We’ve said it before - a walking holiday is a tremendously rich way to experience a new locale. Not only are you decreasing your carbon footprint, but you’re able to get as close as possible to the sights, scenes and culture of your chosen destination. You’re getting exercise, fresh air and seeing inspiring sights - perhaps even make a new friend or two along the way. 

The United Kingdom and Wales seem tailor-made for walking holidays. There are miles of untamed coastal tracks to explore, idyllic harbor towns and cute-as-a-button villages to explore. What’s more, there’s something for every interest and ability level. 

Here are favorite choices for a spectacular walking vacation in the UK and Wales, including some multi-day treks and two that are glorious for a sunny morning or afternoon: 

North Highland Way, Orkney Islands 

Distance: Up to 14 miles per day

Terrain: Moderate, with varying terrain and trails. Includes moorlands, grassy paths, sandy beaches and rough, rugged or steep sections. Requires a good level of fitness.

For birding, wildlife viewing, soft sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and a hefty dose of Viking history, Scotland’s Orkney Islands is your best bet. Look for puffins, red deer and golden eagles. Tuck into plates of fresh, hand-dived scallops. Warm up by the fire in a traditional pub. And go back in time at several Neolithic-era UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Cornwall, England

Photo by Pascal Büchel on Unsplash

Distance: Up to 5 hours of walking per day.  

Terrain: Moderate, rolling terrain. Some ascent each day. Regular walkers will not find this route challenging. 

Fill up on world-famous pasties and scones with clotted cream and jam, then head out to explore the Cornish coastline. There is a stunning variety of landscape to cover, from the cobbled causeway of St. Michael’s Mount to the serpentine cliffs of Lizard. Discover the Land’s End Peninsula or tackle the historic Cornish Saints’ Way, a 27-mile pilgrimage trail. Fancy yourself in a Bronte novel as you traipse across the moors of West Cornwall, discovering Stone Age dolmen and Iron Age Villages. Don’t miss the Lost Gardens of Heligan and a fresh seafood lunch in the fishing village of Mevagissey. 

Gower Peninsula, Wales

Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

Distance: 3-6 miles per day

Terrain: Moderate. Includes ascents to clifftops and descents to beaches. Reasonable level of fitness required. 

The Gower Peninsula’s designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty speaks for itself - surround yourself with the region’s beautiful beaches and heather-clad moors, in view of the rugged sea. You’ll be captivated from start to finish as you follow the southwest coastline across the silky sands of Three Cliffs Bay. Look for rare flora and birds such as oystercatchers and turnstones at Whiteford Burrows Nature Reserve. Marvel at the beguiling beauty of Worm’s Head (meaning “dragon” or “serpent” in Norse), the most westerly point of the peninsula. 

St. David’s Head, Wales 

Distance: 3.8 miles, 90-minute walk at a leisurely pace (excellent for a morning or afternoon outing)

Terrain: Moderate

Showcasing an iconic British seascape, St. David’s Head is found on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales. The headland was created from ancient volcanic rock and sits just a few miles from St. David, which is the smallest city in Wales. The path extends from the Whitesands parking lot and takes in several prehistoric monuments along the way, including a 4,000-year-old burial chamber. Keep an eye out for an array of coastal wildlife, birds such as stonechat, meadow pipit and skylark and, perhaps, dolphins out at sea. 

Cwm Llwch

Photo by Yousef Salhamoud on Unsplash

Distance: 4.9 miles, approximately 5 hours

Terrain: Challenging

If you’re in Wales and hoping to break a sweat, tackle the summit trail to the top of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in Britain. You’ll pass the legendary Llyn Cwn Llwch, a glacial lake from the last ice age. Watch closely - the story goes that it is enchanted by fairies. 

Ready to lace up your walking shoes? Let’s chat. Looking for more ideas? See our Walks in the Orkney Islands and Spectacular Walks in the Shetland Islands blog posts. 

Are you actively seeking engaging, meaningful, up-close encounters with the wonders of nature and culture? Let’s talk small-ship cruise vacations.