You may think you know the UK but there are plenty of surprises yet to be found and a walking holiday is the best way to do it.

Wherever you live, don’t let the cosy familiarity of the UK’s cultural icons and famous landmarks deter you from exploring the rest of the country – ideally by foot!

These four nations are densely packed with variety. Away from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, there are an enormous number of sights that most people, locals and visitors alike, have never heard of. And there's no better way to see it all than on a walking holiday, following the countless miles of footpaths through landscapes that are always rich in tradition, varied in scenery and full of history.

Here's our essential guide to the best walking holidays in the UK. Happy rambling!

UK Lochranza on the Isle of Arran

Lochranza, on the Scottish Isle of Arran

The UK's best walking holidays

The country's top walking destinations & routes

Wherever you find yourself you'll never be far from a public footpath of some sort and, once outside of the urban sprawls, almost any patch of countryside makes for a pleasant stroll. But for a truly special trip, here are a handful of the UK's top-rated walking holiday regions.

Scotland West Highland Way 2

Following the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William

The Highlands

Best for: mountains & wilderness walking holidays

This vast, sparsely populated area is the closest thing to true wilderness in the UK and is a justifiably popular region for serious hikers and casual walkers alike. There are plenty of waymarked long-distance routes, along with some excellent places to base yourself for a centre-based walking holiday.

Best walking holidays:

The Great Glen Way: 78 miles from Fort William to Inverness, over five to seven days. Suitable for all levels, and supported by abundant accommodation and organised walking holiday companies.

Cairngorms National Park: The largest national park in the United Kingdom, with several long-distance routes (65-mile Speyside Way the 64-mile Cateran Trail) but also a great place to base yourself for a centre-based walking holiday.

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park: Bordering Scotland's populated Central Belt, the Trossachs is a great spot for an accessible but varied walking holiday.

Jacobs ladder kinder scout peak district england uk

'Jacob's Ladder' – the ascent to Kinder Scout, in the Peak District

The Peak District National Park

Best for: short and picturesque walking holidays

The Peak District is the UK's first national park, established in 1951 to carve out a protected space between the encroaching industrial cities of the midlands and northern England. The national park and the UK's 'right to roam' laws owe their existence to the struggles of ordinary working people who, in the 1932 Kinder Trespass, forced private landowners to grant public access to the nation's beautiful but previously restricted countryside.

Divided by a geological fault line between the gritstone 'Dark Peak' and the limestone 'White Peak', the landscape switches from open, even severe-looking, moorland to the north and secluded dales and quaint farming villages to the south.

Its proximity to motorways and several major cities means the Peak District gets busy in places, particularly around pleasant but popular honeytraps such as Dovedale, Castleton and Matlock. But with nearly 2,000 miles of public footpaths and rights of way, it's still very easy to find yourself alone and enjoying empty trails and wide open views. The Dark Peak is generally quieter, as is the far south on the border with Staffordshire.

Best walking holidays:

Edale & Kinder Scout: Base yourself in Edale, Castelton or Hope for easy access to the famed Kinder Scout and surrounding area. You can spend three or four days in the area, good day walks include the climb up to Kinder Scout (check conditions, it can get treacherous up there) and the popular ridge walk from Castleton to Lose Hill via Mam Tor.

Lathkill Dale: Base yourself in Bakewell, Monyash or Over Haddon for access to the stunning and historical Lathkill Dale, which you can follow all the way to Youlgreave and beyond.

The Pennine Way: The 251-mile waymarked route begins in Edale and runs north all the way to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. Can be booked as an organised self-guided or guided walking holiday, most commonly broken up into shorter segments. Read more: The UK's best long distance walks.

Peak District Boundary Walk: Roughly 190 miles following the boundary of the entire national park. Can be booked as an organised self-guided walking holiday, 11 to 16 nights in total but can be broken up into segments.

UK Northumberland Lindisfarne Holy Island

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, on the Northumberland Coast Path


Best for: remote hills and desolate castles

There’s a large area between the Tyne and the Scottish border that is little troubled by tourists but full of walking possibilities. It’s not a widely marketed destination for inn-to-inn walking holidays and luggage transfer services may be patchy.

