As walking holidays gain popularity, we discover, the UK has some of the most beautiful walking routes in the world.
We’ve put together some of the UK’s best self-guided walking routes to help you start planning your next walking holiday.
Why Take a Self Guided Walking Holiday
Set Your Own Pace and Itinerary
From a stroll along serene country paths to challenging passes in the mountains. The beauty of a self-guided walking holiday is tailoring it to whatever style of walking holiday you like. You are the tour leader – you set your pace and decide what you want to see and where you want to go.
There are many well-established routes all over the United Kingdom, each one graded to suit the level of fitness of the individual and hiking experience.
An Independent Experience With Full Support
Some people, especially avid hikers, prefer an entirely independent hiking vacation experience. On the other hand, a self-guided walking tour is for those who still want an independent experience without the hassle of worrying about luggage, accommodation, and transport.
A self-guided walking holiday in the UK enables you to create a detailed itinerary with prearranged accommodation and support along any walking route you choose.
While you decide the pace – enjoying the scenery along your chosen route, all the other details of your luggage and accommodation are being taken care of for you. Each evening along the walking route, you will reach your prearranged hotel where your luggage will be waiting for you in your room. It is these details which make planning and taking a walking holiday a less daunting experience for the average traveller.
The UK’s Best Self Guided Walking Holidays
With the number of established routes, the UK is a true walking holiday mecca. We have taken some of the guesswork out with this hand-picked selection of walking routes.
These routes are of special interest as walkers can follow trails made famous by writers, trace the history of fierce Roman battles, or seek out the rich diversity of landscapes.
Hadrian’s Wall, England (84 Miles |4-10 days)
The remarkable Hadrian’s Wall was built as a historic frontier under the reign of Emperor Hadrian in AD 122. The wall ran from Tyne to Solway Firth punctuated with guard posts creating an impenetrable barrier. Today, the entire 84-mile wall path is one of the most popular long walks in Britain.
The Hadrian’s Wall walking route which runs East to West can be walked in either direction, depending on your travel itinerary. However, many prefer to start in the west following the course of the prevailing wind.
The central section, which is the best maintained, is the most preferred route of hikers, as it also allows you to explore the Roman forts of Vindolanda and Housesteads.
Great Glen Way, Scotland (79 Miles | 5-7 days)
The 79 mile Great Glen Way walk, which is easily traversed in a week is one of the most leisurely walks in Scotland. It also starts in what many consider the outdoor capital of the UK – Fort William. With so much to do in Fort William, you may want to plan your arrival a few days before the start of the walk.
Starting in Fort William and finishing in Inverness, The Great Glen Way takes walkers along the low-lying trail that stretches alongside the Caledonian Canal where it links Loch Lochy with Loch Oich and the infamous Loch Ness.
Starting at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, hiking towards the northeast, you will pass castles and forts integral to the story of Scotland’s turbulent history finishing in the capital of the Highlands – Inverness. See more great itineraries for hiking in Scotland here or extend your Scottish itinerary with these amazing places to visit in Scotland.
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Cleveland Way, England (109 Miles | 5-10 days)
A designated National Trail marked by a white acorn symbol, Cleveland Way promises a beautiful self-guided walking holiday in the northeast of England. Commencing in Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, the walk is roughly 109 miles long finishing on the east coast in Filey.
The trail is divided into two distinct landscapes – inland and coastal. The route passes through farms, woods, dramatic coastlines with some of the highest sea cliffs in the country, and the famous North Yorkshire Moors.
Though challenging in parts, the Cleveland Way walk is suitable for any walker who is reasonably fit. The trail can be undertaken at any time of year, although the months between March and October are particularly good.
Pennine Way, England (260 Miles | 3-20 days)
Extremely long and equally dramatic, the 260 mile Pennine Way walk, begins at Pennine Range and ends at just inside the Scottish border at Kirk Yetholm.
It traverses three National Parks, one in the rugged Peak District, the second in the Yorkshire Dales and finally, the third in Northumberland. The Pennine Way dates back to the 1960s when it was designated as the country’s first National Trail.
While a few diehard enthusiasts complete the entire route, there is a vast range of itinerary options from the south, central or north sections. Perfect for those who only want to sample the outstanding landscapes on Britain’s first and best-known National Trail.
Cotswolds Way, England and Wales (102 Miles | 4-13 days)
Starting from the town of Chipping Campden in the north, to the heritage-rich city of Bath in the south, the Cotswold Way is steeped in history along the entire length.
A large number of historical sites can be visited along the route including neolithic tombs, churches and hill forts. Crickley Hill Fort dates back to 4000BC. The 102-mile walk can be completed in sections or in full from either direction.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales(186 Miles | 5-16 days)
Traversing some of the most amazing landscapes from Amroth to St.Dogmaels, the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path, along the Wales coast is a hikers delight.
The route passes through clean and pristine sandy beaches, quaint fishing villages, offshore islands and flooded valleys of limestone known for the spectre of blooming lilies in June. Nature buffs will be rewarded with a variety of animals, reptiles and birds.
In the middle of the route lies St David’s. No bigger than a tiny village it is said to be the smallest city in Britain. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path can be done as a whole or in two parts. St Davids serves as an ideal starting base for the northern section or the finish for the southern section.
The UK is a fantastic destination for self-guided walking holidays and the most flexible way to explore the countryside the region is famous for.