Why take a ‘normal' holiday when you have an EPIC vacation! Use this list of the UK's Absolute Ten Best Hiking Holidays to choose your next vacation!
On these 4-20 day adventures, you walk from one village to the next so you only need to carry a daypack (unless you plan to backpack). There are companies that can transport your luggage for you, or even plan the entire holiday for you: all you have to do is show up and walk!
None of these paths are technical so you don't need any technical skills. You should be reasonably fit and able to walk most of the day.
Listen to the podcast (player above) and read the complete descriptions below to get a better idea.
Walking holidays are challenging in that you have to walk a good chunk of the day, but I find them restful and restorative, even if my feet are tired at the end of the day. I feel a “good” kind of tired and sore (and frankly, proud of myself). I'm always excited to get up and hike the next morning!
How often do you have a chance to slow down and simply ponder???
What I like about a ‘Walking Holiday” is that you get to meet people from around the world each day. PLUS, because it is slow travel, you have the time to actually savor the views, villages and people you meet.
It's become my favorite way to travel (and it's usually pretty easy on the wallet, too!)
Absolute Best Ten Hiking Holidays in the UK : Affordable and Beautiful Walking Vacations
Coast to Coast : Average walk 15 days with moderate to strenuous difficulty rating. One of the world’s most popular hikes, walk east to west from St. Bees to Robin’s Hood Bay through rolling hills and mountains, quaint farmsteads and the brooding moors of North Yorkshire. Stay overnight in charming villages like the ever-popular Grasmere as you hike through the stunning English Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. At just under 200 miles (320 km), this exhilarating hike will challenge you and be worth every bead of sweat. March – September.
Cotswold Way : Average walk 9 days for about 100 miles (160km) with a moderate difficulty rating. Runs from delightful Chipping Camden to Bath. This path exemplifies what you think of when you imagine traditional British countryside with charming thatched roof cottages, country gardens, English pubs and picturesque landscape. Almost the entire trail is within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It meanders through enchanting villages before ending in the UNESCO world heritage city of Bath. If this hike is too long for you, consider doing either the north or south sections (see below). April – October
Cotswold Way – The North Section : Chipping Camden to Painswick Average walk 4 days with a moderate difficulty rating. Hike through quintessential English countryside on quiet lanes from Chipping Camden to Painswick through the delightful villages of Broadway, Stanton and Chipping Camden. You can end each invigorating day’s hike in a typical British pub. About 45 miles (70km) of ever dazzling sights of some of England’s best scenery. April – October.
Cotswold Way – The South Section : Painswick to Bath Average walk 5 days with a moderate difficulty rating. Considered to be some of England’s finest landscape, this enchanting hike from Painswick finishes in the UNESCO world heritage city of Bath. Stop for tea in some of the picturesque villages along the way. About 55 miles (90km) of spectacular scenery. April – October.
Thames Path from the Source to the Sea : Average walk 15 days for the roughly 185 mile (300 km) path from the source of the Thames River near Kemble through the stunning Cotswold area (see Cotswold Way above) all the way to the Thames Barrier in London. Starting in grasslands and woodlands, you reach the urban epicenter passing some of the UK’s most iconic landmarks, from Abingdon’s County Hall to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. Perhaps stay an extra day in Oxford or Dorchester. This path offers the spectrum from quaint country villages to historic London to get a full taste of Britain. Moderate with a few strenuous parts. If this walk is too long, consider doing one of the sections:
West Thames Path Section : Kemble to Pangbarne : Average walk 8 days for about 90 miles (140 km) through the Cotswold area. Pass through charming villages like Lechlade, Abingdon, Dorchester and Oxford as you watch the river slowly grow to navigable size. Moderate with a few strenuous parts. April – October
East Thames Path Section : Pangbarne to London (Thames Barrier) : Average walk 7 days for about 100 miles (160 km). You watch the scenery go from country grasslands and woodlands to more urban and industrial once you pass Windsor. After Teddington, you can explore the historic waterfront, switching your path between the North and South sides of the river, crossing as desired as you make your way to London. Moderate with a few strenuous parts. April – October
Hadrian’s Wall : Average walk 9 days for about 85 miles (135km) with a moderate difficulty rating. Combine history with your hiking holiday on this famous route from Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway alongside much of the remaining former Roman barrier – including Northern Europe’s largest surviving Roman monument (and a UNESCO world heritage site). You’ll see turrets and forts, and multiples of the milecastles (mini forts that were built about every mile along the barrier). Plenty of museums and Visitor’s Centers to quench your thirst for history. April-October.
