The self-guided walking holiday specialists at Celtic Trails have chosen a collection of ‘Significant Walks for 2019’, each with an extra compelling reason to undertake this year.
“With more people realising both the physical and mental health benefits of mindful walking, there has never been a better time to book yourself a walking holiday in the UK,” commented the managing director of Celtic Trails, Ben Cunningham.
“Not only is the break itself the perfect anecdote for a stressful lifestyle, the discipline of training and resetting fitness routines is another benefit of planning to hit some of Britain’s best trails this year. It’s been a really busy start to the year with bookings already I would recommend booking ahead or seeking some of the less popular but equalling stunning routes out there,” he added.
For example, walking the Offa’s Dyke typically reminds us all of the Saxon King Offa who ordered it to be built to discourage hostile Welsh Celtic tribes threatening his kingdom, 2019 heralds a new era of toll-free Severn Bridge crossings, meaning the journey to the starting point in Chepstow just got a little cheaper.
Meanwhile, in Cumbria, 2019 marks the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birth, and walkers following the Cumbria Way this year can expect to learn more about the Victorian reformer who lived at Brantwood overlooking Coniston Water. What’s more, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way in Yorkshire and offers walkers the chance to enjoy a quieter Northumberland Coast Path before the grand unveiling of the England Coast Path in 2020.
Below are Celtic Trails’ top five significant walks for 2019, with a 6x night holiday priced from £460pp. Each comes with the operator’s expert easy-to-follow route plans and pre-arranged luggage transfers.
Ding Dong the Severn Tolls are Gone. Offa’s Dyke Walking Path – England and Wales, 7-16 nights, 79-177 miles
While in reality it’s only a saving of £5.60, it feels like the Wye Valley and Offa’s Dyke just got a whole lot closer, and cheaper, thanks to the new toll-free bridge crossings into Wales.
The Offa’s Dyke follows the ancient earthworks that acted as border between England and Wales and runs for 177 miles from the Bristol Channel to the Irish Sea. Expect wonderful views over the Welsh and English countryside, walking through the Black mountains, the Welsh Marches of Herefordshire, Powys and Shropshire, the Berwyn Mountains and the broad grassy Clwydian Hills. Take time to stop at the Norman castles of White Castle and Chepstow along the way; marvel at the medieval abbeys of Tintern and Llanthony and peruse the bookshops, galleries and cafes of literary Hay-on-Wye.
7x nights walking 79 miles from Chepstow to Knighton is priced from £590pp based on two sharing on a B&B basis including luggage transfers throughout.
The Cleveland Way Celebrates its 50th Birthday- Yorkshire, England, 10-11 nights, 109 miles
The Cleveland Way National Trail has a milestone birthday this year and there will be plenty of local events to celebrate. An artist in residence has recently be appointed- landscape artist Debbie Loane from Easingwold- who is preparing a major exhibition of her work in the North Moors National Park, titled ‘109 Miles’.
The Cleveland Way offers a varied journey through the North York Moors National Park and Cleveland Heritage Coast, following a well structured, diverse route that stands to be one of the best walking experiences in England. Start the walk with the historic path from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey before climbing to 1,500 feet to take in the expansive Yorkshire landscape. From the moors, the route drops to converge with the coastal path, leading south along the rugged cliff top paths and bays of the Yorkshire coast. This is part of the Cleveland Heritage Coast, where the moors’ wild heather peers over the cliff edge. Pass through thre seaside towns of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, ending the walk on the coast at Filey, perhaps stopping off along the way for some of the finest fish and chips in the UK!
10x nights walking 109 miles from Helmsley to Filey is priced from £785pp based on two sharing on a B&B basis including luggage transfers throughout.
Learn more about John Ruskin in his Bicentenary Year on the Cumbria Way- England, 6-7 nights, 73 miles
Ruskin was a Victorian public figure, poet, leading art critic and notable artist as well as something of a revolutionary. Ahead of his time perhaps he campaigned on social issues, attacked the excesses of industrialisation and spoke up for the environment. Although born in London in 1819, his first visit to Cumbria was made when just five years old. He visited Friar’s Crag (his now-memorial) and later lived at Brantwood on Coniston Water.
The Cumbria Way is a trail with a near perfect balance of terrain and scenery. Predominantly a low-level long distance footpath, it follows a line through lovely steep sided valleys through the heart of the Lake District National Park with walking alongside Derwent and Coniston Water and time to visit Brantwood, Ruskin’s home there. Each day, the diverse landscape which will have you reaching for your camera. From days spent walking in the lowlands, through to pastoral Cumbrian farmland, the heather-covered Cumbrian fells reveal stunning panoramas offering beautiful views of the landscape. Along the way nights will be spent in charming towns like Caldbeck or Keswick- a historic market town in a spectacular mountain setting.
6x nights walking 73 miles from Ulverston to Carlise is priced from £540pp based on two sharing on a B&B basis including luggage transfers throughout.
Walk the Northumberland Coast Path Section of the England Coast Path Before 2020 Launch, 5-7 nights, 62-64 miles
The 2,800 mile England Coast Path is on track to launch next year, which will make it the longest managed and waymarked coastal path in the world on completion. If you want to get cracking with notching up those miles on some of the existing paths then stride out on to the Northumberland Coast a year early, for one of England’s finest unspoilt coastal stretches, with dramatic castles on rocky outcrops and the picturesque coastal villages.
The Northumberland Coast Path begins in the south at Creswell (nr Morpeth) and finishes at Berwick-upon-Tweed-on the Scottish border. It meanders past golden dunes, sea bird colonies (particularly offshore on the Farne Islands- a worthwhile detour), nature reserves and stunning cliff scenery. Marvel at the formidable masses of ancient castles at Warkworth, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh- a romantic ruin jutting into the crashing waves. Slow down to enjoy the attractive coastal villages of Alnmouth, Boulmer and Seahouses, as well as the unspoilt old harbours at St Abbs and Craster- be sure not to miss a smoked kipper supper in Craster!
6x nights walking 62 miles from Alnmouth to Berwick-upon-Tweed is priced from £460pp based on two sharing, B&B basis including luggage transfers.
Walk a Lesser-Known Section of the Wales Coast Path- the Meirionnydd Coast Path, Wales, 6-7 nights, 60 miles
The Meirionnydd Coast Path forms one of the wildest and more remote section of the Wales Coast Path. It traces a course around Snowdonia National Park, along the coast where Cadair Idris towers over the horizon. This route is far less populated than other routes along the Welsh coast so, with that in mind, take a packed lunch from your hosts and anything else that you would usually buy en-route.
The Meirionnydd Coast Path with numerous sites of historical interest built into the coasts rocky outcrop. Tiny churches and beaches lie cradled among the rocks and dunes as the path opens up and slopes beside the sea. This trail links famous sites such as Harlech Castle, with prehistoric monuments dotted along the coastline- here we have a region unchanged, with an unbroken link across Welsh history. Along the route, walkers will have the option of visiting the famous Italianate Welsh town of Portmeirion. The route crosses paths with estuaries, small fishing villages and miles of sandy beaches (including Barmouth) and typically steers a close course to the shore, with the exception of where the trail diverts inland to finish at Machynlleth- the site of Owain Glyndŵr’s coronation.
6x nights walking 60 miles from Porthmadog to Machynlleth is priced from £545pp based on two sharing on a B&B basis including luggage transfers.
For more information, or to book any of Celtic Trails’ walking holidays, please call 01291 689774 or visit www.celtictrailswalkingholidays.co.uk.