We’re proud to live in a nation steeped in layers of tradition and fascinating history. One of the best ways to fully appreciate the unique cultures, charms and distinct local flavours each part of the United Kingdom has to offer is on foot and by bike. Our Exodus self-guided Walking Holidays and Cycling Holidays are well-waymarked and specifically designed for those looking to travel to the beat of their own drum in their own backyard. From the fossil-rich layers and stunning rock arches of the Jurassic Coast to the quaint honey-coloured Cotswold villages that inspired one of the world’s greatest poets, William Shakespeare, we’ve hand-picked a couple of our favourite trips closer to home that are perfect for your next getaway with friends or family.
The Jurassic Coast
Not only does the Jurassic Coast hold the title of England’s first natural World Heritage Site, but it’s striking coastline that stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to the turquoise shores of Swanage in Dorset, also encompasses 185 million years of the Earth’s history in under 100 miles – making this UK site a must visit. Amidst it’s craggy coves, sandy beaches and towering cliffs where puffins lurch overhead, avid hikers can take in the best routes and blustery walkways the Jurassic Coast has to offer on our self-guided Jewels of the Jurassic Coast Walk.
This 5-night exploration offers a fantastic introduction to Dorset’s picture-perfect landscapes. Hugging the South West Coast Path, your route takes you from one downland hollow to the next before making a gentle descent into Lulworth Cove for an unforgettable panoramic view of the Burning Cliff and one of Dorset’s most iconic landmarks, the rock-arch, Durdle Door.
On this trip, you also get the opportunity to explore the 280-acre Durlston Country Park, brimming with over 250 species of birds, superb geology and the beautiful sea vistas from the Victorian Durlston Castle. On your final stretch, if you’re lucky, you may spot bottlenose dolphins and playful seals in the turquoise waves just beyond Swanage, where the stunning display of sculpted cliffs and towering chalk stacks known as Old Harry Rocks, mark the end of your journey.
While you’re here, we’d recommend you take a wander beyond the ancient forts, crumbling castles and rock formations to soak up the quintessentially British seaside towns you’ll encounter along the way. Imagine cosy thatched cottages, quaint shops brimming with buckets and spades and inviting tea rooms that provide a seemingly endless supply of scones complete with strawberry jam and generous lashings of clotted cream – perfect for that afternoon pit-stop.
The enchanting Cotswolds
Known as the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain, the honey-coloured villages, idyllic communities and rolling hill landscapes in the Cotswolds are bound to impress. This picture-perfect slice of rural southern England covers over 2,000km, with its smoothly contoured hills and sheep-nibbled grasslands spread across five different counties, giving you ample opportunity to explore trails less trodden.
With its human history dating back over 6,000 years, you’ll find that between it’s beautiful tangle of thatched cottages, golden-stone mansions and quaint churches, the landscape is speckled with the remains of Iron Age hill forts and Neolithic long barrows that any walker and cyclist can explore at their own leisure. With spectacular long-distance trails including the 102-mile Cotswold Way, these gentle yet dramatic hills offer the perfect walking and cycling holiday close to home.
If you’re wanting to explore the charming Cotswold area on two wheels, our Classic Cotswold Cycling trip offers a great self-guided 5-night cycling tour across some of the Cotswold’s world-famous villages, from Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Campden to the ancient Saxon capital of Winchcombe with Sudeley Castle – the famous resting place of Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s 6th wife) close by. This route also gives you the opportunity to see the Cotswold’s tallest castle – Broadway Tower Country Park, and a visit to Snowshill Manor – a National Trust property that’s brimming with extraordinary treasures collected over a lifetime by Charles Wade.
If you’re looking to stay a bit longer and take in the Cotswold’s rural countryside on foot, our Best of the Cotswolds Walk includes an 8-night stay in some of the finest North Cotswold villages. On this relaxing walking adventure, your route takes you to places of great historical interest from the Saxon and Jacobean to Medieval eras, with visits to some of the best-known towns including Broadway, Chipping Campden and Guiting Power. We also enjoy taking in some of the Cotswold’s horticultural gems in the National Trust manor houses of Kiftsgate and Hidcote.
