The Best Short Walking Breaks In The UK

The Best Short Walking Breaks In The UK
By Simon Heptinstall

The UK’s long-distance paths might hog all the limelight but not everyone has two weeks spare (or the legs, for that matter!) Fortunately there’s a near inexhaustible number of locations and routes for shorter walking breaks, ideally suited for a more relaxed two- or three-day walking holiday.

Most long-distance paths can be split into shorter, more manageable sections and towns and villages across the land lend themselves to a long weekend of easy-going day walks.

Here are eight of our favourite shorter UK walking breaks.

Short walking holidays in the UK

The Smugglers Way

Distance: 36 miles/58km

Duration: Two to three days

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

From Boscastle on the north coast to Looe in the south, this coast-to-coast route climbs across the rugged heart of Cornwall. It’s a chance to discover a different side of this popular county, with some fairly wild sections across Bodmin Moor. The reward is discovering valleys, farms and villages way off the tourist map. Memorable sections include arriving at the remote smugglers’ pub Jamaica Inn or scaling the rocky peak of Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest point (1378ft/420m).

Jamaica Inn Cornwall UK

Stop for a pint at the famous Jamaica Inn on the Smugglers' Way

The Hardy Way

Distance: 23 miles/37km

Duration: Two days

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The rolling Dorset countryside is little changed since it inspired Thomas Hardy’s novels. The route explores the woods, valleys and farmland between Shaftesbury and Cranborne, with a mid-point overnight stop at the leafy village of Farnham. This selected part of the longer Hardy Way crosses the former Royal hunting ground of Cranborne Chase and chalk downland of Wessex. There’s a choice of fine country pubs for accommodation and refreshments.

Rolling hills of Cranborne Chase in Dorset UK

Classic rolling views on Cranborne Chase, Dorset

The Mourne Wall Walk

Distance: 22 miles/35km

Duration: Two days

Difficulty: Hard

The Mourne Mountains of County Down in Northern Ireland provide a very challenging two-day circular trek that’s well-known among locals. Walkers follow a 100-year-old stone wall that crosses 15 of the highest peaks; so you won’t get lost but you will get tired. There are no facilities at all, you must carry tents. Great views and a a breathless sense of satisfaction are the rewards.

Short walks Mourne Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland UK

Northern Ireland's dramatic Mourne Mountains

Forth & Clyde Walkway

Distance: 35 miles/56km

Duration: Three days

Difficulty: Easy

Recently renovated, this towpath route is now a well supported way to explore a tranquil green coast-to-coast strip through central Scotland, from the Clyde to Edinburgh Quay. Spot plenty of landmarks from the Industrial Revolution although the highlights are more modern: the Falkirk Wheel, an ingenious turntable for narrowboats, and the Kelpies, two stunning giant horse head sculptures.

Short walks Forth Clyde Walkway falkirk wheel scotland uk

The famous Falkirk Wheel narrowboat bridge

Glyndwr Way (Llandidloes to Machynlleth)

Distance: 27 miles/43 km

Duration: Two days

Difficulty: Moderate

This most spectacular section of this acclaimed long distance trail starts by discovering Llyn Clywedog reservoir and the UK’s tallest dam. It then leads into the green peaks and valleys of the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales before descending to the fascinating alternative technology centre of Machynlleth. Limited mid-way accommodation ranges from bunkhouses to hotels – it’s best to book.

Short walks Glyndwr way Llyn Clywedog reservoir near Llanidloes in Wales UK

Llyn Clywedog reservoir near Llanidloes, Wales

The Wye Valley Walk (Chepstow to Ross-on-Wye)

Distance: 34 miles/54km

Duration: Two/three days

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

This glorious first section of the Wye Valley Walk takes walkers past the romantic landmarks of Tintern Abbey and picturesque village of Symonds Yat. The route follows the leafy river along the Wales-England border and is waymarked by a leaping salmon logo. Other highlights include Chepstow Castle, the Wye Gorge and the grand country town of Monmouth, a perfect mid-point for an overnight stay.

Short walks Wye Valley from Symonds Yat Rock UK

Impressive views of the Wye Valley from Symonds Yat Rock

Fort William

Distance: Various

Duration: Two to three days

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

The loch side Highland town of Fort William makes a perfect base for a few days walking with a huge variety of dramatic routes on the doorstep. These range from a day tackling the UK’s highest summit Ben Nevis to easy canal towpath hikes. In fact the town has become an adventure holiday centre, thanks to rivers, lochs, mountains and glens in all directions. It can get busy but has plenty of accommodation, bars and outdoor outfitters.

Ben Nevis Scotland UK

The view up to Ben Nevis mount, the highest peak in the UK

The Peak District loop

Distance: 18 miles/29km

Duration: Two days

Difficulty: Moderate

One of the National Trust’s excellent two-day national park walking routes, this route starts at Edale Station, climbs the infamous Kinder Scout plateau, stops for the night in Castleton and ends at Hope Station. It uses good paths to cross moorland hills and rocky outcrops to the start of the Pennines. Expect company on busy holidays, especially in the pretty stone villages. Castleton is gorgeous but popular, so book ahead.

Read more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Kinder Downfall Derbyshire Peak District England UK

The view from Kinder Downfall in the Peak District National Park

The Best Short Walking Breaks 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.

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...