Many of us like to hop on a plane and fly to far away exotic shores for our summer holidays. Yet with the staycation becoming increasingly popular, and the great outdoors being embraced by more people than usual, it’s time to shine the spotlight on some of the incredible places the UK has to offer.
You don’t have to travel long distances to feel like you’re a world away from home, and experiencing the unique landscapes around the British Isles is a real treat for nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys fresh air and stunning views.
Lots of holidaymakers are choosing walking holidays in the UK with companies like Inntravel as a way to explore out-of-the way places in rural areas. Hiking is one of the best forms of exercise, so including some scenic trails on your travels is a no-brainer. This type of holiday is what slow travel is all about, and to have the time to really take in your surroundings without feeling the pressure to rush off to the next spot on your itinerary, is a really special feeling.
So, if you like a bit of a ramble and want to explore some of the hiking routes around the UK, check out this guide to work out which area you might prefer. Whether you fancy ambling beside the sea in Norfolk or following in the footsteps of kings in Scotland, there is something here for you.
The Scottish Borders and the River Tweed
The Scottish Borders is a superb location for a walking holiday, with sprawling green countryside and bags of history to discover. Gentle valleys have been carved out by the babbling River Tweed, which meanders through the borderlands on its journey towards the North Sea. The hills here are low-lying so there are no precipitous peaks to negotiate on your hike, which makes this area a great choice for those who like to take things fairly easy.
The Borders Abbeys Way is one of the most famous walking routes in the region. It’s a circular long-distance footpath stretching for 65 miles, taking in the four border abbeys of Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Kelso. If doing the whole thing seems a bit daunting, you can easily choose a section or two to enjoy as a standalone day walk. Try and incorporate Melrose Abbey on your trip as this is where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried.
There’s plenty to do on rest days in the Scottish Borders, including visiting Abbotsford House where Sir Walter Scott once lived, and heading to Scott’s View for sweeping panoramas over the Eildon Hills and the River Tweed. The area is so peaceful that it’s hard to imagine the battles and skirmishes that have taken place here over the years, or that the Border Reivers once plagued these lands with their cattle-rustling antics.
Beaches and Castles in Northumberland
Northumberland was once the stronghold of kings, queens, and even Vikings thanks to its strategic coastal location. As a result there are many castles scattered along these windswept shores, some in ruin, some still lived in. Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle are the most-visited, and you might recognise them as filming locations from the Harry Pottery movies and Downton Abbey. Further up the coast is the tidal island of Lindisfarne, famous for the monks who once lived there, and for the delicious mead that is still brewed there today. Do check the causeway timetable before planning your visit, and go with enough time to explore the castle and walk around the island perimeter.
A walk along the Northumberland Coast Path will take in some of these historic treasures, with the most popular route starting at Warkworth and continuing through medieval Alnwick towards the beach at Beadnell. There are lots of homely guesthouses dotted along the way, so this is an easy and civilised way to stretch the legs and enjoy some of the best things to do in Northumberland.
The hiking here isn’t too strenuous, although the path undulates more than you’d perhaps expect for the coast. This is a good thing however, as the twists and turns treat you to views you’d not otherwise have seen. Keep an eye out for wildlife as you pass along these pristine stretches of shoreline, including sea birds, wildfowl, seals, and sometimes even dolphins if you’re lucky!
The Lake District National Park
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK for a walking holiday, and it’s not all about the mountains. There are hidden valleys, tranquil lakes, and chocolate box villages to explore too, with enough hiking routes to keep you occupied for years, yet alone a week! It’s a popular tourist area so there’s a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation, and everywhere is walker-friendly, since that’s what most people come here to do!
Feeling energetic? Then lace up your boots and head for the high fells like Scarfell Pike, Helvellyn, or the Old Man of Coniston for lofty views and a supremely satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Or for something a little less epic but equally rewarding, check out the trails in Borrowdale and take a dip in one of the many plunge pools that pepper the valleys.
When you’re not walking, there are plenty of sights to keep you occupied, from steamer rides on Derwentwater and Windermere, to gingerbread tasting at the traditional shop in Grasmere. Or venture into the slate mines up at Honister and try the via ferrata if you have a head for heights! Other favourites include Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount where poet William Wordsworth once lived, and having a go at canoeing or sailing on one of the many lakes.
The North Norfolk Coast
North Norfolk is a super place to go for bird watching, as well as hiking amongst the beautiful scenery. You’ll find plenty of walking routes in Norfolk suitable for all fitness levels, including lots of gentle rambles through dreamy countryside. There are secluded nature reserves and golden beaches to enjoy when you want to give the legs a rest. Take your binoculars and see if you can spot bitterns, waders, and marsh harriers as they go about their daily business, and make sure your camera batteries are fully charged as you’re going to be constantly snapping away. Quaint little harbours surprise and delight with their colourful houses, while fishing boats bob gently up and down on the water.
Inland, the county of Norfolk is packed full of intriguing history, with lots of pretty medieval churches to pop inside, and royal estates to discover if you want to see how the other half lived. Sleepy rural villages and vast green swathes of countryside complete the picture, making Norfolk ideal for a walking holiday.
Wherever you decide to go for your holiday, you won’t be disappointed. The UK has a wealth of wonderful regions to explore, and there’s no better way to do this than on foot. What are your favourite areas for hiking? Share them with us in the comments below.