Pedometers at the ready! Won’t you come with us as we wander, wend and weave our way along these great British walking festivals?
With so much glorious countryside to explore across England, Wales and Scotland, we’re leaving the sedentary lifestyle behind and heading for the hills (or valleys, paths, fens and trails). Demand for walking holidays is on the up. Requests for how and where to walk in our destinations is also on the rise.
While we’re writing this in May, to chime with National Walking Month, we’ve got walking festivals for all seasons. So whether you’re a serious rambler, a happy hill hiker or just a curious explorer of the countryside, let’s put our best feet forward.
Isle of Wight Walking Festival explores the entirety of this chalky isle via 100+ trails. Established in 1998, this two week walking festival takes participants over and around the very best of island life from beaches and sand dunes to woodland walks and sprawling open countryside. All led by locals, there are new walks introduced every year as well as the round-the-island Isle of Wight Challenge and marathon-length Walk the Wight fundraiser.
The National Forest Walking Festival stretches across Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Covering land that was once grey with mining and industry, the National Forest has regenerated the area over the last 25 years by planting and nurturing ancient and new woodlands and farmland. See it, soak it up and support this unique initiative at their annual walking festival.
Kendal Walking Festival is a stunning and sociable way to get to know the South Lakes and the town of Kendal (mint cake optional). The infant of British walking festivals, despite its fledgling status it offers guided walks for all abilities and helpfully ranks each by difficulty and length. What better place to start than the hometown of our nation’s most famous walks author A Wainwright?
Suffolk Walking Festival is sponsored by one of our member agencies, Suffolk Secrets, who knows these parts intimately. Thinking outside the box a little, the festival celebrates the joy of walking alongside some less obvious ways to get out and about doing it. Walk with a sheep dog or with owls, or combine a walk with a jeep ride or cruise.
Wales Coast Path Walking Festival honours the creation of the Wales Coast Path back in 2012. A series of coastal walks, supported by Ramblers Cymru, are free to join. Choose from beach walks or stretches of the coastal path, to those themed around local history or even foraging.
WalkFest is the perfect excuse to head to the North York Moors over the second May bank holiday and take in 10 walking trails that celebrate the beauty of these parts. Discover ancient routes, coastal vistas, little known woodlands and a plethora of wildlife for whom this rugged wonderland is home.
Redcar and Cleveland’s Walking Festivals take place two or three times a year. See this fabulous landscape in all seasons (and weathers!) or rock up in June hoping for sun. In 2019 dedicated walks will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way National Trail.
High Weald Walking Festival began in 2018 with the aim of helping walkers of all abilities explore and learn about the historic High Weald landscape. Criss crossing the borders of Kent and East Sussex, the High Weald AONB captures the very essence of the Garden of England. Not only are all walks free of charge, there’s no need to book in advance – just turn up ready to roam. More than 30 walks stretch from coast to country, through woodland, past castles, over rocks and rivers, and through nature reserves.
Isle of Purbeck Walking Festival puts Dorset walking holidays on the map. What better way to explore the Jurassic Coast and the area’s Victorian seaside towns? Inland, discover Dorset’s rural serenity and you’ll soon appreciate why it’s a haven for rare wildlife as you wander footpaths and walking trails through heathland and the Arne nature reserve. This varied programme of walks is led by locals who live and love it here.
Sidmouth and East Devon Walking Festival promises to show you another side to Devon. Beyond the beaches and red rock cliffs, choose from one of three walks each day over this week long festival. Mix it up a bit with short, themed or special interest walks, longer walks taking in the coast and countryside, or the linear walks of the East Devon Way. The latter stretches some 40 miles from Lyme Regis to Exmouth. Alternatively, test your mettle on the newly created half marathon length Sid Valley Ring.
Put walking festivals on your bucket list.
See beyond the tourist office of your next destination. Make use of those Ordnance Survey maps in your holiday rental. Pack your walking boots and some comfy socks for a staycation full of energy, vistas and wellbeing!
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