4 UK River Walking Trips to Enjoy this Summer


Worried your wanderlust might come to nothing this summer? It’s certainly looking like overseas travel is off the cards, especially after the UK government announced only 12 countries would be on its ‘green list’ after the lifting of a complete travel ban (and that the list is looking unlikely to get any longer in the months ahead). But never fear, there’s more adventure on your own doorstep than you might suspect. Even if you’re not the sort to settle for a ‘traditional’ seaside holiday in the UK, there is no shortage of other options available - especially if you are prepared to get a little creative with your holiday ideas. 

How about walking a river for example? If your idea of travel is seeing and discovering new places, getting off the beaten track for a while, and getting some healthy exercise in the great outdoors, then you’d be hard-pressed to think of anything better. To get you started, in this post I'm going to share a list of ideas of well-trodden river routes in particularly scenic or interesting locations. All of the below are part of established walking and cycling routes, with plenty of options for places to stay along the way.

The Avon Valley Path
A perfect beginner’s walking route, the Avon Valley Path packs a lot into its 34 miles. Following the route of one of England’s most famous rivers, this trail connects the pretty Dorset coastal town of Christchurch to the historic city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, skirting by the edges of The New Forest on the way.

Depending on the pace you want to walk at this path can be completed in a long weekend, but with so many sights to see, you may well want to extend the journey a little longer - including taking a detour north further along the river and beyond to visit Stonehenge, Avebury and the other world-famous monuments dotted in and around Salisbury Plain.

The Thames Path
To walk along the River Thames through London is to take a stroll through the history of the great city itself. Starting at the Thames Barrier tidal defences at Charlton, the Thames Path takes in it all - the docklands, Royal Greenwich, Tower Bridge, the City, Westminster and much, much more.

But the Thames Path is much more than a novel way to explore everything London has to offer. Keep heading west, and you will pass through the leafy suburbs of Richmond and on into the Thames Valley beyond. Windsor is a 50-mile trek from central London - a leisurely week’s worth of walking. Or for a serious adventure, why not set yourself the challenge of walking the entire length of the famous river all the way to its source at Thameshead, a 180-mile odyssey that takes in Henley-on-Thames, Reading and Oxford on the way?

Heading north of the border into Scotland, the River Spey is famously associated with some of the finest whisky distilleries the country has to offer, lending its name to a distinctive style of single malt. It also winds its way through some of the most dramatic Highlands scenery imaginable, from Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms all the way to Garmouth on the beautiful Moray coast.

One for the real outdoors enthusiasts, the Speyside Way is a well-marked 60-plus mile walking and cycle route that hugs the mostly straight course of the Spey itself. For the whisky enthusiasts, the Way passes directly by the Macallan, Aberlour, Knockando, Tamdhu and Cragganmore distilleries. And if that isn’t enough for you, there are excellent diversions to take in the famous Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries, too, each adding a couple of days worth of walking to your journey. 

Richmond & The Swale Trail
Finally, stretching like a hilly spine from the Scottish border down to the Midlands, the Pennines might be best known for their peaks, dales and lakes. But it is also a region of stunning river valleys traversing some of England’s best-loved countryside, any number of which make for fabulous walking routes.

The River Swale cuts through the northern reaches of the Yorkshire Dales. Starting at the historic town of Richmond with its dramatic cliff-top castle overlooking the river, a detour up into the hills to follow the famous Coast to Coast path will bring you to the market town of Reeth in a good day’s walk. From there you can follow The Swale Trail along the course of Upper Swaledale as far as Keld, with the reward of a number of beautiful waterfalls on the upper reaches of the river. Then you can pick up the Coast to Coast path again and head west over into Cumbria via Kirkby Stephen, or head south along the Pennine Way to Hawes, famous as the home of the Wensleydale cheese creamery

For some of the above routes, you can book self-guided walking holiday packages, with accommodation and luggage transfers along the routes included. But just be aware that UK travel insurance is required to cover cancellations and medical emergencies.

This is a collaborative post.

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