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10 best walking holidays in the UK for an active staycation

From hiking the Scottish Highlands to climbing in the Cotswolds, here are some of the best routes to ramble in the British Isles

Wednesday 13 September 2023 14:46 BST
Tread tracks, trails and footpaths from Pembrokeshire to the Yorkshire Dales
Tread tracks, trails and footpaths from Pembrokeshire to the Yorkshire Dales (Getty Images)

With 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 15 National Parks in the UK, it’s no surprise that a tangle of footpaths, tracks and rambling routes zig-zag across the shore.

A fusion of coastal hikes, long-distance trails and hillside ambles litter the versatile landscapes of the British Isles and the UK has a walking holiday to suit everyone looking to tread the tracks on two feet – complemented, of course, by charming stays at quintessentially British B&Bs and hotels.

Whatever the time of year, our domestic shores abound with beauty, so don your hiking boots, rucksack and a precautionary waterproof and head out into the spectacular scenery of the Cotswolds, Pembrokeshire, Peak and Lake Districts for a family-friendly or intrepid adventure in nature.

From trekking the 17 National Trails to hiking England’s tallest peak, here are some of the best UK provider packages for multi-day walking holidays in EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

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Scafell Pike, Lake District

Discover the Lake District National Park by foot (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Explore offers avid walkers a “Walk the Lake District” package in the northern Lake District from the cosy base of the blissful Borrowdale Valley. For seven days between May and September, groups of up to 16 can hike Scafell Pike, Haystacks and Cat Bells amongst the rugged hills while staying on the doorstep of the fells.

Think days spent summiting England’s highest mountain and rambling fells alongside pretty market towns and cosy seasonal dinners. From £1,465pp, including most meals, tour leaders, transport and accommodation . 

The Cotswold Way, Cotswolds

This National Trail extends from Chipping Campden to the Roman city of Bath (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Compass Holidays has an 11-night self-guided walking holiday on the Cotswold Way National Trail for explorers keen to tread the 103-mile track from Chipping Campden to Bath. Patchwork fields, stone walls and rolling hills meet chocolate box villages and Roman history on the walk through the idyllic English countryside. All accommodation, traditional full English breakfasts and luggage transfers are included in the quintessentially British adventure.

Enquire here for a quote.

South West Coast Path, Somerset to Dorset

England’s longest marked footpath, the South West Coast Path runs for 630 miles (Getty Images)

The Natural Adventure features an active “St Ives to Penzance” holiday on England’s longest long-distance footpath, the South West Coast Path, from £870pp. The 630-mile National Trail stretches from Somerset to Dorset, with this itinerary covering the rugged and remote Cornish shores. Highlights of the action-packed week include Pendeen Watch, Sennen Cove and the island of St. Michael’s Mount.

All guesthouse accommodation, breakfasts and luggage transfers between hotels are provided for optimum comfort during nights spent in Cornwall’s picturesque fishing villages from April to October.

The West Highland Way, Scottish Highlands

Wild landscapes blanket the 96-mile West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Maximum Adventure offers a seven-night walking holiday for long-distance lovers to walk 96 miles on the West Highland Way. Prices for the trek start from £849pp April through October including B&B accommodation, luggage transfers, maps and guidebooks.

The walking holiday through the Highlands visits some of Scotland’s finest lochs such as Loch Lomond, mountains including Ben Nevis and the wild nature of Rannoch Moor on the journey south to north on the classic long-distance trail.

Snowdonia Slate Trail, Wales

It’s an 83-mile circular route from Bangor to Bethesda on the Snowdonia Slate Trail (Getty Images)

Ramblers Holidays’ “The Wonders of Snowdonia” gives walkers an introduction to Wales’ famous hills, ancient forests and slate quarries, from Bethesda to Betws-y-Coed. Open moorlands, mountain lakes and remote sheep farms populate the route on a section of the 83-mile Snowdonia Slate Trail.

The six-night journey costs £1,039pp in April, June and October for half-board hiking in the heart of Snowdonia. All ensuite accommodation, transport and an experienced tour guide are included in the price.

The Lizard Peninsula Coast, Cornwall

Trail around the Lizard Peninsula, the southern tip of mainland Britain (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Compass Holidays hosts a “Lizard Peninsula” Cornwall walking holiday year-round from Helston to Mullion. The tour includes views of sprawling coastline, heathland and tree-fringed creeks passing freshwater Loe Pool, and the rocks of Kynance Cove on sections of the South West Coast Path – better still, there are plenty of pasty stops on route. All B&B accommodation, luggage transfers, a GPS smartphone app and a tour pack with colour-coded routes are included in the Cornish adventure.

Enquire here for a quote.

Pennine Way, Yorkshire Dales

The Pennine Way spans 268 miles from Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Macs Adventure provides a 19-day walking tour of the complete 256-mile Pennine Way National Trail treading tracks through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland. Traverse the moors, take in the sights of Swaledale Valley and discover the history of Hadrian’s Wall on this northern journey.

The long-distance walking holiday from April to September includes overnight accommodation, all breakfasts and luggage transfers from £2,020pp. 

Causeway Coast Way, Northern Ireland

From Portstewart to Ballycastle, coastal paths trek past Northern Ireland’s most iconic attractions (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Absolute Escapes offers a “Moyle Way & Causeway Coast Way” package in the dramatically rugged landscape of Northern Ireland. For seven nights year-round from £725pp, small groups can walk 60.5 miles from Cushendall to Portstewart in Ulster following the banks of the Glenariff River to the waterfalls of Glenariff Forest Park and onto the Kintyre Peninsula.

Think forest and coastal walking and a day’s visit to Rathlin Island. All accommodation, traditional Irish breakfasts and a personalised itinerary with route recommendations are included in the price.

White Peak Way, Peak District

An 85-mile circular footpath makes up the Peak District’s White Peak Way (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Contours Holidays has a six-night circular walking holiday from Buxton for active holidaymakers to explore the White Peaks of the Peak District. Seven dales of the Peak District National Park meet gritstone edges and tranquil valleys on the 97-mile journey with built-in stops at charming cobbled Derbyshire villages.

For £730pp, groups will stay in quaint B&Bs and inns along the trail, enjoy daily breakfasts and door-to-door luggage transfers to save lugging your luggage around the peaks.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Pembrokeshire

The dramatic coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path stretches 186 miles from St Dogmaels to Amroth (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Celtic Trails Walking Holidays hosts a 10-night “Sandy Haven to St Dogmaels” package comprising a 110-mile adventure on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path that starts from £1,210pp. Highlights of the action-packed holiday include the remote golden beach at Marloes Sands, Britain’s smallest city by population in St David’s, and Goodwick fishing village.

All guesthouse accommodation, breakfasts, luggage transfers and route planning are provided for a hassle-free hike around Pembrokeshire. 

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