Put spring in your step: 10 of the best upcoming walking festivals in Britain | Walking holidays

Coast to coast, Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight’s spring walking festival (there is also an autumn iteration) has almost 70 walks to choose from, ranging from Nature’s Table, a guided short walk and talk around a nature reserve, exploring food sources for wildlife, to a three-day circumnavigation of the island (72 miles in total). The flagship event is a fundraising walk for the island’s hospice – the coast-to-coast Mountbatten Walk the Wight, from Bembridge in the east to Alum Bay in the west. To make it accessible for everyone, there are five options: four, eight, 12.5 or 14 miles, or the full 26.5-mile cross-island route.
7-15 May, some walks free, Walk the Wight from £3.50 plus fundraising, or £33.50 without fundraising, isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk

Coast and country, Vale of Glamorgan

Nash Point on the Glamorgan heritage coast
Nash Point on the Glamorgan heritage coast. Photograph: Visit Wales

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Wales Coast Path, the Vale of Glamorgan is holding a new Vale Trails walking festival at weekends throughout May. There are 10 guided walks: five following the coastal path, and five inland routes, led by the Welsh broadcaster Chris Jones, with guest appearances by local historians, musicians and TV presenters. Highlights include the Salmon Leaps walk, where walkers might spot the fish as they follow the path of the Wrinstone Brook, and the Coast and Lighthouse walk across the cliffs of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Distances are between five and 10 miles. Some include pub stops, and the Magical Forest Walk includes gin and cider tastings.
Weekends from 1-29 May, prices TBC, registration required, visitthevale.com

Foodies’ footwork, Shropshire

The Oteley Estate in Ellesmere
The Oteley Estate in Ellesmere

After the inaugural one-day event last year, the Shropshire Tasty Trail is expanding over two days for 2022. Walkers follow a 7.5-mile route across the Oteley Estate in Ellesmere, stopping at three locations for a starter, then a main course and finally a dessert, with a different alcoholic or soft drink paired with each course. All food and drink is locally sourced, from estate-reared beef and pork to local ale, cider and liqueurs, and there is live music along the way. After the walk, participants can explore the gardens – the estate isn’t usually open to the public – or have another drink in the stable yard.
£33.95pp, 9 & 10 April, shropshiretastytrails.co.uk

Ramblers and Munro-baggers, Aberdeenshire

View from the summit of Lochnagar, looking down its northern corrie.
View from the summit of Lochnagar, looking down its northern corrie. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The long-running Ballater hillwalking festival in the Cairngorms has three levels of walk each day, suitable for everyone from casual ramblers to Munro-baggers, with a mix of volunteer and professional guided. Easy walks are six or seven miles long and relatively flat; medium walks are 10-12 miles with substantial hills or the occasional Corbett; and strong walks are 13 miles-plus or have several hundred metres of ascent. Most of the easy walks are already fully booked, but there are places available on a couple of medium walks and several strong walks, including the epic Five White Mounth Munros: 18 miles and five ascents, culminating in Lochnagar (1,155 metres).
21-27 May, from £12, walkballater.com

Lincolnshire Wolds outdoor festival

Lincolnshire Wolds
Lincolnshire Wolds

This new festival is a successor to the Lincolnshire Wolds walking festival. It still includes numerous walks of between one and 20 miles, but has broadened to include other outdoor activities across 200-plus events. There are coast, countryside and town walks; themed walks covering archaeology, wildlife and literature; full moon walks and dog walks; and navigation sessions. The non-walking activities range from cycling and mountain biking to wellbeing classes (dancing in nature, primal movement) and adventure (archery, high ropes, watersports, gliding and more). Child-friendly options include deer safaris, stream-dipping and beach workshops.
30 April to 5 June, some free events, woldsoutdoorfestival.com

Cider and suffragettes, Herefordshire

A view of Garway on the Kington Walks spring weekend
A view of Garway on the Kington Walks spring weekend

The third annual Kington Walks spring weekend (22-24 April) features 14 walks in and around the historic Herefordshire drovers’ town, including a pub walk, a dawn bird walk and a tour of Hergest Croft Gardens to see the spring blooms and rhododendrons. It is a good warmup for the Herefordshire walking festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, with more than 50 walks from two to 25 miles. They include a suffragette-themed walk, a cider solstice stroll and several strenuous “challenge” hikes. There are also 15 walks along sections of the Herefordshire Trail, a 150-mile circular route.
18-26 June, £6, some free walks, herefordshirewalkingfestival.co.uk

Writers’ haunts and wellbeing jaunts, Hampshire

Bluebells at Medstead, on the route of the Alton walking festival.
Bluebells at Medstead, on the route of the Alton walking festival. Photograph: Edward Westmacott/Alamy

Alton is a “Walkers Are Welcome” town at the source of the River Wey on the edge of the South Downs. This festival is now in its 10th year, and has a programme of 113 walks throughout May. Child-friendly options include short buggy strolls, ghost walks and two-milers for little legs. Aimed firmly at adults are wellbeing walks (letting go, finding peace and joy); boozy jaunts to breweries and vineyards; cardiac rehab rambles; and the odd 20-mile trek. There are also plenty of walks somewhere between the two, such as hedgerow foraging, bat and bird spotting, and tree walks.
1-31 May, free, booking required, alton.gov.uk

Yorkshire coast and battlefields

Sutton Bank, part of WalkFest.
Sutton Bank, part of WalkFest. Photograph: Gary Walsh

WalkFest, an annual walking weekend in the North York Moors, is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the region’s national park this year. There are three guided walks along coastal stretches of the Cleveland Way national trail, with transport provided. Saltburn to Staithes (nine miles) includes a climb up to Boulby Cliff (203 metres), the highest on England’s east coast. Staithes to Whitby (11.5 miles) passes Runswick Bay and Sandsend, good spots for a beach picnic. Whitby to Ravenscar (9.5 miles) goes through Robin Hood’s Bay, perhaps a stop for a halfway pint. The festival also includes a six-mile inland walk from Sutton Bank to Rievaulx Abbey, marking 700 years since the Battle of Byland.
28 & 29 May, all £6, booking essential, northyorkmoors.org.uk

Walk’n’water, Suffolk

With more than 70 walks over 16 days, the Suffolk walking festival has a host of options, include Walk’n’Water trips from Sudbury. These involve a boat ride along the River Stour to Great Cornard and a 1.5-mile walk back, or a 3.5-mile walk to Great Henny with the return journey by boat. Other walks are focused on everything from bluebells and badgers to bushcraft, beaches and bunkers. There is also a three-mile walk designed to inspire climate action; a stroll around Orford Ness with a shepherd and his sheepdog, and a birdwatching ramble celebrating 70 years of RSPB Minsmere.
14-29 May, some walks free, booking required, suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk

Wildlife and woodlands, the Midlands

The National Forest Way.
The National Forest Way. Photograph: Diana Jarvis

More than 9 million trees have been planted in the National Forest in the Midlands over the past 30 years, joining the remnants of ancient Charnwood and Needwood. The walking festival held here in the second half of May has a wildlife theme this year, with 84 walks in woodland, nature reserves, farms and the Calke Abbey deer park. As well as traditional walks, there are lots of Nordic walking and forest-bathing sessions, and a couple of Trail Therapy runs: five-mile runs at a “chatty pace”, to help people de-stress.
14-26 May, most walks free, nationalforest.org

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