3-day walk in the UK, late May?

Starting to plan for 2014. We may have 3 or 4 extra days at the beginning before meeting up with others. I have always wanted to do a village to village walk in the UK. We won't have time for a whole long-distance path, but I wonder if there's a short section of one we could reasonably do in that time, with good public transport to the start and finish ( covering 12 to 16 miles a day). This will be late May so we don't want to go too far north. Can anyone help with info or suggestions on Cumbria Way, Offa's Dyke Path, Glyndwrs Way, Cleveland Way, or other? We have walked a bit of the Cotswolds so am looking for something different. We don't mind hilly terrain and are mainly looking for great scenery. Or for that short time would be better off basing in one place and doing walks from there? Would York work for that? Have never been there and would like to see it. Or someplace in Wales? Thanks for your help.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Lola, I'm a bit surprised that you haven't had any replies so far. I don't have much experience with the type of walking tour you mentioned, but I know people that like that sort of thing. Would something like this work: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/hadrianswall/ You may be able to find a short section of trail on that website that might work for you. Hopefully you'll get some replies soon. Cheers!

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Hi Lola I was going to answer yesterday, but the day was filled with taking my daughter to London for her birthday treat (Globe Theatre, National Gallery, a play with Judi Dench in the afternoon, yet home to sleep in my own bed; can't express how fortunate I feel to live here). But I digress. Here's a couple of ideas. 1. The Peddars Way, in north Norfolk. I went to school in Norfolk and although I can understand why it's overlooked by overseas tourists (it is rather off the beaten track), that's a shame. See this website for details, including how to plan multi-day walks. There are some lovely coastal villages on route: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/peddarsway/ 2. The South Downs Way, in Sussex and Hampshire. This looks slightly less easy to do village to village walks, but the scenery is lovely. Planning tips on the site: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/southdowns/ 3. The North Downs Way (and see also reference to St. Swithun's Way on this website): http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/northdowns/text.asp?pageId=77

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Okay, okay, I'm here but working off a damn phone while traveling. I was trying to put it off for a couple of days. Bear in mind that I'm weak on walking in England, but I'll only discuss what I've done instead of guessing. Also, advance planning for public transportation is one of the mysteries of life, so I either get somebody to help preposition a car or do the best I can at a ticket window. Not sure which Coast-to-Coast is under discussion, but there's a neat one in Cornwall that's good for bragging rights - - it's maybe ten miles, so you can walk it back and forth in a day. You can build all kinds of loops in Dartmore and the Brecons so you don't need public transportation. Given my druthers, it'd be the Brecons since there's more elevation change and it's more desolate. Hopping to Wales: I lack about eighty miles of walking the perimeter - - which problem to be fixed in the next couple of weeks. The best/most spectacular of what's now the entire coastal path starts up the south/west/left (?) side of Cardigan Bay and continues to Pwll y Wrach where you cut inland to head back to Cardigan. You can cut early at Ceibwr if you want a shorter jog. A pretty good easy one is the other side of Cardigan Bay out to abeam the island which I don't know the name of - - that's maybe ten miles total. The Dyke path has given me fits because I keep going off on tangents when I think I can smell a pub. Look at the area around the little town of Chirk and five miles north and south. You can also entertain yourself for a week working out of Conwy, either along the coast or out-and-backs on the north end of the Dkye path. The walk along the south bank of the Menai Strait ain't that shabby either - - there's bound to be buses/trains between Caernarvon and Bangor.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Now, for when you get your gumption up: Cape Wrath Trail - - unmarked, river crossings, enough elevation change to gag a maggot, 200 miles headed north out of Fort William until you run out of dirt, roll up and sleep when you're tired. I through-walked it, am conceited, should have allowed more time, and it whipped my butt. Back to England: I've done a lot of narrowboats on the canals. Something I've toyed with, but never done much of except when the laggards were still asleep, was making a project of hiking some of the BW towpaths. If Whats-His-Face stumbles back along, I think he has, and maybe he could give some of his twisted insight.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

Happy birthday to the daughter, Kevin!!! That sounds like quite the day (and night) out. It must have been a big birthday.... Lola, sorry I can't really help since my walking is so much different to yours. I hope that you get your answers and can have a great time. Have you looked at the Ramblers society? They really put in the miles and have a very good network. I wonder if Pensacola Ed will weigh in with experiences. I know he has done several long distance walks here.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Thank you Kevin, and Happy Birthday to your daughter. So fortunate to see Judy Dench in person! I will check out your suggestions. Peddlars' Way and South Downs Way both sound good. The problem I am having is the "spoiled for choice" dilemma. Too many good options! And yes, Nigel,,I am hoping to hear from Ed as I know he has done some UK walking and knows Wales particularly well. I also recall he does not favor Hadrian's Wall but that is ot on my list anyway. Looking for something easier in terms of getting there and back, and tougher/more varied in terms of scenery. We'd do the whole Coast to Coast Walk if we had the time, but that will have to be another trip. I am using this one as a scouting trip to check out options for a longer (6-8 days) walk.

