Where to go walking in England


GREEN & PLEASANT LAND

England is indeed green and pleasant but this slightly undersells it when it comes to the eclectic beauty that you can walk through. There is a whole palette of colours going on as painters such as Turner famously captured along the Suffolk coast, with misty pink and ecru so accurately portraying its wild beauty. Or the vibrant purples and yellows of Hockney’s Yorkshire landscapes, painted on large canvasses in order to depict the seasonal changes in these gorgeous vast terrains. Seek out the heavenly heliotropes of Ivon Hitchens’ South Downs, or the evocative icy blues of William Heaton Cooper’s famous Lake District landscapes. And then get walking. You may even be tempted to pack some watercolours.
Cotswolds Dorset Lake District Peak District Pilgrims’ Way Shakespeare’s Way South West Coast Path Suffolk coast Sussex & the South Downs Thames Path White Cliffs of Dover and Kent coast Yorkshire

Cotswolds

It is not surprising that great writers from Shelley to Waugh have been inspired by the Cotswolds. Like their literary worlds, walking here transports you to a serene and soothing place. Walk through ancient towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold or Bourton-on-the-Water, where even the names evoke time gone by. Well known for its slow food ethos, you won’t be short of fine inns and food as you wander through village and vale.

Dorset

A six-day, self guided walking holiday will take you along this dramatic and downright gobsmacking Jurassic Coast, also a UNESCO site, thanks to its cliffs, rocks and fossils dating back 185 million years. It is breathtakingly beautiful but the walking won’t take your breath away too much with a relatively flat route between Weymouth and Swanage. A wonderful shorter break is in the Purbeck Hills and around Studland.

Lake District

Tackling parts of the Cumbria Way will take you through some of the national park’s typical topography through remote farmland, rivers and fells between Ulverston and Carlisle, for example. Book a tailor made holiday for at least eight days to cover the whole thing, having bags transported for you, and amble through Lake District classics like Coniston Water, Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick.

Peak District

This is UK’s first national park with dramatic Derbyshire moorland, particularly around the Dark Peak, to the river valleys of the White Peak, where you can tailor make a holiday depending on how many days you are able to spoil yourself with. Spend three days walking around Dovedale, for example, where the likes of Tennyson and Byron gushed about the River Dove valley, wooded ravines, stepping stones and hidden caves.

Pilgrims’ Way

This trail between Winchester and Canterbury follows in the footsteps of pilgrims between two magnificent cathedral cities. Walk on ancient tracks, across the chalk hills of North and Kent Downs, and through magnificent ancient woodland. With a great network of accommodation (and pubs, of course) along the way, self guided holidays are easy, with bags transported for you, and choosing as long a section as you like.

Shakespeare’s Way

Download a few sonnets before heading off on this gorgeous route through the poetry and prose inspiring landscapes between Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon and his Globe Theatre in London. A tailor made trip will help you decide the best bits of this 235km trail to take on; though you’ll be pushed for choice with delights such as the Cotswolds, Chilterns, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Blenheim Palace.

South West Coast Path

The mother of them all when it comes to marine magnificence. A 1,000km walking trail around England’s dramatically beautiful southwest through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, with about ten clear sections that are easily navigable for independent walking. Regional treats include Lands End, Lundy Island, Salcombe and Burgh Island. Or push the boat out and do the Scilly Isles, too.

Suffolk coast

Suffolk’s long beaches and nature reserves such as at Walberswick, with its gorgeous dunes and superb bird watching in wide open expanses of wetlands, make your heart soar. As does the sea swimming. Start in Aldeburgh, famous for being home and inspiration for Benjamin Britten, head to Turner country at Orford, and then up the coast to the charming town of Southwold or historic fishing village of Dunwich.

Sussex & the South Downs

A perfect escape, and just a short hop from London. The downs, their eponymous national park and Sussex coast boast some of the most eclectic walking escapes. From the Ouse Valley famous for its Bloomsbury Set, or estuarine landscapes around Chichester harbour to the heart of the South Downs, where you can take on part of the magnificent South Downs Way (161km), it’s a walker’s must.

Thames Path

Far from just a path through central London, this national trail stretches for nearly 300km from the Thames Barrier to the mouth of the river in Gloucestershire. Book a tailor made holiday and take on a section that tickles your Thames fancy, discovering historic cities such as Windsor and Oxford along the way. Relatively flat and accessible, wander through Cotswold prettiness to historic havens, with endless waterside pubs en route.

White Cliffs of Dover & Kent coast

Take a tailor made holiday to visit some of Kent’s most historic sites, such as Canterbury and Dover Castle and also walk on the Saxon Shore Way, where you will be following the great White Cliffs of Dover. This is a long distance path between Gravesend and Hastings, tracing the coast as it was in Roman times. The section between Deal and Dover is particularly stunning.