In fact England’s least populated countryside includes no cites and few towns, so expect to have to plan inn-to-inn holiday routes carefully around limited accommodation and transport links. Much easier is a centre-based walking trip, either based on the coast or in the Cheviots.

Best walking holidays:

The craggy Cheviot hills in Northumbria National Park offer some of the quietest and most remote walking in England. St Cuthbert's Way cuts through here en route to Scotland, and the Northumberland Coast Path follows the county's historic and extremely scenic coastline.

Landscape of Horsey windmill on the Norfolk Broads england uk

Horsey Windmill on the Norfolk Broads

East Anglia & Norfolk Broads

Best for: gentle and flat walking holidays

Hillwalkers look away now. This is Britain’s flattest region with pancake landscapes stretching to the hazy horizon in all directions. Walkers will be able to explore easy flat paths through gorgeous examples of rural lowland England, with frequent pastoral scenes looking like Constable paintings.

Expect a good transport network but plan accommodation ahead because in rural parts options can be limited whether you are travelling inn-to-inn or based in one spot.

Best walking holidays:

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some delightful walking and the regional highlights, the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, and the Norfolk Broads National Park, are a great place to base yourself for a centre-based walking holiday.

Way-marked, full-supported long distance trails include the 228-mile triangle formed by Peddars Way, Norfolk Coast Path, and the Angles Way while other less well-known routes celebrate local historical figures as divergent as Boudicca, Nelson and Hereward the Wake.

UK Gunnerside Swaledale Yorkshire England

Classic Yorkshire countryside in Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales National Park


Best for: long distance walking holidays

England’s biggest county includes the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and a big chunk of the Peak District National Park, a Heritage Coast and dozens of outstanding natural areas. For walkers, its offerings range from challenging hill trails to more relaxed lowland hikes.

Best walking holidays:

Most routes include some rugged moorland stretches and Yorkshire’s long distance trails include tough options like the Dales Top Ten, a 77-mile trek round the ten highest hills in the Dales or the Pennine Way, a 251-mile iconic trail along the mountainous spine of the country.

There is a good choice of guided walking holidays along waymarked long distance trails, or centre-based stays in any of the national parks. The availability of accommodation varies greatly between areas but all styles of walking holiday are possible, with choices like the Inn Way trails linking country pubs or circular centre-based routes skirting Barnsley, Sheffield and Hawes in the Dales.

UK Isle of Wight coastpath

Sea views from the Isle of Wight coastpath

The Isle of Wight

Best for: glorious coastal walking holidays

With a varied and fascinating coastline of 60 miles, the Isle of Wight is bigger than many outsiders expect. Safe, quiet and untroubled by mountains or wilderness areas, it has become one of England’s most popular walking destinations. There are no motorways or cities to avoid, instead expect peaceful, pretty landscapes, yachting harbours and wooded estuaries, old-fashioned seaside towns and rolling downland.

Best walking holidays:

The 70-mile Isle of Wight coast path is a highlight but other routes criss-cross the island. Yarmouth, Cowes and Ventnor can serve as attractive centres for walking holidays too.

UK Hollerday Hill of the Valley Of The Rocks in Exmoor National Park

Valley of Rocks, on the Exmoor coastline

The Southwest

Best for: scenic inn-to-inn walking holidays

England’s southwestern peninsular of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire has the mildest climate and a varied coastline, which explains why it’s the UK’s most popular holiday area.

Across the southwest walkers will find some serious wild moorland areas and a few cities, but generally the landscape comprises rolling farmland that’s never far from the sea.

Expect crowds at holiday times but the positive side of the area’s popularity is a huge choice of accommodation that means inn-to-inn walks are an easy option. Organised self-guided walks are commonplace, with several specialist operators to choose from.

Best walking holidays:

The 630-mile Southwest Coast Path encompasses it all but there are hundreds of others, from the 600-miles of trails in Exmoor National Park to circular day-walks like the National Trust routes around Cheddar Gorge or Stonehenge. They range in quality too: from sign-posted long distance national trails with luggage support and frequent refreshments to rugged lonely muddy tracks across Dartmoor where a compass is advisable.