Posted by Aiken
High Wycombe, Bucks, United Kingdom
37 posts

Little bit of home county bias here but the Chilterns Ridgeway is a great walk: if you start at Ivinghoe Beacon you get incredible views and loads of nature, and some lovely little towns as you go south. To get to the start, go to Dunstable - prob via Luton - and get a taxi to the Beacon. Get to the top & take pics of the chalk lion on the hillside at Whipsnade, then hike towards the SW. For the distance you're looking at, instead of turning south at Mongefield, head west into Wallingford & get the bus to Oxford, then the train either into London or Birmingham depending on where you're staying after. You don't say which days you're looking at so I shall assume you're not starting or ending on a Sunday as if so, most places on the trail are not so easy to get to by public transport. But check out the site & see if it grabs you: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway/index.asp?PageId=1
There are, naturally, loads of pubs on or near to the path :)

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Another alternative would be Scotland. There is a probably a portion of one of the long distance walks, but I've not done that hike. Here's a great website. I have done walks based out of the Inverness area, specifically Strathpeffer. We would walk in the West, Ullapool area, Torridon, Gairloch, or south of Inverness in the Cairngorms, or in the central area, Glen Affric. I think that Glen Affric and Beauly is what I would most recommend. It's stunning and would offer a lot of variety. Pam

Posted by Stacy
Connecticut
98 posts

Hi Lola, We will be walking a portion of Offa's Dyke in a few weeks, so I can give you more information after that. We have walked Hadrian's Wall, and although it's pretty far north, public transportation is easy. (Train to Newcastle and/or Carlisle; #122 bus follows the entire trail.) You could walk from the village of Ovingham to Hexham in a day, with a stop at Roman ruins, and then to Twice Brewed and/or Haltwhistle. All lovely towns, and the walk has some breathtaking scenery and is challenging, but not overly so. (Except Twice Brewed is a pub in the middle of nowhere, but...fun!) It's true you have LOTS to choose from. Have fun deciding.
Stacy

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Fantastic- thank you! This is exactly what I was hoping for. Pam I think Scotland will be a bit far for this trip, so I will have to save the Highlands for another trip. I plan to arrive at Heathrow on a Wednesday ( or better yet Tuesday if I can get the flights) and we will probably have to leave from Heathrow on Saturday to meet the rest of the family in Berlin. At least that is how it looks now. So we want to stay fairly close to LHR, meaning Cornwall, art moor, Wales, or Ridgeway would all work, but not Hadrian's Wall, the Highlands, or Yorkshire on this trip. Ed- Cape Wraith trail is probably a bit more adventurous than I can face at my advanced age, but the Brecon Beacons look great. Never heard of it before this. They get a good write up on the " Waling Britain" website I keep checking. I have some books and maps for Wales already so I will look further. Aiken- the Ridgeway is on my original list; I have a book and maps for that one too, and was thinking of the western part which can be done on a mountain bike. That might be for another time too, as we have friends who would join us for a cycling tour but not for walking (knee issues). Stacy- I will look forward to your trip report on Offa's Dyke Path. If there are enough pubs there to sidetrack Ed it must be a fun walk. And if you don't write a trip report, will you PM me with your thoughts in the walk?

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2900 posts

There is a book by Time Out (Time Out Country Walks) which has some nice routes that can be easily reached from London. The walks are designed as day trips though rather than village to village walks. The book includes info on public transportation to/from London and pubs along the route where you can stop for lunch. If you go to the London Saturday Walkers Club website, they also have a lot of walks not far from London with info, as well as other resources.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

This might not be what you are looking for, but we have used Contour Walking Holidays (www.contours.co.uk), as a way of organising the accommodation/luggage transport whilst walking ourselves for a few days. We last did this on the Northumberland Coastal Path and I can recommend both the route (fairly gentle, wonderful scenery), and the company for its organisation. It isn't a "group hike", you can walk with others if you want, or just meet up at a pub along the way for lunch, or entirely ignore most of the others. Alternatively, I'm biased, but if you want to arrange your own three day walk, you might want to try one of the Dales Way routes which are easy to plan between the various villages - quite a few companies will also organise luggage transfer if that is what you prefer.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Laura, thank you for the suggestion. I will order that book for future reference. For the 2014 trip we hope to get out of London for a few days before moving on to Berlin. But since we always fly through LHR, and spend a couple days in London either coming or going, this book will come in very handy.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
645 posts

