22 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 3 - Moderate to Challenging

Walking Rural Britain

Odyssey's walking tour of Rural Britain is designed to introduce active participants to the incredible variety of walks across Britain. It provides the active traveller with an opportunity to enjoy some of Britain's best walks.


Walking Rural Britain itinerary

On this 22 day fully escorted small group program we enjoy walks in Kent, Cornwall, and on the Welsh/English borders. You also spend 4 days in the Lake District and then head up to the Scottish borders. In Scotland, we have included a day out walking on Arran Island. During your time on Arran you can see the Stone Age monuments at Machrie Moor. From Scotland, the walking tour moves to the east coast. You travel first to Durham and then continue south to finish with walks around Norfolk from our base in Norwich.

During this tour the travel pattern is 2 days of walks, based from the one hotel. This is followed by a day travelling to the next location. Odyssey makes your "travel days" interesting by stopping at cultural and historic sites along the way to our next destination. Experienced professional guides lead most of the walks. This allows you to learn about the local landscapes and regional history as you walk.

On this tour the walks chosen for you are in National Parks or places designated as areas of outstanding beauty. Included in this list are Arran, in Scotland, the Brecon-Monmouth Canal in Wales and a section of Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland. So this small group walking tour of rural Britain selects walks that are pleasant rambles through some of the best scenery that Britain has to offer. A good level of fitness is required as each walk takes 3-4 hours. Occasionally, as with Pe y Fan in South Wales and Loughrigg Terrace in the Lakes District, the going can become more demanding physically. The Odyssey Tour Leader, however is there to ensure the activities are manageable for participants.

Walking tour Highlights 

Highlights of the walking tour of rural Britain include visiting several classic, picture-postcard British sites including locations such as the White Cliffs of Dover, the Norfolk Broads, and the Lake District. Finally during your time in South Wales you may enjoy views from the Brecon Beacons to the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal. Occasionally your walks have an ecclesiastical finish such as the one at the ruins of Whitby Abbey or the ancient, but living, Canterbury Cathedral.

The Walking tour of rural Britain has been offered for a number of years to the active mature walker. As a result, this is a holiday program that appeals to a senior couple or solo travellers who enjoy a good walk. The total number of participants in this tour will be 12 or fewer with the addition of an Odyssey program leader.

Roaming Rural Britain

For more details on Walking Rural Britain, small group history tours for mature travellers please click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

You may wish to read these articles on footwear for walkers and this article Walking tours – tips for mature travellers 

If you'd like to learn more about touring Great Britain, read our blog post here!

If you're interested in travelling alone, check out Odyssey's guide to solo travelling!

And read these recently published blogs on;

Travel tips for mature travellers part one

Travel tips for mature travelers part two

Tour Notes
  • Group size is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

See classic sites of Britain including the White Cliffs of Dover, the Norfolk Broads, and the Lake District.
Visit Arran Island with its immense diversity of landforms and human history.
Enjoy the diverse landscapes of South Wales with views from the Brecon Beacons to the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal.
Follow some of the great walking tracks of Britain, including Hadrian’s Wall, the South West Coast Path, and the South Downs Way.
Take walks with ecclesiastical endings, one at the ruins of Whitby Abbey, the other at the ancient but living Canterbury Cathedral.

Overview: Upon arrival at our hotel in London, we will have a late afternoon introduction to the tour, followed by a welcome dinner.

Accommodation: London Lodge Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we travel to Kent. Historically England had many of its contacts with the Continent from this southeastern part of the country adjacent to the English Channel, including landings by Celtic tribesmen and the Romans. This coastline was also a favoured territory for smugglers and was extremely significant in both World War I and II.

We will start our first walk on a section of the North Downs Way between Chilham and Canterbury city.  The North Downs Way is a footpath 200 kilometres long that runs south of London between Farnham and Dover, passing through woods and agricultural lands. One of its branches is through the city of Canterbury and parts of this route correspond with the Pilgrims Way. Chalk ridges run through much of the land with spectacular exposure at coastal Dover and The Seven Sisters.

The name Downs refers to the rolling grassy hills in this part of England allowing cattle and sheep farming. Hop gardens used to be popular, producing an ingredient for beer making, and while this culture has now disappeared the oast houses, used to dry hops, may still be found in Kent.

We will have time at the end for a short cathedral visit. Later we will spend some time visiting the coast near Dover before checking in for 2 nights at our hotel in Tunbridge Wells.

*North Downs Way from Chilham to Chartham Hatch 8 kms (approx. 2 hrs)

Accommodation: Royal Tunbridge Wells Hotel or similar.

