.

Alpkit Sierra Insulated Vest

The figures show that the number of walks recorded increased by almost 50% over the previous summer (Image credit: Alpkit)

Interestingly, the numbers also suggest that the elevation climbed during the 890,000 recorded walks this summer decreased by 36%, something that Giles chalked up to an increase in newcomers to hiking who may be seeking less challenging routes as they start out.

In terms of location, the biggest increases in foot traffic were found in Pembrokeshire, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks, all of which saw increases of at least 80%, while parts of the East Coast and rural Scotland are home to the least crowded trails.

Cyclists and runners were also found to have increased the length of their routes this summer.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Adventure.com. She is an author, mountain enthusiast and yoga teacher who loves heading uphill on foot, ski, bike and belay. She recently returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland after 20 years living in the USA, 11 of which were spent in the rocky mountains of Vail, Colorado where she owned a boutique yoga studio and explored the west's famous peaks and rivers. She is a champion for enjoying the outdoors sustainably as well as maintaining balance through rest and meditation, which she explores in her book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a beginner's path to healing with deep relaxation. She enjoys writing about the outdoors, yoga, wellness and travel. In her previous lives, she has also been a radio presenter, music promoter, university teacher and winemaker.