For a more extensive look into Cotswold’s world-famous villages, our Walking the Cotswold Ring route, starts at the historic spa town of Cheltenham and takes you to Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water, the Saxon capital of Winchcombe and Chipping Campden, with an option to branch off for a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, so you can wander through Shakespeare’s home town.
With its misty heather-clad moors, tumbling waterfall trails and untamed landscapes, this tranquil region of undisputed natural beauty is well worth visiting and we’ve not even mentioned the fact that its steeped in decades of folklore surrounding sightings of the elusive Loch Ness Monster. It’s said that few places stir the soul and imagination quite like Loch Ness – and we can’t help but agree.
Situated in the Scottish Highlands 37km southwest of Inverness, Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in Wales and England combined, making the lake the most voluminous in the UK. Perfect for walkers and cyclists alike, this legendary corner of the highlands may be world-famous because of its alleged sightings of Nessie, but it’s the wild, dramatic scenery, beautiful castles, solitary lighthouses and great opportunities for adventure sports that bring visitors to this spectacular region.
Why not see it for yourself on our 6-night self-guided Loch Ness & the Caledonian Canal Walk, that offers spectacular hiking opportunities in the Scottish Glens. Take in one of the most fascinating waterways in Europe, the Caledonian Canal, alongside a section of the Great Glen Way and Beauly Firth on route passing by glass-like lochs, and if you’re lucky, you may spot magnificent golden eagles, red squirrels and wild deer.
If you want to take in the rugged Scottish scenery by bike, our Loch Ness & the Highlands Cycling winds along the Caledonian Canal towards Fort Augustus and follows old military roads laid down by General Wade, so you can take in the serene lochs and inviting country inn tearooms along the way. Passing by Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie saw his hopes dashed, and Cawdor where Macbeth plotted his unnatural deeds, you can make a pitstop at Fort George before ending your trip in the Highland Capital of Inverness, where you may come across playful dolphins bobbing in the icy waters.
Snowdonia and North Wales
With an endless amount of rugged mountain trails, historic train tracks, rejuvenated seaside towns and World Heritage castles speckled throughout the region – North Wales definitely holds its own against the interesting sites and attractions further south.
One of its most outstanding gems is the domineering peaks of Snowdonia. Standing at approximately 1,085m above sea level, Snowdown peak is the highest point in the British Isles, outside the Scottish Highlands. Home to an extensive network of trails, with over 100 lakes and craggy peaks like Cader Idris and Tryfan, you could say Snowdonia National Park has helped to act as a formidable mountain shield for the enchanting Llyn Peninsula and the ancient island enclave of Anglesey to retain their ancient mother tongue and fascinating Welsh culture.
On our new, Walking the Welsh Highland Railway trip, we take in the most spectacular peaks, ridges and lakes the National Park of Snowdonia has to offer on foot, and by taking a fantastic journey through sections of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. Starting on the coast of the maritime town of Porthmadog, we venture inland towards the picturesque village of Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu before taking on the epic hike to Snowdon’s summit. Voted the best view in the UK, Snowdown’s breath-taking vista offers views of Llyn Llydaw which is one of the legendary locations of King Arthur, his sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake.
If you’d like to discover the impressive Clwydian and Berwyn mountain ranges, our second new Welsh trip, North East Wales Heritage Trail takes you on an interesting journey through the beautiful rolling hills and limestone outcrops in the region towards Iron Age forts, stone castles and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct across the River Dee.
Starting in the historic town of Ruthin, we enjoy a circular walk in the Clwydian range. Afterwards, take a transfer to the scenic Horseshoe Pass on towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and returning to Llangollen in the evening. Catching a steam train to Glyndyfrdwy, you can enjoy an unforgettable hike in the soft rolling hills of the Berwyns, where you can admire the purple haze of flowering heather in the late summer. Expect a warm Welsh welcome, hearty breakfasts every day and great opportunities to soak in the best rolling landscapes North Wales has to offer.
Discover more great Cycling & Wallking Holidays in the UK below.