Home #WHERETONEXT New Study Reveals World’s “Happiest” Walks

New Study Reveals World’s “Happiest” Walks

A unique study from outdoor holiday provider Inghams has analyzed over 300 Instagram posts to reveal which walking trails make us smile the most

Group of friends hiking together outdoors exploring the wilderness and having fun

Many of us can relate to the mental boost we get from being outdoors, and immersing ourselves in natural environments has been linked to an increase in happiness1. With this in mind, Inghams wanted to find out more about the connection between happiness and walking, revealing which popular walking areas around the world are bringing the biggest smiles to our faces.  

In their latest research, Inghams uses Instagram posts and smile-recognition software to see which popular trails around the world are bringing the biggest smiles to our faces. The software analysed the scale of the smiles in pictures of people conquering trails and summits around the world, to generate a happiness score that could be recorded and compared to reveal a tangible measurement of how happy travellers are as they enjoy some of the world’s most naturally beautiful places. 

The World’s 10 “Happiest” Walks 

            Rank           Area           Country           Happiness Score 
          1         The South West Coast Path         England, UK         99.30 
          2         The Thames Path         England, UK          99.29 
          3         The Blue Mountains         Australia         98.38 
          4         Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)          Wales, UK         96.50 
          5         The Appalachian Mountains         USA and Canada          95.94 
          6         The Bruce Trail         Canada          95.69 
          7         The Cairngorm Mountains         Scotland, UK          94.46 
          8         The Canadian Rockies         Canada          93.67 
          9         The Alps         Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Monaco         93.66 
          10         The Carpathian Mountains         Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czechia, Serbia         90.76 
  1. The South West Coast Path 

At the top of the list is the South West Coast Path, with an overall happiness score of 99.30. This walking trail is the longest national path in England at 630 miles long, and takes you along the charming coastlines of popular English walking destinations such as Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. A grin is sure to appear on walkers’ faces as they explore this trail and admire some of Britain’s most delightful beaches and clifftop views, hear the seabirds calling, smell the salty air and enjoy an ice-cream in a picturesque seaside village. 

  • The Thames Path 

Following in close second is the Thames Path, another long-distance walking trail located in England. It runs from Gloucestershire to London and boasts an exuberant happiness score of 99.29, with walkers delighting in both the vibrant city vibes and olde-world countryside scenes that the river path provides along southern parts of the country.  

  • The Blue Mountains 

The third happiest walking trail in the world can be found in the Blue Mountains in Australia, with an impressive happiness score of 98.38. Visitors will be met with a unique landscape due to the blue haze, caused by the sunlight scattering through the eucalyptus oil droplets (hence the name). Besides the impressive views, the Blue Mountains are also home to a wide variety of animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, colourful parrots and unique reptiles, giving walkers a super safari-like walking experience.  

  • Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)   

Returning back to the UK, Eryri National Park (formerly known as Snowdonia) claims the fourth spot with a score of 96.5. Nestled in north-west Wales, the region provides jaw-dropping panoramic views that bring big smiles to the explorers who visit here. The area is rich in history, making it an ideal place for nature lovers who are also interested in immersing themselves in Welsh culture and learning more about the UK’s important historic sites.  

  • The Appalachian Mountains   

Rounding off the top five happiest walking locations are North America’s Appalachian Mountains, with a happiness score of 95.94. The mountain range is a fantastic spot for walking enthusiasts as its vast system of well-maintained trails will satisfy the needs of outdoor lovers of any skill level. Travellers will also stumble upon the USA and Canada’s significant cultural and historical heritage sites, creating a happy walking experience that explorers are keen to commemorate on social media.  

Anne Williams, Director of Marketing at Inghams, comments: 

“If you are looking to unwind and do something good for your overall wellbeing, exploring the great outdoors on a walk or hike is the perfect way to do so. Anyone who loves spending time in nature, knows how good it can make you feel on the inside, as well as the physical benefits.  

Diving into social media data to see which walking trails make us smile the most has been incredibly interesting, with our findings revealing that many British walking locations including the South West Coast Path and the Thames Path are prompting big grins among walkers and explorers.