9 Awesome National Trail Activity Holidays (England Staycation Ideas)

Activity Holiday UK - Hadrian's Wall

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Ready to start planning your next activity holiday in the UK?

For those of you that have found a love for walking, nature and the outdoors during lockdown here are some spectacular places to plan your next staycation in England.

The UK has many walking trails winding across the county from local routes to our iconic acorn signposted national trails. For some people a long-distance hike is an epic adventure but for most, walking miles every day is not your idea of a fun holiday.

Each national trail has miles and miles of stunning scenery but don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out if you don’t want to walk the entire trail. There are plenty of ways you can visit these gorgeous spots without having to wear your shoes out.

Keep reading to find some wonderful active holiday ideas that include four of the fantastic National Trails in England – The Pennine Way, Hadrian’s Wall, Norfolk Coast Path and the Cleveland Way.

This post is sponsored by Visit England, however all thoughts are my own. I have walked the entire Pennine Way, Norfolk Coast Path and Hadrian’s Wall and I’ve hiked and visited large sections of the Cleveland Way trail. All photos and walks were taken prior to the lockdown regulations.

Map on Cleveland Way
Walking along the Cleveland Way

9 Activity Holidays in England, UK

If you are looking to plan an activity staycation in England these complete itineraries are perfect to help you plan your adventure and find all the best places to explore.

These national trails itineraries include 5 of the 15 National Parks in the UK, including The Peak District, Northumberland National Park, Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and the Norfolk Broads. As well as areas of outstanding national beauty, known as AONB including The North Pennines, Solway Coast, Howardian Hills and the Flamborough Headland Heritage Coast and the Norfolk Coast AONB. 

Walking itineraries

If you’ve found a love for the outdoors but don’t want to hike an entire long-distance trail these mini adventure holidays will be perfect for you. Whether you’re a group of friends who share a passion for the outdoors, a couple who enjoys walking holidays or a family looking for an activity holiday in the UK.

Each itinerary includes a detailed ideas how you can spend your time in each location and walks along the national trails. There’s a great selection of accommodation from glamping, bed and breakfasts, to luxury options along with places to eat and drink, to suit everyone’s tastes.

Within each itinerary there are suggested activities and experiences for each location. From beautiful walks and cycling to more adventurous activities such as climbing or caving. In addition, you can find wonderful experiences for all the family to enjoy, tours and fantastic visitor centres to explore.

And to top it off each itinerary includes details on travel and bespoke advice that you might need to know to help plan your perfect English holiday.

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Norfolk Coast path England Holiday

Hadrian’s Wall holiday ideas

Hadrian’s Wall path is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the trail starts in Wallsend, near Newcastle and ends at Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria, including miles of beautiful scenery across the country.

It is a popular national trail that many people walk as their first long-distance hike (it was my first one), but at 84 miles it’s certainly not a short walk. Along the route you’ll be taken back in time to when this historic wall was built seeing large intact sections of the wall, including forts and mile castles.

Hadrian’s Wall combines a love for the outdoors and history in one holiday. If you want a taste of this national trail these two itineraries are perfect to give you a flavour of the trail and show of the best bits of Hadrian’s Wall and it’s history. Pick either the east or west part of the trail to explore

Itinerary 1 – Cumbria

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall

This 4-day itinerary includes the central and west section of Hadrian’s Wall path as well as some quaint towns and villages along the way. Day 1 + 2 includes Haltwhistle exploring sections central of the wall and nearby market town of Brampton.

Whilst on day 3 + 4 you head to the west of the Hadrian’s Wall, first visiting the town of Carlisle, then on to Bowness-on-Solway, part of Solway Coast AONB.  If you have a love for birds it’s worth taking a pair of binoculars to spot as you explore the marshes. 

From visiting the historic wall to enjoying the nature and wildlife at the end of the trail it’s a real mix of different treats every day on this fantastic itinerary.

Read the itinerary here

Itinerary 2 – Northumberland National Park

Hadrian's Wall - England Holiday
One of the milecastle remains on Hadrian’s Wall

The second 5-day itinerary explores the central and eastern section of Hadrian’s Wall. For history lovers, again there’s loads to learn about on this option and for outdoor enthusiasts there are plenty of miles to walk

Day 1 + 2 of the itinerary starts at the quaint market town of Hexham then onto Corbridge, giving you a chance to explore these places and warm those legs up for the latter part of the itinerary. 