UK England Lake District Buttermere surrounded by green hill in Englands Lake District

Buttermere, in the Lake District

The Lake District

Best for: hill walking holidays

Perhaps the most famous walking region in the UK, the Lake District offers a chance to wander lonely as a cloud amid impressive landscapes of mountains and water.

The choices for walkers range from England’s most serious climbing routes to gentle lakeside circuits. The two main hazards to consider are that the main roads and towns get very busy with day trippers and tour buses in the summer months, while the fells include challenging terrain to be taken very seriously.

Across the Lakes the transport network can be a limiting factor. Roads are narrow and sometimes jammed. Nevertheless there is a huge range of places to stay, from farm B&Bs and hostels to luxury hotels and suiting either inn-to-inn or centre-based walking holidays.

Wainwright who?

Prolific mountain walker, author and illustrator Alfred Wainwright was the father figure of Lakeland walking. His 60-year-old guides to the fells are still definitive volumes for walking in the Lakes and he was instrumental in establishing the popular Coast-to-Coast route from the Irish Sea at St Bees to the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay.

Best walking holidays:

There are world-class scenes to discover here whether Wainwright bagging or pottering in the footsteps of poets. Classic long distance trails include the 93-mile Tour of the Lakes circuit and the start of the Coast-to-Coast and Hadrian’s Wall routes - but there are hundreds of smaller less celebrated paths including classics like Striding Edge or Borrowdale.

The former will be way-marked and popular with walking holiday companies. Luggage support should be readily available. The latter fall into the category of mountain walking and you may require more self-sufficiency regarding navigation and luggage.

Boat houses near St Davids Pembrokeshire

Boat houses near St Davids on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

South Wales

Best for: quiet country walks

Don’t let an industrial heritage and string of dour coastal cities deter you from exploring this undervalued and less visited walking region. In fact you’ll discover that most of the southern half of Wales is rural, with the Brecon Beacons National Park providing southern Britain’s highest peaks, some impressive coastal walking further west and large areas of pristine countryside to explore.

Best walking holidays:

Long distance walkers have a lot of choices of well-maintained and supported routes, including the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path, part of the massive 870-mile Wales Coast Path or scenic walks through the Black Mountains that form the southern section of the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke Path along the Welsh-English border.

UK Wales Dolbadarn Castle at Llanberis in Snowdonia National Park in Wales

Dolbadarn Castle in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

North Wales

Best for: rugged walking holidays

Many long distance trails span the two halves of this nation and if you completed them you’d find the north generally has a rawer, grittier nature.

With the added attraction of Snowdonia’s mountain landscape and the remote rolling moorland of the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales, this is an area with rich pickings for walkers. All of Wales, like the rest of the UK, offers extremely varied landscapes and walking conditions.

Research your routes in detail because some will have plentiful facilities on hand, luggage transfers and be an easy way-marked ramble—others will have scant infrastructure and may be a serious hiking challenge.

Best walking holidays:

Choices range from major trails like Snowdonia’s 97-mile Eyri Way to day routes visiting Wales’ highest waterfall, Swallow Falls. Try walking around Anglesey, explore the Mawddach Estuary or discover the new Pilgrim’s Way (135 miles) that links ancient churches, crosses and stone circles across the North.

England South Downs Way 1

Chalk cliffs on the South Downs Way

The Southeast

Best for: accessible & easy-going walking holidays

You won’t find wilderness areas along the south coast between Kent’s ‘Garden of England’ and Poole Harbour. Instead walkers enjoy safe and generally easy, well-maintained paths with excellent infrastructure and access.

Expect a mix of coast and well-manicured countryside with long stretches of chalk downland between the two. Most walks include pretty river valleys and rolling farmland with a scattering of affluent villages and towns serving London commuters or escapees.

Accommodation and transport options are plentiful and varied, making the southeast suitable for most types of walking holidays.

Best walking holidays:

Major walks include the South Downs Way and the 1066 Country Walk while smaller routes involve the region’s landscape highlights like the Seven Sisters, Devil’s Dyke, Leith Hill, Beachy Head or the White Cliffs of Dover.