Overview: We will make our way along South Downs Way, starting at Firle Beacon in Sussex. This walk takes us from high viewing points through grazing lands until we drop down into the village of Alfriston in Cuckmere valley. The South Downs Way was an ancient pathway used since the Stone Age days by the very earliest of shepherds. Covering a length of about 150 kilometres, the Way ends at Beachy Head, a well visited part of the Seven Sisters cliffs.

After lunch we visit the coast and the cliffs with a walk on a section between Beachy Head and East Dean via Birling Gap. The evening is free to pursue our own interests.

*South Downs Way to Alfriston 8 kms (approx. 2.30 hrs)

*East Dean to Beachy Head via Birling Gap 5 kms (approx. 2 hrs)

Accommodation: Royal Tunbridge Wells Hotel or similar.

Overview: Our first stop today is Stonehenge, where we spend the morning (entrance included). Devon and Cornwall form the tip of southwest England, and have a mixed coastline with sandy beaches and rugged, dramatic cliff scenery. Many beautiful little villages are located along the dented coastline, and several of these serve as the home port for fishermen like the picturesque Polperro or, as at Fowey, a mixed port town with some commercial vessels loaded with china clay.

We then drive to Bodmin, where we have approximately 2 hours for a walk on Bodmin Moor. Tin mining was an important industry in the past and much of this is conserved in a number of World Heritage Sites. Today the region is a popular holiday destination with major centres like Lands End and Newquay. In the inland sections both counties have moor-lands, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and the larger Dartmoor in Dorset. These are uplands, often rocky with few trees, and they are used for grazing and recreation. Like Tintagel Castle, Bodmin Moor has associations with the legends of King Arthur and was also the setting for Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989).

We drive to St Austell for dinner at our Hotel.

Accommodation: Carlyon Bay Hotel or similar.

Overview: In the morning we drive to St Juliot, where our first walk is from the lovely little church of St. Juliot, restored by Thomas Hardy to the harbour town of Boscastle, then along the Atlantic bordered Southwest Coastal Track .

After this walk we will have some shorter walks as we drive toward Lands End via St. Ives and Botallack Mine, a 19th century tin and copper mine. This is located within a coastal World Heritage Site as part of a significant mining landscape across West Devon and Cornwall.

*St Julio to Boscastle along Southwest Coastal Walk 3 kms (approx. 1 hr)

*Rocky Valley to Tintagel along coastal path 5 kms (approx. 1.45 hrs)

*Fowey to wards Polperro along Corninc Coastal path 5 kms (approx. 1.45 hrs)

Accommodation: Carlyon Bay Hotel or similar.

Overview: After breakfast, we enjoy a walk from Wheal Martyn to St Austell, and then take a guided tour of St Austell. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Carlyon Bay Hotel or similar.

Overview: After breakfast, we drive to Ilsington, Dartmoor, where we take a circular walk with a guide. Ilsington is a village and civil parish situated on the eastern edge of Dartmoor.

We end the day with a drive to Crickhowell where we check in and have dinner at our hotel.

*Circular walk Islington 6 kms (approx. 2.30 hrs)

Accommodation: Dragon Inn or similar.

Overview: In the morning we drive to Storey Arms, where we walk to Pen Y Fan summit. This route is probably the most popular walk in the Brecon Beacons, it’s easy access making it an obvious choice for visitors to the area. A short but enjoyable route, it visits three summits, the first of which is Pen-y-Fan, the highest mountain in the range, and the highest mountain in southern Britain. The panorama from the summit, as would be expected, is as extensive as it is beautiful. On especially clear days. it is even possible to pick out the Somerset Hills and the coast of Devon. The summit carries an ancient burial cairn surmounted by a trig pillar.

For lunch, we drive to Libanus, where we also have time for a visit at the visitor centre.

We then drive back to Crickhowell, and the rest of your day is at leisure.

*Return walk from Storey Arms to Pen Y Fan summit 8 kms (approx. 2.30 hrs)

Accommodation: The Dragon Inn or similar.

Overview: Walking today is confined to the lower lands and the towpath of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, and features the section between the 3 locks at Llangynidr and Talybont. The River Usk passes through Brecon township and follows a valley southeast to enter the Severn estuary at Newport. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal was built between 1792 and 1812 and its upper sections parallel the Usk, but today the canal does not reach the sea. The river and canal follow a beautiful valley and since its restoration was completed in 1970, it has served as an attraction for walking and boating enthusiasts.