Hi Lola, You may enjoy the Thames Path alongside (obviously) the River Thames. Many walkers head west from London, but there are some ugly industrial areas on the outskirts of the city, so I skipped this part. You can go out to Hampton Court and start there, or go to Windsor and start there. We started our walk in Windsor because we had stayed in London 5 days and then moved to a hotel in Windsor for 2 days. There it begins to be more of a country walk. Use this map and website to decide how far you want to hike: http://www.fellwalk.co.uk/thamespath.htm There are great pubs along the way, and some of them are also inns. If you go all the way to the source of the Thames, it's just a trickle coming out of the ground. At the last 2 stops before the source, Cricklade and Ashton Keynes, the Thames is just a stream. (There are 2 nice B&B's there. PM me if you want the names.) IMHO, just Windsor to Oxford would be a good walk.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

More great suggestions-thank you! Keith, I have come across Contour as a recommended company that offers self-guided walks with luggage transport. I was looking at other areas than the Dales, but could only find longer walks, like 6 days or more. I bet if I contacted them they could arrange a custom trip for a shorter time, so I will look into that. Rebecca, you must be a mindreader as I have the book and maps on the Thames Path. I particularly want to do a section that passes through Henley-on-Thames, as my husband is a rower. I feel like we want something a bit more remote, and off the pavement for this particular trip, but I will look harder at the Thames path, as it certainly would be the most convenient to reach for a short walk. We will be there this September as well, so maybe we will check the section around Oxford on our full day in London. And I'll check out the upper section in my book. If it looks appealing, I'll message you for lodging suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by richard
Yorkshire
276 posts

Hi, check the sherpavan site.It has arun down on lots of the national trailss,and runsbaggage transfers. On. Waiinwrights Coast to coast would be a good choice,its a popular eough one. to bee social.Shap..to St. Bees,wulld be about4day Whitehaven also haas 2interestng US connctions.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
645 posts

Lola, Another great walk crosses the Thames not too far from Henley. The Ridgeway Path crosses at Goring. The Ridgeway Path then leaves the Thames and heads out into the open countryside, ending up in Avebury. You could do a walk that followed the Thames path through Henley, then when the Ridgeway crosses the Thames Path, take that.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Thanks again, Rebecca. See what I mean when I said I am spoiled for choice? So many great hikes, and I have to choose! I am going to try to get some friends to join us when we do the longer walk, in 2015, but they are diminishing in numbers- too many knee replacements and hip replacements in the group. That is what too many marathons will do to you. My husband is afraid he's next, so we have to get as much walking in while he still can. It sounds like the Thames Path- Ridgeway combo might offer the variety and ambiance that would interest my husband. So I could check that out in September when we are there. And then I'd save Wales and the Highlands for 2015, and plan an all-UK trip.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

News just in of a massive landslip on the South West Coast Path in Dorset. It has removed some of the Path and caused significant disruption to that area of the Path. The location is St Oswolds Bay. Just in, on the 6 o'clock BBC news.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

That's about 30 miles west of here, between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. We go there at least once every summer and it's a fantastic path, extremely steep with gorgeous scenery and extremely busy thanks to the large car park, chip shop, ice cream parlours etc at Lulworth (and a shop selling country wines, by the way, worth looking in if you have never tried mead or fruit wines or the very dry and surprising oak leaf wine). But I digress. Fortunately the landslide was in the middle of the night, so no one was hurt. Last year there was a 100 ton rock fall a bit further along the coast, at West Bay I think, and a woman was killed on the beach.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

Lola, I have a book that talks about Offa's Dyke Path section by section. I will try to find the title if you are interested. I hope it is still in print as I got it almost 20 years ago. There are lovely B & B's and farm stays along the path. I stayed on a farm near Montgomeryshire and it was so lovely and quiet.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1634 posts

The Yorkshire Wolds Way....The walk begins near the Humber Bridge and ends at Filey Brigg. During the 76 miles you walk through lots of lovely woodland, cross or walk through numerous delightful dales and visit a number of delightful villages, one of them deserted! Oh, and you see a lot of white stone on this unique chalk walk. How much of the Cotswold Way did you walk? My friend who lives in Kirkland and I are planning our trip for 2014, we are going to walk the Cotswold Way.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Whoa---sorry to hear about the landslide. We here in the Puget Sound area are all too familiar with coastal landslides----we had one on Whidbey island last winter that took out some homes, but fortunately no one was hurt. Robin---76 miles on the Yorkshire Wolds Way would be too much for 3 days, but if we can stretch it to 4 I'll have a look. At this point, after looking at lots of photos, I find the two Wales walks, Offa's Dyke Path and Glyndwr's Way, the most appealing in term of terrain and scenery. But I don't know if I can piece out a 3-day walk. Laurie, if you find the name of that book on Offa's Dyke path let me know. I can search for it too; Amazon often has such books in the used books area.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

Lola, the book is "A Guide to Offa's Dyke Path" by Christopher John Wright. It was reprinted in 1990 and is a Constable Guide. It is book of detail maps of the entire path.