The UK’s diverse landscape offers some stunning scenery, which makes it perfect for weekend walks. A walking break is a fantastic way to explore the British Isles and marvel at the natural beauty it has to offer. There are also lots of incredibly preserved historical sites to discover. So whether you’re looking for picturesque villages set among rolling hills, or a more challenging trek up wild and jagged mountains, we’ve got the locations for the best hiking holidays right here.
Best Walking Holidays by Location
South West Coastal Path from Padstow to Tintagel
Distance: 2 days, 20.5 miles
With its dramatic coastline, beautiful fishing harbours and stunning beaches, it’s easy to see why Cornwall is home to some of the best walking holidays in the country. Not forgetting the delicious Cornish pasty, refreshing scrumpy and delightful cream teas.
If you’re looking for a weekend walking break, this stretch of the South West Coast Path walk starts with a ferry ride across the Camel estuary, from Padstow (home to some of the best restaurants in the country) to the village of Rock. From there follows two days’ intensive walking along the wild and rugged Cornish coast. Look out for nesting seabirds in the cliffs, and bobbing fishing boats at Port Isaac (best known as the fictional Portwenn from the ITV television series Doc Martin).
You’ll finish at the famous Tintagel Castle—with its association with King Arthur—which is considered one of the most spectacular historic sites in Britain. Marvel at the towering medieval walls that rise above Atlantic tides, and cross the newly built Tintagel Castle Bridge, which now links the two separate halves of the castle for the first time in more than 500 years.
Yorkshire Three Peaks from Ribblehead
Distance: 2-3 days, 24 miles
Yorkshire is a truly stunning county, with the breathtaking natural beauty of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, and its charming historical cities and gorgeous villages. Many walkers take on The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge each year, which includes the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, forming part of the Pennine range.
Many try to complete the 24-mile route, which includes 5200ft of ascent, in under 12 hours. But if you fancy a slightly easier approach, start at Ribblehead before climbing the mighty ridge of Whernside for incredible views of Lake District fells. Then head onto Ingleborough to discover its Iron Age hill fort. Enjoy a well-earned rest at Ribblesdale, before completing the last of the three peaks, Pen-y-ghent, after breakfast and looping back to Ribblehead station where you can take in outstanding views of the Ribblehead Viaduct.
Looking for more walks in Yorkshire? Check out ‘Our 12 Best Walks in Yorkshire’ guide.
Norfolk Coast Path from Cromer to Sheringham
Distance: 1 day, 4.3 miles
If you’re a walking beginner, Norfolk’s flat countryside makes for an easy one day hike. The county boasts some of the best UK walking holidays, and the stretch of seaside path from Cromer to Sheringham is among the best walks around. After strolling by the gorgeous Victorian townhouses in Cromer, head west along the cliffs, taking in amazing North Sea views.
Before reaching your destination, you’ll get to Beeston Bump, a 207-foot hill located just to the east of Sheringham town centre, where you’ll take in some incredible views before following the path down into the town. Sheringham has a traditional high street with lots of independent shops, and there’s a popular Saturday market held throughout the year. There’s also an annual Cromer and Sheringham Crab/Lobster festival held in May every year, and the town’s Carnival is held at the beginning of August.
Glyndŵr's Way from Knighton to Machynlleth
Distance: 5-7 days, 73 miles
If you fancy a longer walking holiday, why not follow in the footsteps of Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr on this 73-mile trek. Glyndŵr's Way is one of the quietest long-distance walks in the UK, beginning on the English border at the Town Clock in Knighton. The route meanders through the Radnorshire Hills, before reaching Plinlimmon, the highest point in mid-Wales. The one-time Welsh capital of Machynlleth is the midpoint of the Way, but it’s also a good place to end as it’s served by regular rain connections.
If you want to walk the whole of Glyndŵr's Way, you’ll cross into sometimes rough and remote parts of the country, so the ability to navigate by compass will be useful if it’s misty. Glyndŵr’s Way ends at the canal in Welshpool, and it can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Summer brings long and hot days but some people prefer the wild flowers of spring or the spectacular colours of autumn.
Cotswold Way from Stroud to Dursley
Distance: 1-2 days, 10 miles
If you’re wanting stunning countryside views, the Cotswold Way offers some of the best. You’ll begin at Stroud, which is brimming with boutique shops, cafes and tearooms. In fact, you could spend a whole day just exploring the town of Stroud. From there, you’ll head south, with the Severn Estuary and the Welsh borders on the horizon, as oak woods adorn the slopes below. Make a stop off at the village of Uley, with its picture-perfect houses huddled under an Iron Age hill fort, before ending your walk in the market town of Dursley, which is fast becoming a centre for the arts.
The nearby train station at Cam has excellent links with Bristol and Gloucester, a connecting bus service to Dursley centre, and buses to Stonehouse, Stroud and the surrounding area. You can also reach spectacular Berkeley Castle and vibrant Painswick Rococo Garden by public transport if you’re keen to extend your visit.
