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With 2019 marking 70 years since the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, the recently revamped ‘Discover National Parks Fortnight’ – as promoted by National Parks UK – offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and discover the length and breadth of Britain’s countryside.
Here are some of our favourite walks in the UK’s magnificent National Parks.
National Parks UK says “A real haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Get inspired by the rolling hills, dramatic cliffs and picturesque villages found throughout the National Park.”
Exactly 100 miles of downland walking separate the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and Winchester, the former Saxon Capital of Wessex and England. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in crowded southern UK, this ancient route follows the chalk ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.
Find out more about walking the South Downs Way
Photo: Joseph Pearson
National Parks UK says “The majestic rolling hills, old stone villages and farming heritage of the Yorkshire Dales truly showcase the best of the British countryside.”
A circular walk that threads its way around the valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale and over the mountains and moorlands between these two emerald dales. The 50-mile route has been designed to take in some of the beloved countryside that James Alfred Wight, the vet who wrote about his experiences in the Yorkshire Dales as James Herriot, was so fond of.
Find out more about walking the James Herriot Way
National Parks UK says “Rugged yet beautiful. An awe-inspiring landscape of high fells, deep glacial lakes and quaint rural villages.”
Celebrated by the poetry of Wordsworth and the stories of Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, the Lake District is the first National Park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. In between quaint market towns, the trail leads past the peaceful depths of Coniston Water and Derwentwater lakes, as well as the superb Tarn Hows, set in picturesque wooded hills.
Find out more about walking the Cumbria Way
National Parks UK says “The perfect place to get away from it all. Fascinating ancient monuments, tranquil rolling moorland and the beautiful uplands of The Cheviot Hills”
Reflecting the life of the 7th century monk, the St Cuthbert’s Way takes you to the northernmost national park in England. Set between the Scottish borders in the north to just south of Hadrian's Wall, it is one of the least visited and least populated of the UK’s National Parks. It is home to England’s cleanest rivers and clearest air, as well as Europe’s largest area of protected night sky.
Find out more about walking St Cuthbert’s Way
LOCH LOMOND & THE TROSSACHS
National Parks UK says “One of Scotland’s most-loved landscapes. Home to the largest lake in the UK, multiple stunning lochs, extensive forests and dramatic mountain ranges.”
John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, on the southeast coast of Scotland, and as a child developed a deep love of the natural world around his home. The John Muir Way is a path that symbolically links Dunbar with Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the seaside town of Helensburgh in the west, forming a Scottish coast-to-coast route.
Find out more about walking the John Muir Way
Alternatively, you can take in the beauty of the North York Moors National Park on walks such as The Cleveland Way (one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails), the iconic Coast to Coast and The Pennine Way, a new addition for 2019.
There’s something very calming about walking beside a lake. The stillness of the water, and the views to the hills or mountains rising up from the far side of the lake can give a wonderful sense of space. And whether in the UK or Europe, lakeside towns and villages are often some of the most picturesque you’ll come across.
We offer a number of walks that include significant stretches of beautiful lakeside walking – here are a few of our favourites.
The Italian lakes are stunning – beautiful blue ribbons of water carving their way through majestic mountains, with classic coastal towns and villas dotted along the shores. Lake Como is one of the most famous, and has been a popular destination since the days of the Romans. As well as ancient Roman villas, the lake boasts grand hotels built for wealthy European and American tourists during the Victorian era.
Our trip starts in Como, and includes several walks that take you to some of the most attractive towns and villages on the lake’s shores, offering plenty of opportunities to drink in the magnificent views and sample the delicious food and wine.
Find out more about Lake Como Rambling here.
Undoubtedly the best way to enjoy Cumbria’s breath-taking natural beauty and refreshingly clear air is at a leisurely pace walking the Cumbria Way.
This tour provides an excellent introduction to the charms of English Lakeland, England’s most mountainous area, and one if its most beautiful regions. Walking is unquestionably the best way to see this celebrated landscape, hailed over the years by the likes of poets, authors and painters. Wordsworth, Tennyson, Arthur Ramson, Beatrix Potter and Wainwright have all left their mark.
Starting in Ulverston and finishing in Keswick, the walk takes in views of Lakes Coniston and Derwentwater, as well as Langdale and Borrowdale, two of the area’s prettiest valleys.
Find out more about walking the Cumbrian Way here.
Welcome to beautiful Upper Austria in the hinterland of Mozart’s city of Salzburg. The beauty of the area embraced by the Dachstein Mountains and the Hallstattersee is truly inspirational. There are people who claim that once you have walked here you will have experienced the best ‘typical’ alpine hiking in Europe.
After a few days in the mountains you’ll descend to the waters of Lake Hallstattersee, and the ancient, picture-perfect lakeside town of Hallstatt. From here you’ll be able to explore the fascinating local area, and swim in the lake if the weather is warm enough.
Find out more about the trip here.
The Wicklow Way is Ireland's oldest waymarked trail, pioneered by a famous hill walker, J.B Malone over 40 years ago and reveals some of Irelands finest views - Powerscourt Waterfall, Luggala, Loch Dan, Glenmalure and historical Glendalough.
The Wicklow Way explores unspoilt trails, remote scenery, lakes, glacial valleys, forests and gentle farmland – before finishing in the famous city of Dublin. Along the way, you’ll pass through the spectacular Glendalough valley, with views of the two lakes that sit at the bottom of the valley.