UK Cotswolds Castle Combe England

Castle Combe, a classic Cotswolds village

The Cotswolds

Best for: classic English countryside walking holidays

For a glimpse of classic English limestone countryside with rolling hills, leafy vales, dry stone walls and pretty, if sometimes twee, villages, try some of the paths criss-crossing the Cotswold region. Footpaths are generally good quality, waymarked and well maintained, and the en-route facilities are good.

The region suits either point-to-point trails or centre-based walkers. Walkers may find the honey-pot villages too busy with day-trippers at peak times but the comprehensive network of footpaths makes it easy to escape the crowds that rarely go beyond the teashops and car parks. Avoid the tour-bus problem altogether by sticking to the picturesque fringes of the region, like Warwickshire and South Gloucestershire.

Expect accommodation generally on the pricey but exquisite side. Gentrified gastro-pubs are plentiful, but you’ll need to search hard for traditional ‘working village’ pubs.

Best walking holidays:

The Cotswolds are hilly but never hardcore. Examples of routes range between the 100-mile Cotswold Way from Bath to Chipping Campden, to small circuits like the craggy summit of Cleeve Hill, the Cotswolds’ highest point, or the around idyllic villages like Bibury.

Short walks Mourne Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland UK

Slieve Binnian, in the Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains

Best for: blissfully uncrowded walking holidays

Northern Ireland is a fantastic place to escape the UK's more crowded walking destinations. With stunning mountains, coast and moorland, it offers as much for the keen hiker as Scotland, Wales or the more rugged corners of England, just with a fraction of the visitor numbers.

The Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland's highest hills, are a firm favourite with excellent trails that skirt granite-topped peaks and rolling foothills.

Taxis are geared up for walkers with baggage transfer services available, but most people come here for centre-based walking holidays tackling a new day hike each morning.

Planning a UK walking holiday

The United Kingdom is a walker's paradise: Hundreds of thousands of miles of well-mapped public footpaths, beautifully varied landscapes, excellent hospitality, and easily accessible. It’s no wonder this is a nation of walkers.

From the Scottish Highlands to the South Downs and almost everywhere in between, walker-friendly accommodation, well organised baggage transfer services and convenient transport connections make organising walking trips a piece of cake.

And don’t forget the British USP: almost every day of walking can be rounded off in that most unique and ancient of British institutions: the village pub, a welcoming place to rest, drink, usually eat, often stay and always experience an easy way to meet the locals.

The only thing you need to know is decide where to go, and how to do it. We’ve got you covered on both counts. Read on for our in-depth guide to planning a walking trip in the UK.

Self-guided vs guided walking

There are three broad categories of walking holidays: Fully independent, an organised but self-guided holiday, or an escorted tour, typically with a guide and a group of other walkers.

Each has its own merits. Which you plump for depends partly on your physical ability and your budget, but generally speaking it’s a question of convenience versus freedom.

Fully independent

This is typically the preserve of dedicated trekkers in the more remote wilderness areas where accommodation and services are few and far between.

Some take this to the extreme by being almost completely self-sufficient, carrying a tent and cooking equipment with them and pitching up at whatever quiet camping spot they find each evening. (Wild camping is generally prohibited in England and Wales, but is permissible—within limits—in Scotland.) Others will use B&Bs as they go, but carry everything they need for the entire trip, perhaps altering their route as they go.

It’s difficult to quantify the sense of freedom you have when you set off on a walk from A to B, carrying everything you might need along the way and navigating yourself the entire way. It’s also usually the cheapest way to go, but the main advantage is that you don’t have to tie yourself down to a rigid schedule. Instead, you can go with the flow, walking as fast or slow as you prefer and stopping wherever and whenever you like. And unless you’re hiking a very remote mountainous area in, say, the Scottish Highlands, navigation is rarely a major problem.

Most walking trails in Britain are well marked, particularly the National Trails and the coastal paths, and they are usually covered by a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guidebook, or at very least a mapping series. Top tip: Invest in a walking guide. It’ll be the best £10 you spend on your trip.

