The Slow Ways walking network isn’t just about creating an important national infrastructure; sometimes it can just be about having a nice time
If you fancy a holiday and don’t want to stray too far afield, here are some walks to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace by holidaymakers. You might not use these for transport purposes, but there is value in enjoyment and leisure. That’s not to say they’re all easy; some of these are long routes. But if it’s a serene hike you’re after, they’re there for you, having been reviewed by our trailblazing volunteers.
In the true spirit of the “staycation”, we’ve selected walks spread out over the country, in case you’re only looking for a day trip.
The following twelve destination walks were selected for their enjoyment potential by Slow Ways staff and volunteers.
Clova to Auchronie on Cloauc one: It’s impossible to choose just one walk for the huge area which is the Highlands… so here’s two. Those who seek a little adventure might take a walk in Jo Bennie’s shoes. In Jo’s winter walking piece, she enjoyed an overnight stay in a bothy during some treacherous conditions. This walk may only suited to those who have undertaken some training first.
Braemar to Clova on Braclo one: If you’re not quite ready for winter adventures yet, Jo also reviewed the Braemar to Clova route in warmer times. With options for bothy stays or wild camping, this Cairngorm expedition is definitely one for the bucket list.
Troon to Prestwick on Tropre one: If an overnight trek in the Highlands isn’t your idea of a relaxing holiday, Tropre makes our pick for a walk in urban Scotland. As Slow Ways Chief Technologist, Darren Moore, puts it in his review, in just four miles, this beautiful seaside walk 30 miles south of Glasgow takes in views of the isle of Arran, a choice of sand dunes or accessible paths, and “the UK’s finest ice cream parlour at Mancini’s”.
A favourite conversation topic of university students everywhere: where exactly does the North begin? For that reason, we’ll have to avoid nominating a lovely walk from Beeston into Nottingham.
Horton to Settle on Horset one: Instead, let’s go safely north to the Yorkshire Dales, where you can’t beat the trip between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Settle. If it’s a particularly hot day, you can dive into Stainforth Force, a gorgeous waterfall which creates a deep and very cooling pool at the bottom. There’s a great campsite in Horton (You could maybe even fit in a walk up Pen-y-Ghent before starting, described on the park’s website as “a Yorkshire classic and many people’s first peak”) and railway stations at both ends.
Edale to Hathersage on Edahat one: Meanwhile in the Peak District, England’s first National Park and the historic site of the Kinder Trespass, a world of wonder awaits. Both ends of this Slow Way feature a gorgeous countryside railway station where trains pass on their way between Manchester and Sheffield. There’s also a hostel at YHA Edale which, as your author can personally guarantee, is of the highest quality. Your author can also attest to the incredible quality and quantity of food you get at the Nag’s Head in Edale village. A slight detour could take you down to YHA Castleton if you prefer your overnight stay to happen in the middle of the walk. The walk itself will take in a number of historic peaks, so get your boots on and gear up for some hill-walking.
[Reader suggestion: Hugh Hudson, who has reviewed many of the Peak District routes, suggests that walking Edale to Hayfield may be more exciting, as it takes in a number of the Peaks’ famous… er, peaks. He’s probably not wrong, however this would mean reaching New Mills for the railway connection.]
Patterdale to Ambleside on Ambpat one: Probably England’s most picturesque area and with the name to show for it, the Lake District is well blessed with hostels (particularly YHA) and campsites (including some fancy National Trust offerings) so a walking holiday is well provided for. Ambleside and Patterdale both feature cosy hostels perfect for that kind of getaway. This eight-mile route will certainly feature lots of ups and downs. Alfred Wainwright would be proud!
The Midlands and South of England:
Smethwick to Oldbury (Sandwell) on Oldsme one: Further down into England, it’s time for a proper urban walk. If you find yourself in Birmingham, you could do worse than this canal-side walk recommended by Saira and many volunteers. If you like post-industrial scenery, this three-miler is not to be missed.
Portishead to Bristol on Porbri two: A similar walk down in the south-west. This one, however, is twelve miles long, and takes in iconic sights including the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Darren and Dan Raven-Ellison both gave it five stars.
Camden Town to Wood Green on Camwoo one: A London walk can be brilliant; as short as you want it to be, bookended by world-class public transport, well served by facilities, and full of both the history and the hustle we expect from the capital. There are any number of great options, but Camwoo makes it as our choice. Darren and Saira both loved this six-mile route, with its amazing views of the modern city as well as a stretch beside Highgate Cemetery, where historic figures including Karl Marx are buried.
Leigh-on-Sea to Southend-on-sea on Leigsou one: Just east of London lies a typical British seaside experience, where this four mile route goes between two railway stations and offers plenty of pubs and chippies to make that four miles last a lot longer than it needs to.
Aberystwyth to Machynlleth on Abemac one: The Land of Song is perhaps at its best in its mountains and its coast. Up in the foothills of Eryri/Snowdonia, you’ll find the picturesque village of Machynlleth packed with independent shops and innovators in the renewable energy sector, thanks to the nearby Centre for Alternative Technology. Twenty miles from there is the glorious seaside town of Aberystwyth with its university, old-school seaside pier complete with nightclub and funicular railway. And would you believe it, there is a fully-checked Slow Way between the two as well as a well-served railway.
Llantwit Major to Barry on Llabar one: Completing the Welsh Coastal Path is a goal many walkers have aimed for in recent years, but most of it is yet to be verified as Slow Ways routes. Not so for this twelve mile stretch, which takes in the famous Barry Island and passes Cardiff Airport on the way to Llantwit Major. With sea views and railway stations at both ends, why not head down for a day out?
Do you know of any fantastic routes worth making a trip to? Perhaps you know a good walk in Wales that starts and ends with a castle? Sign up, walk it, upload it as a Slow Ways route if it’s not there already, and make sure to review it to verify it. Make sure to tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Maybe next time we do this list, we will be able to feature a wider variety of routes as more parts of the network become verified.