A change for day 3, 4 + 5 as you explore vast sections of Hadrian’s Wall with its many milecastles and the forts along the trail. Including Chesters Fort, Housesteads and Vindolanda as well as stopping off at The Sill, a fantastic Discovery Centre, complete with a rooftop garden.

The Sill Hadrian's Wall
The Sill

Day 5 you’ll finish with one of the most iconic Hadrian’s Wall views, Sycamore Gap. From The Sill, Hadrian’s Wall national trail is a short walk, turn right along the wall and you’ll come across the popular Sycamore Gap. 

The wonderful thing about exploring Hadrian’s Wall is you can easily find your way by following the remains of the wall that guide you along.

For more ideas and to read the detailed itinerary click here for more details.

Read the itinerary here

Pennine Way holiday ideas

Jacob's Ladder start of the Pennine Way
Walking along the Pennine Way in the Peak District

The Pennine Way although not the longest national trail in England, is known as the toughest trail. The path starts in Edale, Derbyshire in the beautiful Peak District national park and finishes 268 miles later in Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.

As you can imagine the trail is dotted with many beauty spots. For those that walk the trail, each day is filled with different views and challenges.

However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed holiday, with some walking (but not 268 miles) these three itineraries focus on different points on the trail to immerse you into the magnificent Pennine Way.

Itinerary 1 – Peak District

Curbar Edge Peak District
Stunning views from Curbar Edge

In keeping with the start of the Pennine Way, day 1 of this 3-day itinerary begins in the quaint village of Edale. From here, you can follow the Pennine Way national trail via Jacob’s Ladder to Kinder Scout. This is toughest hike on the itinerary as Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District, so be sure to pack your hiking boots!

Day 2 explores a different part of the Peak District, known as the White Peaks area, including Bakewell, Chatsworth House and a wonderful walk along Curbar and Froggatt Edge (pictured above). 

Mam Tor in the Peak District
Views from Mam Tor summit

After a change in scenery on day 2, day 3 is back to Castleton, a village close to Edale where you can hike the popular Mam Tor, go caving or even try out more adventurous activities such as , climbing and abseiling.

If you’ve never visited the Peak District then this itinerary is a wonderful mini-holiday and no doubt, you’ll want to return to explore more! Check out the full itinerary below

Read the itinerary here

Itinerary 2 – Alston + beyond

Slaggyford train station near Alston
Slaggyford train station

This option is located much further north Pennine Way national trail, beyond the Yorkshire Dales in the North Pennines AONB. A wonderful 5-day itinerary based in Alston and exploring the nearby towns and villages discovering an abundance of history in the area.

Day 1 begins in the town of Alston itself, with its cobbled streets and local pubs to start your holiday or alternatively you could visit the nearby mine at Nenthead.

On day 2 of the itinerary, it’s time to head off on a circular walk heading along the Pennine Way trail and South Tyne trail, a great chance to stretch your legs and see more of the North Pennines. 

The subsequent days are spent visiting nearby towns and villages, including Slaggyford and Garrigill, hopping on the South Tynedale Railway and visiting waterfalls

As well as all the beautiful scenery to see in the daytime, when the sunsets take the opportunity to enjoy the night skies. This area is well-known for it’s ‘Dark Skies’, you can visit the Dark Sky Centre with an expert or simply enjoy the moment yourself.

Read the detailed itinerary here for loads more things to do.

Read the itinerary here

Itinerary 3 – Hebden Bridge + Calder Valley

Stoodley Pike near Hebden Bridge
Stoodley Pike near Hebden Bridge

For the final holiday itinerary for the Pennine Way you’re heading back south again on this 5-day holiday in and around Hebden Bridge.

The official Pennine Way doesn’t go via Hebden Bridge but many long-distance walkers, including me, opt to stop off at this quirky town, known as the Glastonbury of the north.