Photo: Magdalena Smolnicka
We offer 7-day and 9-day versions of the Wicklow Way.
Loch Ness hardly needs an introduction – Scotland’s second largest loch stretches for 23 miles along the Great Glen, which links Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north, and contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Whilst walking the great Glen Way, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Loch Ness, as well the other lochs, and the majestic surrounding mountains, including, of course, Ben Nevis itself, the UK’s highest peak. Along the way, you’ll be treated by famous Scottish hospitality, and traditional food.
Read more about walking the Great Glen Way here.
Not technically lakes, the Fjords are great coastal grooves, gouged out by retreating glaciers from the last ice-age. What they definitely are though, is spectacular – providing a breath-taking walking experience that will live with you forever. There are a wide range of walks to take in the highlands, which lead you right up onto the glaciers edge; it is even possible to go out onto the ice to take an excursion. There are also the lusher walks down into the pastoral settings of the Flam and Aurland Valleys. These are furnished with forests, farmsteads, cascades and churches.
You’ll also visit Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world.
Find out more about walking in the Fjordland here.
One of our self-guided cycling holidays, this trip takes you through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, which have long been a favoured destination for cyclists and walkers keen to experience the mountain peaks, shimmering lochs and pretty glens. Along the way, you’ll visit beautiful lochs Tay and Earn, as well as the River Tay and the peaceful lochside towns of Kenmore, Lochearnhead and Killin.
En route there are opportunities to take a forest walk or visit one of the many castles and ancient monuments to be found along the way.
Find out more about cycling the Lochs and Bens.
Trace the trails of Peter Rabbit in Beatrix Potter’s Lake District
Lake District walks have gotten an extra dimension now that the film Peter Rabbit has gone out in theatres across the globe. The live-action/computer-animated film of Peter Rabbit was part shot in the English Lake District in places like Windermere (on our Dales Way walking holidays).
Let the big screen inspire you to explore the timeless landscapes of Beatrix Potter’s Lake District – and her beloved character!
The story was originally introduced to the public in 1902 in ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and has captivated the imagination of readers of all ages for more than a hundred years. The new feature adaptation was partly filmed in the Lake District. This is a true ode to the character’s creator as Beatrix Potter had spent many holidays in the area, most likely she would have done the same Lake District walks as we take today. Potter is also widely credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.
For those who like to get a first-hand experience of Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, the highlights below of the Cumbrian Way walk may convince you to take a walking holiday to the region.
Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District
Follow in the footsteps of Peter Rabbit on a classic walking introduction to the charms of the world famous ‘Lakeland’, England’s largest and most visited national park. Highlights include:
· A celebrated landscape, hailed over the years not only by Beatrix Potter but also poets, authors and painters such as Wordsworth, Tennyson, Ramson and Wainwright.
· The first national park in the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, inscribed to protect a landscape that has been “greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards”.
· Follow the shores of quintessentially English lakes and find out why larger bodies of water are generally named as ‘mere’ or ‘water’, whilst smaller ones are denoted by ‘tarn’.
· Walk through sensational woodlands and forests that provide habitat for native English wildlife, including the red squirrel, one of the UK’s best-loved species.
· Cross typical stiles and ‘kissing gates’ along the footpaths on your way to tiny, centuries-old hamlets and traditional lively market towns, such as Ulverston and Keswick.
· Visit the traditional fell village of Caldbeck, where many of its old mill buildings, a testament to its glorious industrial past, are still in use.
· Stop at Hoad Monument – this concrete structure, built in 1850, commemorates statesman and local resident Sir John Barrow, and offers scenic views across Morecambe Bay.
· Fairly short distances covered each day, allowing for time to pause and admire the scenery; the route avoids upland areas, where navigation may become a problem in poor weather.
· Cosy handpicked accommodation throughout, including traditional pubs, rural family-owned guesthouses, as well as a Georgian townhouse
Or consider the Dales Way walking trail if the new film inspires you to explore the timeless landscapes of Peter Rabbit.
For more details and booking requests to explore Beatrix Potter’s Lake District, please contact our team of travel experts today.
Decide quick if you are planning to join a guided Coast to Coast walk this year.
If you were planning to join a guided walk on Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast path in 2018, we advise you to make a quick decision. Even before the exact dates for next year were announced, fellow walkers had already signed up for this popular walking holiday in the English Lake District.
Places on our guided Coast to Coast 2018 walks are selling out fast: the 18-day departure in May is on waiting list and we currently only have a couple of spots left for the 17-day departure in July/August. At the same time, we are happy to announce that in 2018 you can choose from four dates on the 15-day version of this stunning walk.
We hope that the below overview of all guided Coast to Coast walking holidays in 2018 comes in handy when planning your walking holiday for the coming summer.
Coast to Coast Guided Walk
15 days walking with departures on:
- 10 June – 24 June >> Guaranteed
- 15 July – 29 July
- 5 August – 19 August
- 9 September – 23 September
Coast to Coast Guided Explorer
17 days walking with a departure on:
- 29 July – 14 August >> limited availability
Coast to Coast Guided Rambler
18 days walking with a departure on:
- 6 May – 23 May >> waiting list
Individual walkers can choose from even more lengths to walk Wainwright’s Coast to Coast with durations between 8 to 18 days that depart between March until September. For more information, have a look at the complete overview of self guided walking holidays in the UK or contact our team of travel experts.