Recommended guidebooks

The information on the following pages is intended to help you decide what, when and where your next walking holiday should be. Once you've booked your trip it's wise to invest in a detailed, location-specific walking guidebook. There are lots on the market, the following are particularly recommended:

Cicerone Guides ( are the best-known source of up-to-date walking guides, with a range of around 350 practical, pocket-sized books and around 30 new editions a year. Expect to pay between £9 and £16 for a guide.

Trailblazer guides ( are highly recommended by walkers and travel writers alike with a level of detail and usability that is second to none, and large-scale maps that are drawn from scratch.

Look out too for Poucher’s Guides, published by Frances Lincoln and highly rated by walkers. They’re hard to find today other than secondhand from online sources. Other good titles are Crimson Publishing’s Pathfinder Guides or the Inn Way Series.

Organised/self-guided walking holidays

For most walkers, carrying all the gear you need for a multi-day trip just isn’t feasible, but going on an escorted or fully guided tour also doesn’t appeal. Fortunately, there are plenty of specialist walking holiday companies that will tailor an itinerary to your level, book your nightly accommodation and transport your luggage from one guesthouse to the next as you complete your walk. This is by far the most common and popular mode of walking holiday in the UK.

There are some restrictions (they can’t always deliver to campsites, for example, nor to very remote hostels), and you’ll be tied to a pre-set itinerary of course, but this option does leave you with the freedom of walking on your own, without having the physical burden of anything more than a light daypack.

A slightly more DIY variation on the organised self-guided walking holiday is to pre-book each night’s accommodation yourself and organise your own baggage transfer from inn to inn. Walker-oriented B&Bs may offer a baggage transfer service via local taxi companies or, in the more popular walking areas, you’ll find standalone baggage transfer services. When all’s said and done the cost saving between this and booking an organised holiday won’t be significant, and the convenience and reassurance of using a specialist walking holiday company usually outweighs any benefits of doing it all yourself.

Escorted/group walking tours

For those who don’t trust their navigational skills or just prefer to walk with others, escorted tours offer fully supported group walks with an experienced guide. This also removes the hassle of having to plan your trip—a nice feeling when you’re on a holiday. Trips usually include accommodation, transport arrangements, baggage transfer, minibus back-up and, of course, a guide.

The downside is that you won’t be able to stop where and when you want, to take that afternoon snooze on a sunny riverbank, to spend an extra few minutes lining up that perfect selfie, or to take an extra rest day in an idyllic fishing village you discover you have a soft spot for. Taking a guided tour also makes your walking holiday significantly more expensive.

The UK By Foot

Walking holidays in the UK

The United Kingdom must be one of the easiest places on earth to explore by foot. Compact, well-connected and criss-crossed by hundreds of thousands of miles of footpaths and public rights of way; just find one of those familiar yellow and green arrows, and off you go.

Get the guide

Point-to-point vs centre-based trips

Classic point-to-point (sometimes marketed as ‘inn-to-inn’) walking trips follow a single route for the duration of your holiday. This allows walkers to tackle long distance trails and enter into the purposeful mindset of accomplishing a single, longer journey with a rewarding sense of completion at the end.

The downsides are of course a lot of planning for changing accommodation and refreshment on a daily basis. It may mean organising a luggage transfer service, either formally with a specialist company, via taxi, or through your accommodation. You’ll never be settled and feel at home in one place and may be forced to walk to the next accommodation whatever the weather or state of your legs.

Centre-based walking holidays are a more relaxed option, although if your centre is Llanberis in Snowdonia or Windermere in the Lakes you could be in for a very challenging series of day walks. The choice of home base becomes more important if you are spending every night of the holiday there.

If your holiday is more than a couple of days your walks from the same base are likely to involve some repetition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the scenery is truly great. You will never get the same smug feeling of completion at the end of a two-week hike but balance that with the compensation of being able to do something different whenever you fancy or find a short cut back to your accommodation if it starts raining. You can adapt to the weather and your energy levels in a way that point-to-point walkers can’t.