South West Coast Path : Padstow to St. Ives : Average 5 days hiking with a moderate to strenuous difficulty rating. Walk south from irresistible Padstow along pristine sandy beaches or above furious ocean waves crashing to create caves against the cliffs on this Atlantic coast hike nestled between charming fishing villages and landscapes. Rest your tired feet during a break in a secluded cove en route to St. Ives, Cornwall’s most famous holiday town. Enjoy fresh caught fish nightly on this approximately 60 mile hike (100 km). March – October.
South West Coast Path : St. Ives to Penzance : Average 4 days hiking with a moderate to strenuous difficulty rating. Continue south on the South West Coast path along the sandy beaches and cliffs on this remote and rugged section of about 40 miles (65 km). Many opportunities to see wildlife, especially birds. Continue to Land’s End, Britain’s westernmost point. March – October.
Pennine Way : Edale to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border : Average 20 days hiking with a moderate to strenuous difficulty rating. Hike through stunning moors and through three national parks: the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland on the UK’s first national trail. Gorgeous rivers and waterfalls, such as High Force await you, as do Roman ruins when in historic Roman Hadrien’s Wall country. The breathtaking hills, dales and moorlands coupled with history make this one of the UK’s most endeared long distance trails. April – September.
St. Cuthbert’s Way : Melrose to Lindisfarne :Average 5 days walking with an easy to moderate difficulty rating. Perfect for history – especially religious history — lovers. This classic pilgrimage path leads to Holy Island through Northumberland and the Borders of Scotland along many places associated with the medieval St. Cuthbert. Take a self-reflecting walk of approximately 60 miles (100 km) through dramatic woodland, farmland, and moorlands along the way, and then finish by crossing the tidal causeway to the medieval monastery on Holy Island. April – September.
Great Glen Way : Average 6 days walking with an easy to moderate difficulty rating. Be on the lookout for the monster as you walk along the famous Loch Ness! This gentle path starts in engaging Fort William, base of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (worth a climb!) and wanders along moody lakes and panoramic moors, canals and forests of the Scottish Highlands on its way to Inverness. About 80 miles (130km). April – October.
West Highland Way : Average 7 days hiking with a moderate difficulty rating. The West Highland Way isn’t Scotland’s most popular long distance trail without reason: gorgeous Loch Lomond, scenic rivers, peaceful pastures, remote Ranooch Moor, plus quaint villages ensure a satisfying hike through the Highlands. The trail starts in Milngavie and finishes in Fort William, Scotland’s Outdoor Capital (you can continue your hike on the Great Glen Way (above)). About 100 miles (155km). March – October. [Click link for more details and to listen to the podcast on this path.]
Pembrokeshire Coast Path : Full length average 13-14 days hiking with a strenuous difficulty rating. Experienced hikers can take on the entire path; the rest can pick a section to walk along the cliffs of the western peninsula of Wales. Be on the lookout for comical puffins and leisurely seals as you hug this rugged coastline. Visit sleepy fishing villages and enjoy the catch of the day each night. Enjoy quiet seclusion with just the crash of the waves below disturbing your thoughts. This hike can be broken out into three sections if you don’t want to do the whole thing:
South section from Amroth to Pembroke (about 6 days moderate to strenuous difficulty rating and the most popular section), the Central section from Pembroke to St. Davids (about 6 days and a moderate to strenuous difficulty rating. Note that this section goes through some industrial areas), and the difficult and remote
North section from St. Davids to Dogmaels (about 5 days with a strenuous difficulty rating). About 185 miles total (300 km) with a couple of 20+ mile (32 km+) days and all days over 11 miles (18 km). March – October.
Multiple companies offer self-guided tours of these walks. They can book your accommodations, transfer your luggage each day, provide maps, an itinerary and offer emergency assistance. A great value!
Write me for tour company recommendations. Remember to allow a couple of days to get to/from walking start and end points, and for any rest days or special sightseeing days, Kit
To learn about more exciting multi-day adventure travel vacations such as these, bookmark www.ActiveTravelAdventures.com and listen to the Active Travel Adventures podcast for unbiased reviews of trips. Check out our ATA Facebook group for discussions about all sorts of adventure travel destinations.
P.S. I’m always on the lookout for exciting 4+ day active adventures to cover on the podcast. If you have any recommendations, or would like to be considered for an interview, please email me.
The UK's Ten Best Hiking Holidays by Kit Parks Adventure Traveler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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