To start out holiday you begin by exploring Hebden Bridge, then day 2 it’s a hike uphill via the Pennine Way trail all the way to the memorial Stoodley Pike with stunning views for miles, including back towards Hebden Bridge.

Top Withins Farmhouse
Top Withins Farmhouse

From here you then visit Hardcastle, Halifax and Haworth and set off on including a different remote section of the Pennine Way up to Top Withins old farmhouse, made famous by the book Wuthering Heights and the last day is spent exploring the Calder Valley. 

A wonderful way to explore the Pennine Way near Hebden Bridge and its surrounding area. There are plenty of beautiful day walks to enjoy each day and returning to Hebden Bridge is a wonderful way to end each day. Read the detailed plan here.

Read the itinerary here

Cleveland Way holiday ideas

The Cleveland Way is a long-distance trail situated on and near the east coast of England. Beginning inland at Helmsley the trail heads north to the coast at Saltburn by the Sea before heading south along the coastal path to Filey.

An opportunity to explore the beautiful North York Moors national park, which has a wonderful mix of moorlands and coastal views so something for everyone.

Itinerary 1 – Filey, Ravenscar + Flamborough Head

Views along Cleveland Way England
Views towards Robin Hood’s Bay

The first 3-day itinerary takes in the coastal section of the trail exploring Filey, Ravenscar and then venturing towards the beautiful Flamborough Head.

If you love the smell of fresh sea air this itinerary is perfect for you, strolling along the coastal path and enjoying the views out to sea is a wonderful way to holiday in England. And if you love birds and wildlife Flamborough Head is wonderful. Be sure to pack your binoculars too!

To read the detailed itinerary and plan your trip click here for more information.

Read the itinerary here

Itinerary 2 – Helmsley + North York Moors

Views near Sutton Bank in North York Moors
Views near Sutton Bank in North York Moors

Another 3-day itinerary taking in the beauty of the North York Moors and exploring the Cleveland Way. 

The holiday starts visiting nearby Sutton Bank and then venturing to walk along the Cleveland Way and see beautiful views for miles, you might even spot the ‘White Horse’! Alternatively, you can opt to head to Rivevaulx Abbey, which is a magnificent place to visit and something a bit different.

Rivevaulx Abbey
Rivevaulx Abbey near Helmsley

Day 2 you can explore more around the area of Helmsley, maybe visit the Walled Garden which is beautiful in spring and summer months.

Alternatively for those birds lovers, why not visit the National Bird of Prey Centre. There are many birds of prey including eagles, owls and falcons, and you can enjoy various bird displays throughout the day.

Read the itinerary here

Norfolk Coast Path

The Norfolk Coast path is a beautiful national trail starting at Hunstanton and ending 83 miles later at Hopton-on-Sea, although when I walked it I did it the other way around.

A national trail complete with sandy beaches, nature reserves and quaint villages along the way you won’t be disappointed with this as your traditional English holiday.

Itinerary 1 – Sheringham to Aylsham

A lovely 4-day itinerary beginning in Sheringham and heading along the coastal path via Cromer and Great Yarmouth to Aylsham. There’s plenty to enjoy on this holiday from walks along the Norfolk Coast path.

Beeston Bump trig on Norfolk Coast
Beeston Bump trig on Norfolk Coast

From heading up to Beeston Bump trig point, the highest point in Norfolk where you can see for miles to beautiful walks next to the sea, admiring the brightly coloured beach huts.

Beach huts on Norfolk Coast Path
Beach huts at Cromer on Norfolk Coast

If you’re looking for a beach holiday with a difference then the Norfolk Coast might be perfect for you.

Read the itinerary here

Itinerary 2 – Wells next to Sea, Holkham, + Blakeney

Another wonderful itinerary exploring many of the iconic spots on the Norfolk Coast from Wells-next-to-the-Sea, Holkham, Morston, Blakeney and Cley Marshes you have a fantastic 4 day holiday to enjoy.

Cley-next-the-Sea Norfolk Coast Path
Windmill at Cley-next-the-Sea

 

Read the itinerary here

Do you have any questions about these activity holidays in England? Ask me in the comments below.

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Hadrian's Wall in England holiday
England activity holiday ideas

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