Thames Path from Marlow to Windsor
Distance: 2 days, 14.3 miles
The Thames Path follows the greatest river in England past water meadows, unspoilt rural villages and historical towns and cities. The whole path is 184 miles long and it would take you more than two weeks to walk the entire distance, but a day trip or a long weekend break may be more manageable.
The Thames Path starts in the Cotswolds, and it meanders through several rural counties and on into the heart of London, finishing at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, just a few miles from the sea. Though a long-distance walking trail, it’s gentle and easy to follow, and can be walked by people of all ages and abilities, and there are always a range of birds and other wildlife to spot along the way.
This shortened walk starts at Marlow Bridge (from which Budapest's Széchenyi Chain Bridge was famously copied). Marlow is arguably set in the most beautiful stretch of the Thames Valley, with breathtaking Winter Hill rising on the opposite bank as you leave the town. Beyond Maidenhead, the river becomes busier, and there are great views of impressive homes and buildings, before finishing at the most impressive of them all, Windsor Castle, which towers above the water. The Berkshire stretches of the River Thames inspired ‘The Wind in the Willows’ book, and Quarry Wood on the south bank, is said to be the inspiration for ‘The Wild Wood’. Just keep an eye out for those crafty weasels.
South Downs National Park
South Downs Way from Lewes to Ditchling
Distance: 1 day, 7.5 miles
If you want a quick escape from the capital, try the South Downs, with its rolling hills, picturesque villages and rugged coastline. With breathtaking views across the English Channel, you can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, while being a few minutes from civilization. Lewis and Ditchling are considered some of Sussex’s prettiest places, home to wonky Tudor mansions and plenty of cosy pubs.
The South Downs Way is 160km in total, but joining the path near Lewes allows you to experience a stunning section of the trail on a day trip from London. As you meander west along the chalky ridges, ascending the summit of Ditchling Beacon, look out for the Grade II* listed twin windmills at Clayton (known locally as Jack and Jill). A bus service runs from Ditchling Beacon into the centre of Brighton, so you can grab a bite to eat and hit the beach to relax after your walk.
West Highland Way from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William
Distance: 3-4 days, 36 miles
The West Highland Way is an epic 96-mile trek across Scotland, and it’s not for the fainthearted. So if you want to explore a smaller—but still pretty epic—chunk of the trail, you can join the path on the final spectacular section from Bridge of Orchy to the town of Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis.
You’ll start by walking across the wild and beautiful Rannoch Moor, passing into the windswept mountains of Glen Coe. You’ll want to rest at Kinghouse before climbing up over snow-flecked summits to Kinlochleven. A second climb takes you into the Mamore Mountains, before heading down into Glen Nevis with the highest point in Britain, Ben Nevis (4,413 ft), as the backdrop. The finishing line at Fort William has great transport connections to Glasgow, London, or back to Bridge of Orchy.
Jurassic Coast from Weymouth to Swanage
Distance: 3-4 days, 30 miles
A week long self-guided walking holiday will take you along the incredibly stunning Jurassic Coast, with its cliffs, rocks and fossils dating back 185 million years. But if you want to explore the coastline in a few days, why not walk the route between Weymouth and Swanage? This relatively flat coastal route runs for just over 30 miles, passing a series of beautiful bays and sites of geological interest.
Starting on the front in Weymouth you head north east, passing Lodmoor Country Park near Preston. The route continues east past the Osmington White Horse to the lovely Ringstead Bay. The next stage takes you to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, two of the most picturesque highlights of this section of coast. The route then heads to Kimmeridge Bay, a marine wildlife reserve with lots of little rock pools to observe. The final stage takes you past the ancient St Aldhelm's Chapel and Durlston Country Park before coming into the popular seaside resort of Swanage, where there's a nice beach with lots of good cafes and pubs to enjoy a well-earned drink or two after your walk.
Pennine Way from Edale to Crowden
Distance: 2 days, 17 miles
This is a great long walk which can be done in a couple of days, that’s if you don’t fancy doing the full 268-mile trek all the way along the stunning Pennine Way to Kirk Yetholm. This is the first, and arguably the best of Britain's designated National Trails (it was granted the title in 1965), running from Edale in the Peak District, all the way through the Yorkshire Dales, before reaching the Scotish borders.
The first section of the Pennine Way connects the villages of Edale and Crowden, and while one of the most scenic stretches, it’s also one of the more challenging. It takes hikers through the wild, untamed beauty of the Kinder Plateau, offering panoramic views of the Peak District. After walking past Kinder Low trig point, then on to Kinder Downfall you begin descending to Mill Hill then across flagstoned moorland to the Snake Pass Road. Then you’re on to Bleaklow section, the remotest part of the hike. You’ll then descend to Torside Reservoir, and from there it’s just a short walk into Crowden.
There really is something for everyone on our list of the best UK walking holiday destinations. And with so many incredible places to choose from, where will your next walking holliday take you?