There’s something about the idea of a new journey that’s endlessly exciting. And when you combine a journey with a holiday, it’s even more appealing. So why not set off on a walking holiday somewhere in the UK?

From coasts to crags and mountains to moors, our shores have a wealth of spectacular scenery to explore. Plus, by going on foot, at your own pace, you can discover some of the UK’s best-kept secrets.

So, if you’re interested in a walking holiday that takes you off the beaten track, here are five inspiring ideas.

1. Northumberland Coast Path, England

Northumberland Coast Path, England

Northumberland may not be as well known for its beauty as the Lake District or the Yorkshire Moors, but this county boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in England. Walking the Northumberland Coast Path will be a wonderful adventure if you like being by the coast and have at least six days to spare.

Beginning in the village of Creswell, this 72-mile trek takes you up to Berwick-on-Tweed on the Scottish border. You’ll pass sweeping beaches, historic fishing villages, ancient castles, craggy cliffs, and secluded coves.

But it’s not all natural scenery because this region is steeped in history. Human activity has been documented here as far back as 7,000 years ago, and the route will take you past some of the UK’s most splendid castles.

From Creswell, you’ll head north to the picturesque coastal village of Alnmouth, stopping off to visit the well-preserved medieval castle of Warkworth. The route then takes you to Craster (famous for being the home of smoked kipper), where you’re within easy reach (four miles) of Dunstanburgh Castle.

Next, you’ll arrive at the popular harbour town of Seahouses, which is the gateway to the Farne Islands, one of the best places to see puffins and seals in the UK. You can also book boat tours and spot wildlife from the sea.

Though the scenery along the Northumberland Coast Path is dramatic, the route is pretty much level, with few steep climbs. If you want to thoroughly explore the area, it’s worth giving yourself 10 days to complete the trek. This will leave you plenty of time to visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which became a centre for Christian learning and a popular place of pilgrimage.

It’s recommended that you book your ticket to Lindisfarne Castle by 3pm the day before to avoid disappointment.

You can download an official Northumberland Coast Path Guidebook on the path’s website. Packed with information about the route and sites to see along the way, it’s an essential companion for the trek.

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2. Glyndŵr’s Way, Wales

Glyndŵr’s Way, Wales

Mid-Wales is one of the most sparsely populated areas of the UK. So, if you really want to feel like you’re getting away from it all, trekking the length of Glyndŵr’s Way might be the perfect walking holiday for you.

This 135-mile route allows you to follow in the footsteps of Owain Glyndŵr, the legendary Welsh leader who spearheaded a successful rebellion against the English in 1400.

You’ll hike through a beautiful and diverse range of scenery and terrain. From lush valleys to ancient woodland and wild open moorland, this peaceful trail has it all. To properly explore this unspoilt region, it’s a good idea to allow at least nine days.

The route begins in Knighton on the Welsh/English border and follows a horseshoe line through the secluded countryside of the Radnorshire Hills. You’ll pass through Llanidloes, a historic market town that’s popular with hikers. With plenty of excellent restaurants, shops, and cosy places to stay, it’s a lovely place to spend the night.

You’ll then hike past the stunning Clywedog Reservoir, where you can enjoy some sailing and bird watching. If you take a slight detour from the trail, you can also tackle Foel Fadian Hill, where, after a 1,530ft climb, you’ll be rewarded with sensational views of Snowdonia to the north and Cardigan Bay to the west.

The route then takes you past moorland and lakes before hitting Machynlleth, where Glyndŵr held Wales’ first Parliament. It’s a great place to learn more about Welsh history. While you’re here, you might want to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology,  an eco-centre that inspires and informs people about sustainable development.

Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can walk Glyndŵr’s Way, though bear in mind it’s very hilly, and there are often multiple ascents a day. Because the route crosses the countryside, it can also be a little rough sometimes (though, as a National Trail, it’s well-marked). With this in mind sturdy walking boots are a must.

Part of the trail’s appeal is its remoteness, but this should be considered when making your plans and carrying provisions. You can find out more about planning your Glyndŵr’s Way adventure on the National Trails website.

3. Speyside Way, Scotland

Speyside Way, Scotland

Just like certain regions of Wales, much of Scotland remains wild and under-explored, making it another ideal destination for an inspiring UK walking holiday.

Speyside Way is a leisurely ramble through the eastern highlands of Scotland, and the 65-mile route takes you past ancient pine forests, mysterious lochs, and the dramatic mountains of The Cairngorms, Britain’s largest National Park.

Along with the natural scenery, this route takes you deep into Scotland’s Malt Whisky country, where there are more malt whisky distilleries than anywhere else in the world.

Six nights is usually enough to complete the trail, but it’s sensible to add a few more if you want to try all the fabulous food and drink this region offers. You’ll find more inspiration in our article; 8 of the best beauty spots in the Cairngorms.

The Speyside Way trail begins in the town of Aviemore, which is popular with travellers due to its proximity to the lochs, forests, and mountain trails of the Cairngorms National Park. Though, once you set off, things get far more remote.