Our next local activity will be a drive to Llanddeusant in the least developed eastern part of the Brecon Beacon National Park to the Red Kite Feeding Station for feeding time (by 14:45 pm). This species was endangered some 20 years ago and this station has contributed to an increased and much more stable population of these magnificent birds with a wingspan approaching 2 metres.

*Llangynidr to Talybont 8 kms (approx. 2.15 hrs)

Accommodation: The Dragon Inn or similar.

Overview: From Wales we travel north via Chester and the outskirts of Manchester to Keswick, in the Lake District, where we will stop for 3 nights.

Many of the local landforms that make up this northwestern part of England are naturally attractive hills (fells) and valleys, and were fashioned through past glacial activity which gouged out and blocked valleys, so forming lakes. The geological diversity of the region adds a major dimension to the Lakeland landscapes. The Lake District National Park covers most of the Lakeland and it is the second largest National Park in Britain. This diversity has been exploited by climbers, hikers, and walkers, resulting in an endless number of walks in the district with everything from gentle lakeside paths to mountain climbing.

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel or similar.

Overview: This morning we drive to Grasmere, where we join a public tour of Dove Cottage. Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere in the Lake District of England. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth.

After lunch, we walk Rydal Water to Ambleside via Loughrigg Terrace, with a local guide. We will have some free time in Ambleside before driving back to Keswick.

*Rydal Water to Ambleside via Loughrigg Terrace 9 kms (approx. 3 hrs)

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we have our longest walk (optional and adjustable). We start in Keswick and walk to Castlerigg, via Watendlath and Walla Crag. Watendlath Tarn sits in a wonderfully wild location at the head of a classic hanging valley on the eastern side of Borrowdale. The combination of the small hamlet of Watendlath, its handful of fields and the wild fells that surround it, give this tarn a truly lovely feel.

At the destination, we visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle. One of around 1,300 stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany, it was constructed as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BC, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages.

We return to Keswick and have the rest of the afternoon/evening free.

*Keswick to Castlerigg via Watendalath and Walla Crag 20 kms

Accommodation: Skiddaw Hotel or similar.

Overview: Our travel today is via Carlisle, where we stop and then across the Scottish Border and on to Ardrossan in Ayrshire to catch a ferry to Arran. Arran is one of the Clyde islands located between the mouth of the River Clyde and Kintyre. Because of its diversity of rock forms and landforms, Arran is a described as miniature Scotland where all the outstanding geological features of the mainland are represented on this small island. We will be accommodated in Brodick, the main centre on the island, for 3 nights.

Accommodation: The Burlington or similar

Overview: We begin the day with a drive from Whiting Bay to Lochranza, where we visit the Isle of Arran Distillery, and participate in a guided tour. We also visit the Lochranza Castle ruins.

We then travel to Brodick where we visit the Arran Heritage Museum and grounds.

Accommodation: The Burlington or similar

Overview: We begin the day with a drive to Coire Fhionn Lochan, where we take a walk and view the beautiful glacial features of the Corrie area. In the afternoon, we drive to Blackwaterfoot, where we walk into the standing stones on Machrie Moor, followed by a walk via Kings Cave to Blackwaterfoot.

We return to our hotel in the evening.

*Machrie Moor and King’s Cave 9 kms (approx. 3 hrs)

Accommodation: The Burlington or similar

Overview: The morning of our travel day to Durham will be spent driving to Brodick then returning by ferry to Ardrossan. We then drive down the coast to Kircudbright, in Scotland’s pastoral corner. We then travel  across the Pennines to Beamish Hall. The Pennines is a north-south chain of high country in northern England between the Peak District and the Scottish border. This country is the source of many rivers and is formed mainly of limestone overlain by sandstone and shale. In some places this high country has been intruded by volcanic dolerite, and it is this relatively hard rock that forms the waterfalls. We stay in Beamish Hall for 3 nights.

Accommodation: Best Western Beamish Hall or similar.

Overview: After breakfast at the hotel, we drive from Beamish to Durham. On arrival, we take a short walk in the precincts of Durham city and up to the Castle and Cathedral. Both the Cathedral and Castle (now part of the university) were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986.

We then visit Housesteads Fort. The fort at Housesteads is a larger establishment with clear outlines of the bath house, stores, and barrack buildings. Here, there is a section of Hadrian’s wall that coincides with the Pennine Way. Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans and runs east to west across northern England. Like Offas Dyke, it was aimed at containing the tribes, in this case to the north. Today the Wall is listed as a World Heritage Site with many parts of the Wall and the mile-forts along it remaining intact.

