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June 2021: Orthopaedic experts FootActive has analysed the UK’s top 30 walking locations to compile a list of the best UK walking holidays of 2021 based on walking difficulty and distance, proximity to somewhere to stay, plus how photogenic the location is because if you didn’t Instagram it, did it even count? You can view the full campaign here

Staycations and UK explorations are the summer holiday plans of 2021. As lockdown eases, many UK residents are wary of going on their usual jet setting summer holidays with COVID transmission fears and the cost of quarantine when returning to home discouraging Brits from booking trips away. But, instead of this being a damper on your summer holiday plans, you can instead visit somewhere much closer to home and embrace the wonder of the British countryside while doing so. 

Top Five UK Walking Holiday Destinations 2021 

Ranking the top 30 UK walking holiday hot spots, it’s fantastic to see a wide range of locations and types take the top-ranking positions, from coastal paths to woodland explorations. Did your favourite walk make the full ranking? The analysis revealed the top five walking holiday destinations to be: 

RankWalkRegionDistance (Miles)DifficultyNo. of hotelsInstagram #’s
1South Downs WaySouth East England100.7Moderate514062,014
2Cannock ChaseWest Midlands11.9Moderate3312127,154
3West Highland WayScotland95.8Moderate1049108,961
4Offa’s Dyke PathWales172.7Moderate2052102
5The Ridgeway National TrailSouth East England85.7Moderate4236556

The top location, the South Downs Way which stretches across Winchester and Eastbourne, is pitched as the best location for families and hikers alike looking to get back to nature this summer and explore the great British countryside. With over 100 miles to explore, the South Downs Way allows visitors to take unnatural highlights including The Seven Sisters, Beachy Head, Devil’s Dyke, Jack and Jill Windmills, Ditchling Beacon and Chanctonbury Ring – making it an Instagram hotspot! 

Instagram: @discover_sussex

This natural haven has an incredible 127,154 hashtagged posts on Instagram (or 1,262 per mile), proving that a UK walking holiday can still provide quality summer social media content – say goodbye to hot dogs or legs, this summer it’s all about the coastal path snap! Plus, with 5,140 hotels and BnBs in the local area, you’ll be able to relax in style and comfort after a great day of walking.

If you’d like to take the full 100.7 miles of the South Downs Way on, it would take an active walker who can take on 10 miles a day, just over 10 days to complete the full stretch! 

Instagram: @discover_sussex

Popularity for UK walking holidays is on the rise, as Google Trends analysis identified an over 2,000% rise in searches for “walking holidays” in the UK since the start of 2021. This makes finding the perfect walking holiday location for your walking needs even more of a  priority for the summer of 2021 so you can have the best trip possible. 

Longest Walks: Keen Hikers “Must Walks”   

WalkRegionDistance (Miles)Average time to hike
Offa’s Dyke PathWales172.712 days
Anglesey Coastal WalkWales129.96 hours
Fife Coastal PathScotland108.77-10 days
South Downs WaySouth East England100.710 days
West Highland WayScotland95.89-10 hours

For the keen walkers amongst us who fancy more of a challenge, the most popular UK walks with the most miles available are predominantly found in Welsh and Scottish nature reserves, with Wales’ Offa’s Dyke Path offering a scenic walk through rolling Welsh hills, or conversely, Scotland’s Fife Coastal Path demonstrating the rugged beauty of the Scottish coast. 

Easiest Walks: Family Walking Trip Best Bets 

WalkRegionDistance (Miles)
White Cliffs of DoverSouth East England9.8
Bradgate ParkEast Midlands10.6
Rye Harbour and Camber SandsSouth East England10.8
Durham Coastal PathNorth East England11.2
Liverpool CanalYorkshire & The Humber15.9

The analysis also took on board the difficulty rating of each walk, and the above table notes the top five easiest walks, perfect for newcomers to walking holidays, or families looking for the perfect active staycation.

Instagram: @girl.aboutkent

Head to the White Cliffs of Dover for a fantastic family day out and take in the breathtaking views of this British landmark. If your legs are feeling strong, you can walk the length of the iconic cliffs, taking just under four hours to complete. Or, if a more gentle approach is required, a stroll along the coast path can easily be followed by a meal or a crisp pint at one of Dover’s many pubs and restaurants.  

Best Pubs and Restaurants (according to TripAdvisor):

  • National Trust Visitor Centre Cafe
  • The White Horse
  • Namaste
  • Aspendos Dover
  • The Happy Chef

To see the full list look here.

Commenting on the research, William Munro, Director at FootActive: 

“It’s fantastic to see this research highlighting the range of natural walking spots we have across the country and the joy they can bring to avid walkers and families alike this summer. It’s especially interesting to see the interest for walking holidays soaring and we welcome the nation embracing local holiday opportunities or active walking breaks which are perfect for relaxing with friends and family, unwinding and getting back to nature. 

Incorporating an element of walking or activity into your holiday is a great way to maintain a healthy balance and mindset while you’re away. Plus, walking is the perfect activity for burning off some energy while also remaining calm and relaxed – not to mention the opportunity to see some of the UK’s most awe-inspiring views which you can only access by foot!” 

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