We’ve scoured the UK to bring you the best walking holidays, from improving your fitness and finding like-minded people to seeking self-care and fab food!
Best walking holidays for companionship
The Ramblers, Gower Peninsula, Wales
The Ramblers organisation has long been known for connecting people who love walking and like the companionship of a group, and Ramblers Walking Holidays was set up to cater for those who want more than a day’s walk.
More than half of its customers are solo travellers.
The Gower coastline is spectacular – azure blue seas and vast sandy beaches, dotted with ruins dating back hundreds of years and burial sites that are even older.
On this four-night break, based at a beachside hotel, each day will take you on a different route with like-minded lovers of walking and nature.
Several dates, starting August 9. From £535, including half board, en-suite accommodation (breakfasts and dinners), and all transport to and from the walks. Visit ramblersholidays.co.uk for information.
Best for going off the beaten track
Taste of the Cotswolds with Foot Trails
If you don’t like following in the footsteps of others, Foot Trails has an excellent reputation for providing routes that you’ll probably have almost to yourself.
They’re self-guided so you really can seek out peace and solitude.
You’ll stay in a gorgeous 17th-century country pub and this break can be three or four nights long. Each day will see you doing a different walk using little-known routes, taking you through a variety of landscapes, from a river valley with old mills to tiny villages of honey-coloured stone.
An indoor lunch stop is on offer every day, so you can refuel at a cosy pub or café.
From £335pp for three nights B&B, based on two sharing. Includes transport and little extras, such as a bottle of wine, sweets, and nature cards for identifying local wildlife. Visit foottrails.co.uk for details.
Best walking holidays for mindfulness
Mindfulness for Beginners retreat at Sharpham House, Totnes, Devon
Walking can be a meditative experience in itself, a time to clear your head and reflect, but this three-night retreat will teach you invaluable meditation skills, too, so you can learn how to be mindful in all that you do, including exercise.
Along with mindful walking with the course leaders, you’ll have several hours of free time each day and you’re encouraged to explore the extensive estate on foot. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty so you can lose yourself in its verdant, tree-lined, flower-filled glory.
If you get the meditation bug and want to up the walking challenge, book onto one of Sharpham’s longer walking retreats, with walks that are about seven to eight miles in length and partially silent.
Several courses are available, starting June 5, from £345, including all meals. Visit sharphamtrust.org for details of their retreats.
Best for mental wellbeing
Water in Summer, Nature Escapes, Bellingham, Northumberland
Join experienced guides Fleur and Pete for a calming weekend as you use the power of water to rediscover yourself.
The nature walk takes in beautiful lakes and waterfalls, with several opportunities to try activities, such as forest bathing, otherwise known as shinrin yoku, a Japanese practice that means spending time among the trees.
Several studies have shown that forest bathing reduces the stress hormone cortisol and boosts the immune system.
Fleur is a trained counsellor and facilitates a lovely bond among the group.
June 11-13, from £600 for a twin/double for two nights, guidance, forest bathing, and all meals. Visit natureescapes.co.uk for information on this and other rejuvenating breaks.
Best for spirituality
Northumberland coast and its castles with Inntravel
Religious or not, this pilgimage into Britain’s past is definitely one worth doing. Northumberland was once the powerhouse of England, where saints and kings – and Viking raiders – shaped the destiny of the country.
These walks, totalling 31 or 37 miles (50km or 60km) over five days, draw you into that history, taking in ruins, fortresses, medieval castles, and sweeping coastal views.
It’s self-guided, so you can enjoy hours of solitude or do it with a friend/partner. Your walk begins in Warkworth and ends in Beadnell, where you then have the option of going on to Holy Island, the start point for Christianity to spread across England.
You can also take a boat to Farne Islands to see seals. Your trip includes dinner for two of the days and your luggage is taken ahead.
Available between now and October 31. From £740pp based on two sharing for six nights, inc breakfast and two dinners. Visit inntravel.co.uk to find out more about this, and other trips.
Best walking holidays for a gourmet getaway
The Forest Side, Grasmere, Cumbria
For those who like to know they’ve got a fabulous meal waiting for them after a strenuous walk or hike, look no further than The Forest Side in Grasmere. This is a guest house with a difference – its restaurant holds a Michelin star and four AA rosettes. Fresh, seasonal produce underpins all that head chef Paul Leonard and his team creates. In fact, 90 per cent of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced within 10 miles of the property.
Choose from either four courses or eight and expect unusual flavour combinations, such as raw aged Cumbrian deer, Herwick mutton broth and salt-baked kohlrabi, roasted kelp, and foraged mushrooms.
Walk it off with a four-mile stroll around Grasmere lake, where you’ll pass Penny Rock Beach and Deerbolt Woods.
From £299 per room, per night, including dinner and breakfast. Visit theforestside.com.
Best for a Challenge
Best of the Saint Patrick’s way, Northern Ireland or the West Highland escape, Scotland
If you’d like a challenge packed into your short break, putting in some distance is a great way to do it.
This self-guided walking break (graded moderate) sees you covering 11 miles/18km each day over three days, immersing you in the breathtaking beauty of this pilgrimage trail.
Starting in Newry and ending in Newcastle, you’ll walk through rolling farmland with sea views, the stunning Tollymore Forest, the drama of the Mourne Mountains (a filming location for Game of Thrones), and admire the views over Carlingford Lough. These are the landscapes that inspired C S Lewis to dream up Narnia.
If Scotland is more accessible to you, we recommend the self-guided 37mile/60km walk over three days from the Bridge of Orchy to Fort William along the most scenic section of the famous West Highland Way.
This walk has a fair bit of ascent, gifting you with vast mountainous views that you’ll never forget.
Best of the St Patrick’s Way is from £375pp, including four nights B&B and luggage transfers. The West Highland Escape is from £425pp and also includes the above. For both, visit macsadventure.com.
Best for relaxation
Brimstone Hotel on the Langdale Estate, Ambleside, Cumbria
Located in the heart of the hiking heaven that is the Lake District, this 16-room boutique hotel will give you the ultimate luxury walking weekend.
Hotel staff can provide detailed route sheets suited to your needs, ranging from a half-hour stroll to an all-day hike, graded easy, moderate, or hard.
It also has a dedicated boot room full of Arc’teryx kit, which guests can borrow free of charge. Packed lunches are available on request and you can be driven to walk locations if one of the many walks straight from the estate doesn’t appeal. At the end of the day, you can come back, change into your dressing gown, raise a glass of bubbly and ease your aching legs in the hotel’s spa or in the enormous bathtub in your room.
The hotel also offers an in-room dining menu if you can’t bear to change out of that robe.
From £293.25 per room on a B&B basis with Reading Room treats included and access to Brimstone Spa and Langdale’s Fitness & Leisure facilities (dependent on government Covid-19 guidelines). Visit brimstonehotel.co.uk.