From gentle strolls to power hikes, the UK offers a variety of options to suit clients seeking a walking holiday.
Whether clients want to amble through historic villages or hike across mountains, the UK offers numerous exciting and challenging walking options to suit different abilities.
“The UK is a fantastic destination for walking, with diverse terrain and something to suit all levels of fitness, whether it be exploring the Devon coast or hiking an ancient trail following Hadrian’s Wall,” says Paco Gonzalez, sales and reservations manager at Ramblers Walking Holidays.
The operator has seen a resurgence in UK walking holidays, with a 20% increase in bookings year-on-year from November 2018 to November 2019.
Here, we round up new and existing walking tours to recommend to clients who want to pick up the pace on a trip that’s close to home.
New for 2020 is The Cumbria Way from Ramblers Walking Holidays, a classic walk with high passes and remarkable views of the Lakeland peaks.
The walk begins in Ulverston in south Cumbria, walking north to the historic city of Carlisle following a 74-mile linear trail, with around 12 miles covered each day.
There is free time at the end of the days’ walks for exploring the local towns such as Keswick, and there’s a chance for clients to visit the large sandstone castle in Carlisle, built to defend against Scottish invasion.
The route finishes at the Carlisle City information centre, where clients can buy a certificate to celebrate completing the hike.
Amber Parish-Smith, product manager at Ramblers Walking Holidays, says the trip is suited to advanced hikers: “The days are long with early starts and long distances each day to ensure the whole route is covered in the week’s stay. Clients therefore need to be fit and experienced in walking on different terrains.”
BOOK IT: The one-week Cumbria Way holiday starts from £679pp including accommodation, all meals except for one dinner, transport for walking and an experienced leader.
Departs 1 August 2020.
The Channel Island of Guernsey offers a diverse range of sights and walks over its 25 square miles.
Walking routes can be enjoyed at any time of year with audio guides that can be downloaded from the Visit Guernsey website.
An interactive map accompanies the audio guide, highlighting all the points of interest along the way.
Gill McCarthy, sales director at Channel Islands specialist Airways Holidays, says the routes suit a range of abilities.
“The suggested routes are designed with walkers of all levels in mind, whether they have years of hiking experience or just want to take it at a leisurely pace. Those who prefer a fully guided walk can join a group led by an accredited walking guide.”
She adds: “The islands of Sark and Herm are easily accessible from Guernsey and with no cars, they truly are a walker’s paradise.”
BOOK IT: A four-night break in Guernsey starts from £199pp, staying at the Driftwood Inn, travelling by sea from Poole in March 2020.
Wilderness Ireland’s new guided Hiking and Island Hopping – Ireland’s West Coast trip explores four islands.
Beginning in Galway the walk visits Burren national park, said to have inspired JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth in his novels.
Over the following days, there are stops at Inis Meain in the Aran Islands and little-known Gorumna Island, followed by an evening visit to the Cliffs of Moher.
On Inisbofin, a walk along Killary Fjord offers clients the chance to spot pods of dolphins. Clare Island, the 16th-century stronghold of pirate queen Grace O’Malley, rounds off the island-hopping.
Patricia Doe, general manager of Wilderness Ireland, offers her tips for when to visit: “Though west coast weather is always variable, the best time to visit is April and May, ahead of the traditional tourist season. The terrain is gentle, making island hikes accessible to most active visitors.”
BOOK IT: Wilderness Ireland’s Hiking and Island Hopping is priced from around £1,524pp based on two sharing, including six nights’ B&B accommodation, some meals, luggage transfers and guiding. Departs 25 April, 16 May, 13 June, 25 July or 15 August 2020. Excludes flights.
Inntravel’s South Downs Way walking holiday explores this rural corner of England on a self-guided basis.
Starting in the picturesque town of Petworth, clients will follow the ridgeline of the South Downs to encounter prehistoric burial sites, hilltop forts, chalk sculptures and quaint villages.
Another highlight is a trail to Kingley Vale, a National Nature Reserve, with Bronze Age burial mounds known as the Devil’s Humps.
“The UK is a fantastic destination for walking, with diverse terrain to suit all levels”
Emily Bailey, UK product manager at Inntravel, says clients need a reasonable level of fitness to join the trip.
“Our walking route is gentle-to-moderate – aimed at people who are not necessarily seasoned walkers but who can manage walks of several miles over relatively easy terrain.”
BOOK IT: Inntravel’s six-night South Downs Way trip is priced from £530pp based on two sharing, including B&B, some meals, transfers, walking maps and luggage transfers.
Available 1 April to 31 October 2020.
Shearings Holidays has launched a selection of new self-guided walking breaks for 2020 in various locations across the UK.
The walks range from light, one-mile strolls to more ambitious and challenging hikes including Ben Nevis in Scotland and the Helvellyn in the Lake District.
As the walks are self-guided, clients can go at their own pace while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Clients will also have the convenience of being taken to their hotel by coach from several pick-up points to start the tour.
Jane Atkins, managing director at Shearings Holidays, says: “We’ve ensured we offer both short and long options to cater for all levels of walkers and each break includes a pack of self-guided walks from the hotel and a daily packed lunch.”
BOOK IT: Shearings Holidays’ five-day Fort William Walking Break is priced from £259pp, including four nights’ half-board, walking pack with details of three key walks, three packed lunches and all coach travel.
Available May to September 2020. Based on two sharing.
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Shearings is the UK's largest escorted tour operator, offering a broad range of holidays and hotel breaks to more than 200 destinations across the UK, Europe and Worldwide.