We then return to Beamish Hall where we spend the night.

*Durham city walk 2 kms (approx. 0.30 hrs)

Accommodation: Best Western Beamish Hall or similar.

Overview: We begin the day with a drive to Great Ayton, from here, we walk to the Cook Monument along Cleveland Way to see the statue of James Cook. The Cleveland Way is a modern day walking path and follows the old driving routes between Scotland and London.

The town of Greater Ayton is on the moors and is a historically significant town given that as a boy Captain James Cook spent much of his time here. Later James Cook was an apprentice in Whitby before making his first sea voyage in the merchant navy. Interestingly the ship he was to later make his great sea journeys in, the Earl of Pembroke, re-named the Endeavour, had been built as a collier sailing out of Whitby.

Later we will be dropped off on the coastal section of the Cleveland Way for a walk north between Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby, via the Abbey ruins. There will be free time in Whitby to visit the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. Whitby was also home to a great Benedictine Abbey located on the cliffs south and east of the town. The ruins of the abbey are under the care of English Heritage. A most significant part of ecclesiastical history was that the timing for Easter was resolved here at the Synod of Whitby in 664.

In the evening, we return to Beamish Hall.

*Great Ayton to Cook monument along Cleveland Way 5 kms (approx. 1.30 hrs)

*Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby along coastal path 11 kms (approx. 3 hrs)

Accommodation: Best Western Beamish Hall or similar.

Overview: Travel today is to Norwich, Norfolk, East Anglia with a lunchtime stop in Lincoln. In Lyddington, we stop to view Bede House. We also stop in Oakham and Lyddington, before arriving in Norwich. On arrival, we check in and enjoy dinner at our Hotel. We stay at Norwich for 3 nights.

Accommodation: Maid’s Head Hotel or similar.

Overview: In East Anglia our tour will be focused on Norfolk, a relatively flat, poorly-drained county. The early transformation of these wetlands to productive agricultural land was the work of the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden, commissioned to construct drainage works. The Broads are significant local landforms restricted to eastern England, and consist of wide shallow lakes interconnected by rivers.

Many nationalities have had an interest in the coastline of Norfolk, starting with invasions by the Romans, then the Saxons and Angles, followed by the Vikings. Later groups came not as invaders but as Icelandic fishermen who settled and fished the rich local waters.

After breakfast, we drive from Norwich to Halvergate. From there, we walk across Berney Arms to Great Yarmouth.

Other local activities will include visiting the Herringfleet smock mill, and 3rd century Roman remains at Burgh fort/castle.

*From Halvergate across Berney Arms to great Yarmouth 14 kms (approx. 2.5 hrs)

Accommodation: Maid’s Head Hotel or similar.

Overview: After breakfast, we drive to Wells-next-to-the-sea have a morning walk on the Norfolk Coast Path between Wells-next-the Sea and Blakeney. This is a flat walk with a mixture of agricultural and grazing lands, reed beds, tidal flats, and many species of birds.  The coastal wetlands form Britain’s largest nationally protected reserves for many rare and protected bird species. Many sections of the northern coastline are undergoing sea erosion, requiring the building of palisades and walls to protect the land during stormy conditions and very high tides.

In the afternoon there will be a cruise on the Broads from Wroxham. On return to Norwich there will be free time and we finish the day with a final tour dinner.

*Wells-next-the-sea to Blakeney via Norfolk coastal path 13 kms (approx. 3.30 hrs)

Accommodation: Maid’s Head Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we enjoy a short (one hour) guided city walk in Norwich that takes in Elm Hill, parts of the old wall, and the Cathedral precinct. After an early lunch, we travel to Heathrow where we say our farewells and the tour draws to a close. Our approximate arrival time into Heathrow is 16:00.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 21 nights of accommodation in England, Wales, and Scotland.
  • 21 breakfasts and 10 dinners.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern mini-coach.
  • All entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
  • Detailed preparatory information.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Return economy class international airfare and departure taxes.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
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Tour Reviews

October 26, 2017

We found all the guides in each place excellent, some more than others, but always knowledgeable and obviously in love with their chosen careers. David our coach driver was excellent also, coping with some difficult situations with a cool head and providing us with a running commentary on a country he knows so well – especially Norfolk his home county!

October 26, 2017

Overall the trip was great and met my expectation.

July 3, 2018

An excellent experience of walking in various parts of Britain with many different geographical features and man-made environments. Travel days between locations include visits to historic sites. A great way to see the countryside of the UK and get a general overview of many counties.
The tour requires fitness and energy for a change of scene every day.

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