If you are one of the many people who turned to walking when your normal activities were off-limits and now find that your appetite has been whetted to explore a little further afield on foot, the good news is that there is a wide range of walking holidays for beginners in the UK.
Beginners’ walking holidays follow the same simple format as any other walking holiday: each day features a different walk, described in detailed route notes along the lines of: “Pass through the gate, continue along the field edge for 250m until you reach a stile…” Besides directions, the route notes also include tips for lunch stops, plus optional detours to viewpoints and information about the places of interest that you pass.
All the accommodation is booked for you, and your luggage is transported ahead. The great advantage of self-guided walking holidays is that you can rest as often as you need to, and walk at a pace that suits you. There really is no rush, so take your time, enjoying the views and the wildlife.
There are several factors to bear in mind when making a decision:
This is an obvious one, but worth emphasising. For a first-time walking holiday, it is important not to over-estimate your ability. A holiday is meant to be enjoyable, but it won’t be if the walks are too difficult or too long. As regards distances, you shouldn’t necessarily be put off if some of the distances are longer than you would normally tackle – you do, after all, have all day to complete each walk. That said, you should also bear in mind that you’ll be walking on consecutive days, which is more demanding than enjoying a long walk once a week. All in all, err on the side of caution.
The number of nights spent at each hotel is also an important consideration. A top tip is to look for a holiday which features some two-night stays, rather than a different hotel every night, as this gives you the option of resting on non-itinerant days – although a circular walk is suggested, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. Alternatively, consider adding an extra night into the itinerary so that you can have a ‘day off’ from walking.
The walking notes that are provided will keep you on the right path. However, for added peace of mind, you might like to choose a holiday that follows an established long-distance trail, as these are well-waymarked throughout. Alternatively, look for holidays for which GPS navigation is provided in addition to the route notes.
Length of the holiday
If you are at all unsure of your ability, choose a short break rather than a longer holiday.
Why it features on our best walking holidays in the UK for beginners list: the walking is gentle and, since it’s a short break, there are only three walks, the last of which is optional
What could be more delightful than a leisurely walk beside a gently flowing river – the Waveney – as it meanders through a lush green landscape of fertile arable fields and shady woods, punctuated with peaceful villages, ancient churches and fascinating historic sites? As you stroll along the riverbank, keep your eyes peeled for a variety of wildlife, from water voles and moles, to kingfishers and coots.
Why it features on our best walking holidays in the UK for beginners list: not only is the walking easy, but the routes follow waymarked trails throughout, plus three of the five walks are optional
This is a holiday with wide appeal – there’s a stunning coastline; a wealth of wildlife, particularly birds, but seals, too; the vast estates of Sandringham and Holkham; beautiful medieval churches; sleepy coastal villages; and a growing foodie scene. The icing on the cake is the top-notch accommodation: inns, guesthouses and hotels exuding character and comfort.
Why it features on our best walking holidays in the UK for beginners list: since the holiday follows a section of the waymarked Thames Path, the navigation is as easy as the walks themselves, three of which are optional
The Thames is a constant companion as you walk. Well-known towns and cities – illustrious Oxford, ancient Abingdon, upmarket Henley-on-Thames, foodie Marlow – contrast with bucolic scenery of peaceful water meadows, shady riverbanks, and quintessentially English villages. The accommodation is of a particularly high standard, with food to match, meaning you’ve got plenty to look forward to at the end of each walk.
Why it features on our best walking holidays in the UK for beginners list: the presence of the sea, and the fact that many of the routes follow waymarked trails, help with navigation, plus three of the five walks are optional
There are several good reasons to choose Northumberland for a walking holiday: the long sweeps of near-deserted sand; the chance to spot puffins, kittiwakes, oystercatchers and numerous other seabirds and waders; and impressive castles such as Warkworth, Bamburgh and much-photographed Dunstanburgh. Many of the walking routes follow the spectacular Northumberland Coast Path, and the excellent local bus network lets you adapt the routes as you wish, so if you want to spend more time visiting the places of interest, you can.
If you’d prefer something even easier, we also offer a 4-night walking break in Northumberland.
Why it features on our best walking holidays in the UK for beginners list: the walking is slightly more demanding than others listed here, but the fact that this short break only features two hotels means that two of the three walks are optional
The undulating countryside of the South Downs is said to have inspired William Blake’s immortal phrase, ‘this green and pleasant land’, and there can be no doubt that Blake would still recognise the landscapes today: unspoiled villages; high ridges with panoramic views; and grassland that is home to myriad wildflowers and butterflies. The accommodation, two traditional but well-heeled hostelries providing excellent food, is another highlight of this short but satisfying break.