You could always spend a few days in Aviemore before walking to the next town, Grantown-on-Spey. This is a long stretch of the trail (17 miles), and while it’s across easy terrain, you might want to stop for a night in between, either at Nethy Bridge or Boat of Garten (the latter has an excellent golf course if that helps you decide!).

The route is easy to stick to, as you’re mainly following a disused railway line that winds its way past pine forests, through farmland, and over gentle hills. As you head north from Grantown, you’ll reach the splendid Ballindalloch Castle, which has its own distillery. You can also visit nearby distilleries like Glenlivet or Macallan to enjoy a tour and some tastings.

If you haven’t had your fill of whisky yet, there’s good news: the next stops are Craigellachie and Dufftown. From either, you can walk to the Glenfiddich distillery, where one of the world’s most famous malt whiskies is made.

The next part of the walk is through forest and down tough tarmac road, but you can rest your feet once you arrive in the charming village of Fochabers. This is the home of the famous Baxters food brand, so if you’re a fan of their jams and biscuits, be sure to stop at the visitor centre, which has shops and restaurants.

As you continue to your final stop, the small fishing town of Buckie, make sure to keep an eye out for dolphins and seals. They’re particularly common at the point where the River Spey meets the Moray Firth.

You can find out more about planning your Scottish walking holiday on the official Speyside website

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4. The Pilgrim’s Walk, Northern Ireland

The Pilgrim’s Walk, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is famed for its dramatic natural beauty, and one of the best ways to explore it is by walking the newly-launched hiking trail, Saint Patrick’s Way. Also known as ‘The Pilgrim’s Walk’, it’s an 82-mile trail between the towns of Armagh and Downpatrick, which takes you past spectacular scenery as you make 10 different stops.

The Pilgrim’s Walk is a great way to discover the diversity of the Northern Irish landscape. You’ll walk through rolling coastal farmland and over towering mountains, and visit medieval castles, bustling towns, and state-of-the-art visitor centres. The trail usually takes six to 10 days, depending on your pace, and it’s relatively gentle.

Setting off from Armagh, you’ll pass through lakes and forests as you head south towards Scarva, a village with award-winning floral displays. Then, you’ll follow the pretty canal towpath to Newry, where you can enjoy the good restaurants, bars, and shops.

Things become much more remote once you leave Newry, as the route takes you through the awe-inspiring Mourne Mountains and the quiet mystery of Tollymore Forest Park

The penultimate section of the trail leads past the seaside town of Newcastle (home to the world-famous Royal County Down Golf Club) and then through the wild country of Murlough Bay Nature Reserve. From here, you’ll make your way along the stunning sand dunes of Tyrella Beach and you’ll finish in the rural village of Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick is said to be buried.

While this walk follows in the footsteps of Ireland’s patron saint, you don’t have to be Catholic or religious to find meaning on this route. You’ll experience peaceful solitude along the quiet stretches of the trail, but should you get the urge to experience some hospitality or see a friendly face, a warm welcome awaits in the region’s many excellent pubs.

To make the walking experience more fun, you can pick up a ‘Pilgrim Passport’ at the start and get it stamped at each of the 10 locations. When you finish, you can collect a completion certificate from the St Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick.

5. Shropshire Hills, England

Shropshire Hills, England

If you don’t have much time or just fancy a short break, why not consider a UK walking holiday in the Shropshire Hills?

This region is perfect for people who like climbing hills and admiring views. And though there are plenty of summits here, the trails aren’t too strenuous and can be completed in two to four days, depending on your pace.

As you explore one of England’s quietest counties, you’ll amble over heather-covered hills, through ancient woodlands, past rivers, and down valleys – as well as exploring iron age forts and picturesque rural villages.

You can spot wild ponies and circling buzzards as you trek through thick heath and moorland, and while it does feel like you’re way off the beaten track, all the trails are well-marked, so you don’t have to worry about losing your way – only enjoying the scenery.

One of the best routes here will take you in a loop from the historic market town of Church Stretton and through the village of Bishops Castle, with plenty of other gorgeous stops along the way.

You can admire picture-postcard views from the top of Caer Caradoc hill and the rocky Stiperstones, and trekking up Long Mynd plateau will be well worth it once you reach the summit and see the panorama unfold beneath you.

You can find help with planning a route through the Shropshire Hills on Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website.

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Final thoughts…

It’s no secret that walking can be hugely beneficial for the mind and body. There are many different types of walks to enjoy, but there’s something particularly energising about heading off on a UK walking holiday.

While some of these trips stop off at lively towns and villages, it’s entirely possible to plan for a more isolated UK walking holiday. Should you wish to do this, it’s best to book accommodation in quiet B&Bs or cottages in more rural locations.

Because walking helps boost your mood, an adventure like this can be a wonderful way to find respite from the stress of our everyday lives. On foot, we can travel to some of the most secluded and spectacular parts of the UK and experience things we might miss by car.

Plus, the fact that we’re improving our health and fitness while discovering some of the most beautiful and unspoilt locations is a bonus.

Have you been on a UK walking holiday before – or are you now thinking about planning one? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.