Muddying the waters further is the option of dual (or more) centre trips. There’s nothing stopping you spending several days in one place and then moving on to the next. A specialist walking holiday company can create a suitable itinerary.

How much does a walking holiday cost?

Costs vary depending on your chosen flavour of trip and can fluctuate significantly by location. Prices are generally higher the further south you go, but also spike in tourist hotspots like the Lake District and the Cotswolds. Solo travellers will often pay more for accommodation than a couple would pay per person.

Fully independent

(per person)

Accommodation (B&B/walking inns): £50 - £100 per night

Evening meals (in pubs/hotel restaurants): £15 - £20 per day

Baggage transfer, if applicable: around £10 per day per bag

Extras (lunch, snacks, entrance tickets): £5 - £20 per day

Self-guided walking holidays

Between £80 and £150 per person per day, depending on the location. Typically includes accommodation, breakfasts, bag transfers and all other logistics.

Escorted/group walking holidays

One week escorted tour: depending on standard of accommodation, from £700 to £1,000 (including accommodation & breakfast, but no other meals)

Meals: £120-£200

When to go walking in the UK

The UK has a temperate-maritime climate which brings cold, wet winters and warm(er) but also often wet summers. Surrounded by sea, the country has changeable weather that can vary within short distances and timescales. There can be fine bright walking days at any time of the year, but they can just as quickly turn into wet and windy afternoons!

Summer is almost never too hot to walk but winters can bring snow, particularly in Scotland and on high ground in Wales and northern England.

Overall the north is on average four or five degrees cooler and wetter. The southwest and Wales are mildest but due to prevailing winds from the Atlantic get more rain than eastern areas.

Generally the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn offer the best balance of smaller crowds and more agreeable weather.

Aside from the more remote stretches of the Scottish Highlands, you won’t find any genuine wilderness in the UK. But conditions can still turn treacherous even when you’re relatively close to civilisation. Regardless of the month, sensible preparation and packing all-weather gear is essential.

UK walking resources

Maps, walking guides, apps and other trip planning resources for UK walking holidays.

Walking maps

Ordnance Survey: The gold standard of maps and a national treasure. (

Harvey Maps: Specialist walking maps in a variety of scales. (

Walking guides

Cicerone Guides (

Pathfinder Guides (

Inn Way Guides (

UK walking sites

UK National Trail website (

National Trust walks (

Long Distance Walkers Association (

Met Office mountain weather forecast (

GPS Routes (

Country-specific walking sites

Walk Highlands (

Walk NI (

Visit Wales (

Visit England (

In this guide:

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Simon Heptinstall

Former Top Gear writer Simon Heptinstall has slowed down a bit recently and now much prefers walking. His hikes have taken him as far as Svalbard, the Falklands and Budleigh Salterton. Find his travel writing everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to the Daily Mail.

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Kerry Walker

Based in the mountains of Mid Wales, Kerry Walker is an award-winning British travel writer, author, photographer, translator and co-founder of Undiscovered Wales. She is also lover of mountains, cold places and true wilderness.

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Taylor St. John

Taylor is a freelance travel journalist based between Glasgow and the east coast of the U.S. She writes for publications like HuffPost UK, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Country Walking, easyJet Traveller and

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Daniel McCrohan

Daniel is a prolific guidebook writer who divides his time between exploring Asia for Lonely Planet and Britain for Trailblazer. As well as writing close to 50 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, he has worked on more than a dozen Trailblazer walking guides, and has hiked and camped his way across many parts of the UK, China, Mongolia and India.

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Belinda Dixon

Belinda Dixon has researched Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland guidebooks for Lonely Planet and produces podcasts for Ordnance Survey (OS). She has led wilderness expeditions to the Indian Himalaya, Iceland and the Canadian Yukon with the youth development charity, British Exploring.

The Best Walking Holidays In The UK

Fergal MacErlean

Dublin-born Fergal fell in love with Scotland as a student, settling there to become a journalist and cycle guidebook writer. In addition to his guides covering Scotland, he has written for the BBC, New Scientist, BBC Countryfile Magazine and many travel publications. Andalusia is a second home.

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