Budget Walking Holidays In The UK

Budget Walking Holidays In The UK
By Simon Heptinstall

The UK’s tourist hotspots get very pricey very quickly, but venture away from the crowds and you’ll soon find plenty of spectacular spots for a cheaper walking holiday.

And, thankfully, cost-conscious walkers don’t need to lose out on the glorious British scenery: there are plenty of superb trails and walking locations slightly outside of the main regions that offer very affordable holidays in incredible landscapes.

With a little planning it’s fairly easy to push down the cost of a walking holiday. The biggest expense is likely to be accommodation so consider the lower cost spring and autumn shoulder seasons or, even better, try a winter walk which can be uncrowded and bracing!

Look for walker-oriented accommodations which, in addition to useful features such as mud rooms and abundant helpful advice, rarely offer the fancy bells and whistles most walkers don’t need. The UK also has a fantastic network of Youth Hostels (www.yha.org.uk), originally established to democratise access to the great outdoors.

If you’re setting out on a point-to-point walk you could try packing light to avoid using a baggage transfer service. Also look out for routes which start and finish at towns with train stations or public transport connections. Book your rail tickets well in advance for the best prices (www.nationalrail.co.uk).

You’ll find affordable walking holidays almost anywhere in the UK; the following recommendations tick most of the boxes.

Budget-friendly walking holiday destinations

Lincolnshire

Distance: Various day walks

Duration: Two days+

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Lincolnshire is an inexpensive area, so guesthouses, pubs and B&Bs offer a good choice of low-priced accommodation. The historic town of Stamford makes a great base, with a rail station and good road links. Walkers have a wide choice with the Jurassic Way, Hereward Way, Torpel Way and Macmillan Way all passing through. It’s an attractive town, once rated the best in England by the Sunday Times. The landscape is gentle and paths mostly easy. Local walking highlights include Rutland Water, Burghley House and the River Welland.

Budget Saint George church in Stamford England UK

Saint George church in picturesque Stamford, Lincolnshire

Llandrindod Wells

Distance: Various day walks

Duration: Two days+

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Budget-conscious walkers will appreciate the Victorian spa town of Llandrindod Wells in the Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales. With a wide range of well-priced accommodation from grand old hotels to B&Bs it makes a fine base for an affordable walking holiday. The town is out-of-the-way and rarely crowded but has a rail station on the Heart of Wales line and trunk road links to the M5. From here there are walks in all directions: on the Wye Valley Way, into the nearby Elan Valley and to any of the viewpoint hills that surround the town.

Budget Gilwern Hill near Llandrindod Wells in Powys Wales UK

Gilwern Hill near Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Wales

Ulverston

Distance: Various day walks

Duration: Two days+

Difficulty: Easy to hard

England’s Lake District is one of the world’s most popular walking destinations, making it expensive and too busy on occasions. A short way to the south it’s possible to plan affordable walking holidays centred around the less fashionable Furness peninsular, which is still within reach of many Lakeland spots. Ulverston is an historic market town linked to Morecambe Bay by a short canal. It has a rail station and an A-road link to the M6. Being slightly outside the National Park means accommodation is very affordable. The walks are excellent, ranging from the start of the 70-mile Cumbria Way heading north to easy strolls along the canal.

Budget Ulverston Lake District England UK

Ulverston makes a more affordable base from which to explore the Lake District

Affordable long-distance walks

South West Coast Path (Brixham to Lyme Regis)

Distance: 57 miles/92km

Duration: Four to six days

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Not all sections of this 630-mile trail are equal, some have pricier accommodation and less public transport. Budget-conscious walkers could choose the section from Brixham to Lyme Regis to take advantage of off-peak B&B and guesthouse prices in the south coast resorts. It looks built-up on the map but don’t be deterred: the path itself is particularly scenic through much of Torbay and along the East Devon coast. This is some of England’s finest coastal landscapes. Lyme Bay is often sheltered from prevailing winds whatever the season and there is plenty of public transport as far as Exmouth. Sadly, there is little between Exmouth and Lyme Regis. Walkers using public transport may need to add an extra five-mile hike to Axminster station at the end.

Budget Lyme Regis and Lyme Bay with the Dorset coast including the Golden Cap on the background West Dorset England UK

Lyme Regis, on the glorious Dorset coastline

Wales Coast Path (Aberystwyth to Porthmadog)

Distance: 72 miles

Duration: Six to eight days

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

This section of the 861-mile Wales Coast Path offers some fantastic walking scenery with the chance to find plenty of affordable accommodation in out-of-season seaside resorts. It also offers the support of rail links for most of the route, including the start and finish points. Highlights will include Portmeirion, Harlech Castle and Mawddach Estuary at Barmouth.

Budget Portmeirion with its Italian village style architecture in Gwynedd North Wales UK

Quirky Portmeirion, with its Italian-inspired architecture, in north Wales

Trans Pennine Trail (Broadbottom to Bolton upon Dearne)

Distance: 34 miles/55km

Duration: Two to four days

Difficulty: Moderate

This 215-mile coast-to-coast trail has sections that are well suited for cost-conscious walking holidays. Generally food and accommodation in northern England is cheaper than the south and there are few tourist honeypots to inflate the prices on this route. A rewarding short trek would be from the old Pennine village of Broadbottom on the outskirts of Manchester across the Peak District National Park to the West Yorkshire village of Bolton upon Dearne. Both villages have railway stations.

Woodhead Pass in Derbyshire peak district england uk

Woodhead Reservoir, in the Peak District's less popular but still stunning northern reaches

Budget 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.

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