It’s as if the Cotswolds were made for walking, with the option to admire the views from the hills or stick to the riverside paths in the valleys. And for solitude, there are plenty of hidden valleys and wide expanses of hilltops to escape the crowds. The Cotswolds has eight Walkers are Welcome towns, which means each has joined a national initiative to ensure their locales are attractive for walking, offering information on nearby walks and keeping footpaths and signposts well maintained. You’ll find many pubs and cafés bearing the Walkers are Welcome window sticker: feel confident that they will not mind your muddy boots and wet-weather gear.
Walking holidays are a huge draw to the Cotswolds © Garry Johnson
Recommended walk: Leach Valley
For an appealingly tranquil village-tovillage walk along country lanes and riverside footpaths, take a circular amble from the Eastleaches via Fyfield to the equally idyllic village of Southrop, where you can stop for something to eat at the Swan Inn. The valley here is at its quietest and arguably most scenic; by spending even a rewarding hour or two, you can get to grips with the rural aspect of the Leach.
Sussex and the South Downs are extraordinarily rich in good walks – author Tim Locke has written numerous walking guides in the past, and this area really stands out for walks worth travelling across the country to do. Somehow the excellent rights-of-way network and diversity of the scenery, and a good smattering of viewpoints and manmade and natural places to discover, all combine to make this high-quality walking terrain.
The Seven Sisters © Honourableandbold, Dreamstime.com
Recommended walk: Beachy Head & the Seven Sisters
Plenty of permutations exist here, from easy saunters lasting half an hour to more demanding explorations taking most of the day. Getting lost is not a problem, except in Friston Forest, where you’ll certainly need to follow an OS map.
Dorset’s varied countryside and coastline provide excellent opportunities for walking. The standout piece in Dorset’s repertoire is the hugely popular South West Coast Path, which combines heritage, flora, fauna, geology and spectacular coastal scenery. The UK’s longest national trail, it runs for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset’s east, tracing the coastlines of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset on the way. The Dorset section offers some of the most spectacular seaside scenery and the path provides access to the entire length of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which runs from east Devon to Old Harry Rocks, off Studland.
The Jurassic Coast is home to some of the UK's most spectacular scenery © John, Shutterstock
Recommended walk: Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
One of the most rewarding walks is the section between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, two of the most spectacular features within the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Durdle Door, a near perfect coastal arch of limestone rock, lies half a mile to the west of Lulworth Cove. The walk involves some moderately steep climbs along a remarkably well-preserved and photogenic section of coast.
Some imagine walks on Dartmoor to include waist-deep bogs negotiated in driving rain, and being lost for days in landmark-obscuring mists. But you'll be excessively pleased by the reality – strolls along tumbling brooks, walks through bluebell woods, striding out along a disused railway with the knowledge that it won’t suddenly take me up an energy-draining hill, and grassy paths up to tors with a 360-degree view.
© Visit Dartmoor
Recommended walk: Fingle Bridge and the Teign gorge
This 3½-mile ‘circular’ (oblong really) is one of the most popular walks on Dartmoor, taking you from the picturesque Fingle Bridge, south of Drewsteignton, along the Fisherman’s Path which hugs the north side of the River Teign, passing through deciduous woodland and mossy rocks. There are several places where you can swim in the deep pools of the river.
Norfolk abounds with walking potential, from linear coastal strolls to circular walks through forest and open farmland. The going is mostly easy and so walkers just need to decide how far they are prepared to walk if attempting a route. Any obstacles, such as they are, are limited to nuisances like overgrown nettles, hungry mosquitoes, obstructing herds of cows or the occasional recalcitrant bull. Otherwise, it’s ideal, especially when a walk takes in a country pub and/or an interesting village church to explore en route.
Berney Arms windmill © David Street, Great Yarmouth Tourism
Recommended walk: Berney Arms
From Berney Arms station, head along the Wherryman's Way to the Berney Arms, Norfolk's most isolated pub. From here, the Wherryman's Way continues south all the way to Great Yarmouth along the north shore of Breydon Water, a large tidal estuary, wonderful for birdwatchers and a great place to walk, although it is quite an austere landscape, especially at low tide when glistening grey mud stretches to the skyline.
The Yorkshire Wolds
Wolds walking is very different to hiking in the Dales or in the Lake District. It’s usually gentle, tending towards the potter or the ramble, rather than a scramble or clamber. What the area may lack in excitement it more than makes up for in its peace and quiet quotient. It’s very easy to have a day’s walk in the Wolds and not see another soul, especially if you wander off the paths in open access areas – ‘wild’ patches of land, not on the hill-tops as you might expect, but in the deep, dry valleys in between.
It's easy to walk on the Wolds and not encounter another soul © subtleflame
Recommended walk: Thixendale to Wharram Percy
This nine-mile route across the Wold and Centenary ways is typical Wolds fare, brilliant in places – where the path follows the bottom of narrow, steepsided valleys, and tedious when you end up on the flat, arable tops. See the Thixendale website for more walking options.
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