Over the last year, many of us have embraced the opportunity to spend more time in the great outdoors. Whether it’s to watch the sun rise over our nearest beauty spot or to meet a friend for a long stroll and a catch up, it’s been delightful to rediscover what our local area has to offer.

Often hailed as one of the best forms of exercise, walking has captured our imagination in a way we never thought possible. However, we often assume that the best walking spots are only located in the Great British countryside, rather than in the hearts of our most popular cities. 

To highlight what’s on offer in our glorious cities, we analysed a range of key factors from several data sources, creating a weighted rank of 50 of the UK’s key cities. Looking at the number of local walking routes, the amount of green space and the activeness of residents, as well as city pollution levels, road traffic safety, and average annual rainfall, we have been able to calculate the best – and worst – cities to be a pedestrian. 
What is the best city for pedestrians? 

With an overall score of 76, the commuter hotspot of Chelmsford has come out on top as the UK’s best city to be a pedestrian. Hugely popular with families and commuters, the Essex city is just 30 miles from London, but boasts plenty of green space for its 170,000 residents so offers the best of both worlds. The city also scores highly thanks to extremely active residents and low rainfall. It’s also one of the safest cities on our list with fewer pedestrian and vehicle accidents than many other cities in the UK. 

Coming in second place is the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield. Teetering on the edge of the Peak District, the city benefits from nearly 300 walking routes within a 25-mile radius. And as you’d expect, it has a high number of active residents. 

The Midlands city of Peterborough takes third place on our list. Encased in greenery and with Nene Park Country Park just three miles out of the city, it’s the perfect place for those who want a vibrant city to explore, but with easy access to the tranquillity of parkland. It also benefits from being one of the driest cities on our list. 

West Yorkshire’s cathedral city, Wakefield, may be well known for its rhubarb, but it’s also one of the best cities for pedestrians. Fourth place on our list, thanks to an abundance of green space, plenty of walking routes, and lower than average rainfall, it’s one of the best cities for those looking to discover the centre and its surrounding areas on foot. 

Rounding off the top five is historic St Albans. On the edge of Chilton Hills AONB, it’s known for its culture, markets and community spirit, it scored highly when it comes to annual rainfall and walking routes (367 within 25 miles). 
Which cities have the most walking routes? 

Another midlands city, Coventry, is home to the most walking routes in the UK. Built on the River Sherbourne, Coventry may be nestled between Birmingham and Leicester, but it’s anything but a concrete jungle. The city boasts 428 walking routes within a 25-mile radius of the centre and is the ideal destination for explorers of all abilities. Alderman's Green Loop is a 45-minute stroll down lanes and Coventry Canal, so is perfect for beginners. For more seasoned walkers, Bluebell Woods Loop from Eastern Green is slightly longer and more demanding so is a great challenge for more confident walkers. 

The metropolis that is London, perhaps surprisingly, came in second spot, with nearly 400 walking routes close-by. Battersea Park’s loop is great for getting in those 10,000 steps a day, while Epping Forest’s Centenary Walk transports you far away from London, despite being just 25 miles from the centre of the capital. 
Which cities have the most green space? 

Often hailed as one of the greenest cities in the world, London is awash with royal parks and leafy spaces nestled between homes and offices, so it’s no surprise that it came top in this category. It eclipses second spot, Carlisle, when looking at green space, it is home to almost 378 million square metres of green space. 

The walled Northern Irish city of Derry may be perched on the banks of the River Foyle, but there’s plenty of land for its residents. It boasts 168,147,340 million square metres of green space, including 70-acre St Columb’s Park, which is home to ruins of a medieval church and an 18th century manor house, alongside amenities such as a leisure centre and sports pitches. Winchester, which is home to 159,713,307 million square metres of green space to enjoy, rounds off the top four. 
Which cities are the safest for pedestrians

With commuters, taxis, buses and other transport, city roads aren’t always seen as the friendliest for pedestrians. However, thanks to investment in green modes of transport, UK cities are now becoming more accessible for pedestrians. The Scottish city of Aberdeen has come out on top as the safest for those on foot, due to the lowest number of pedestrian casualties caused by cars.
Which city is home to the most active residents? 

The Scots and the Welsh are the most active in the UK. Scottish capital, Edinburgh is home to the most active residents, while Aberdeen comes in second place. 78% of Edinburgh dwellers walk for more than 30 minutes every day, while 70% of Aberdonians state the same. Swansea, Newport and Cardiff residents make up the top five, respectively. 
Which city is the wettest? 

British weather can be unpredictable, but in which city are you least likely to face a heavy downpour? With an annual rainfall of just 379.34mm, St Albans is officially the driest city in the country. Located just outside the M25 in Hertfordshire, it’s family friendly so is a perfect spot for those who still need easy access to the city. Miles ahead of second city, Cambridge, it gets nearly 100mm less rainfall, and more than 1cm less than the wettest cities in the UK, Gloucester and Aberdeen. 
Which city is the least polluted? 

As the UK Government recently announced plans to cut carbon emissions by 68% in the next decade, many cities already have measures in place to help achieve this target. And, whilst some cities are ahead of the game, our research suggests others still have some catching up to do. 

The Scottish city of Dundee is officially the least polluted in the UK, scoring 86 out of 100. Second was Peterborough and rounding off the top three was Worcester. All of which all scored 80 or above. 
Explore the full table below
We analysed key factors from a range of data sources including weather data, pollution, walking routes & green space, road traffic safety and more, we created a weighted rank of 50 of the UK's best cities to be a pedestrian in. Data from multiple sources was analysed, before being combined into a single score giving us our overall rank. Data accurate as of December 2020. 
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