Yorkshire

Walking heaven from dale to dale, through ancient towns and villages. Take a guided or self guided trip for 3-14 days, with a good 10 days needed to complete the Dales Way from Ilkley to Lake Windermere. This is 130km of wild and wonderful Yorkshire landscapes and a vast history. If every stone wall could tell a story and all that. For a shorter trip, Prior Richard Way between York and Ripon is divine.

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WHERE TO GO ON A WALKING HOLIDAY IN ENGLAND


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL'S SUPPLIERS RECOMMEND

Paul Day, Managing Director at Let’s Go Walking, shares his experiences of walking in England: “One of my favourite walks is on Dartmoor. It’s a short walk and takes between 2 to 3 hours but the variety of landscapes and quietness that you’ll find en-route from Okehampton to the village of Sticklepath via Belstone are simply stunning. Belstone’s a beautifully unspoiled village on the north edge of Dartmoor and the Dartmoor Inn at Sticklepath makes for a great place to start or finish a walk, no matter what time of year it is.”
June Zaft of our supplier Country Walks: “The South Downs National Park is a much overlooked part of Southern England, often barely mentioned in books on walking in England. And yet, having walked all over the world for the past 40 years, we still regard it as one of the most scenic and accessible places to walk. It can be reached from London in an hour and from the Channel Ports in not much more. Its coast has it all: iconic chalk cliffs, flower-covered grasslands, skylarks soaring aloft. Then there's more history than you can shake a stick at - after all this is the coast where Julius Caesar chose to land in 55BC followed by William the Conqueror in 1066. And there are tearooms galore - what better way to finish a walk!”
Photo credits: [Top box: Colin Capelle] [Cotswolds: Herry Lawford] [Dorset: Kyle Taylor] [Lake District: john mcsporran] [Peak District: Stephen Bowler] [Pilgrims’ Way: Mikael Leppä] [Shakespeare’s Way: Diego Delso] [South West Coast Path: Chris Combe] [Suffolk coast: Catherine Sharman] [Sussex & the South Downs: Peter Trimming] [Thames Path: Garry Knight] [White Cliffs of Dover and Kent coast: Chensiyuan ] [Yorkshire: Gary Ullah] [Helpdesk: Alan Cleaver] [June Zaft quote: Dmitry Dzhus]
Written by Catherine Mack
Pilgrims Way self guided walking tour, England

Pilgrims Way self guided walking tour, England

Discover Kent's history, its landscape and its people

From £616 6 Days ex flights
Cumbria Way walking holiday, Lake District

Cumbria Way walking holiday, Lake District

Walking Holiday in England's Lake District The Cumbria Way

From £675 10 Days ex flights
Thames Path walking holiday, Cotswolds to London

Thames Path walking holiday, Cotswolds to London

Follow the Thames river from its source in the Cotswolds

From £763 8 Days ex flights
Cotswolds self guided walking break, England

Cotswolds self guided walking break, England

Self-guided walking tour through famous towns & villages

From £299 4 Days ex flights
East Devon self guided walking holiday, England

East Devon self guided walking holiday, England

Splendid walking on East Devon's outstanding coastal path

From £241 3 Days ex flights
White cliffs of Dover walking holiday in Kent, England

White cliffs of Dover walking holiday in Kent, England

Superb cliff top walk following the Saxon Shore Way

From £649 6 Days ex flights
Cotswolds Way self guided walking holiday, England

Cotswolds Way self guided walking holiday, England

Hike through one of Britain's most popular regions

From £803 12 Days ex flights
Northumberland coast walking holiday

Northumberland coast walking holiday

Self Guided Walking Holiday in Northumberland Coast Path

From £560 8 Days ex flights
The Ridgeway walking holiday, England

The Ridgeway walking holiday, England

Walking holiday along the oldest track in England

From £762 9 Days ex flights
South West Coastal Path walking holiday, England

South West Coastal Path walking holiday, England

The South West Coast Path and Isles of Scilly

From £459 8 Days ex flights
Shakespeares Way & Thames Path walking holiday

Shakespeares Way & Thames Path walking holiday

Two fantastic traditional English walks.

From £595 8 Days ex flights
Pilgrims Way guided walk

Pilgrims Way guided walk

Discover the Pilgrims' Way with author, Derek Bright

From £912 6 Days ex flights
Walking in Kent, self guided walks

Walking in Kent, self guided walks

Discover hidden Kent, its people and thier history.

From £741 7 Days ex flights
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