How better to explore Britain’s quiet lanes and countryside than by foot? Catherine Duff takes to the road (or rather, the footpaths) with Inntravel, the Slow Holiday people.
Spring is (supposedly) around the corner, so now is the perfect time to start planning a little staycation with a difference. Forgo the spa, skip the bright lights, and head into some of our beautiful and wildest countryside – on a self-guided, luggage-free walking break, with Inntravel.
But if the idea of a walking holiday sounds like hard work, then think again. With Inntravel, all your accommodation is pre-booked for you, and you stay only in carefully chosen and welcoming hotels and inns. Your luggage is forwarded to your next hotel and will be waiting for you on arrival, leaving you free to take your time and set your own pace along the way.
Here are three of my favourite Inntravel UK holidays. In no particular order (other than I went to University in Newcastle and have fond memories of Bamburgh castle and fish and chips in Seahouses):
Holy Island and The Northumberland Coast
If you have never seen the beach at Bamburgh, you have never seen the British coast at its best. The white sands stretch for miles and are edged by dunes and small fishing villages and towns. The walking here is superb.
This is a historic land, where saints and kings once vied for the loyalty of the people – and their legacy is still visible today in the many ruins and castles along the way.
You can explore the mystical wonder of Holy Island and Lindisfarne; picnic under the impressive ramparts of Bamburgh Castle or get all misty-eyed among the romantic windswept ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. There’s also the chance to take a boat trip to the Farne Islands to spot seals, migratory puffins and other seabirds up close.
You stay in charming guesthouses: beside St Cuthbert’s Way footpath, with coastal views across to Holy Island in Beal, and a remarkable converted chapel in Seahouses. Prices start from just £285pp based on two sharing, including four nights’ B&B, one picnic, luggage transfers between hotels and walking maps and notes with Inntravel. Click here for more information.
The wilder side of North Yorkshire
Here, sheep are left to graze amid relics of ancient human habitation, while small hill-farms dot the lower slopes and valleys, divided by miles of dry-stone walls and winding lanes. Walking from valley to valley, it’s possible to experience the raw beauty of northern England before descending to archetypal stone villages.
The route starts in the picturesque village of Sinnington and takes in Hutton-le-Hole in the heart of Ryedale, Cropton and the pretty market town of Pickering.
Climb aboard the North York Moors steam railway and you can travel all the way to the pretty village of Goathland (famed for its role as ‘Aidensfield’ in TV’s Heartbeat and ‘Hogsmeade Station’ in the Harry Potter films) for a moorland walk over Two Howes Rigg and Simon Howes Rigg before reaching the remarkable bowl-shaped valley known as the Hole of Horcum.
You can chose to walk through the ‘hole’ or around its heather-clad rim to reach the charming village of Levisham, before returning to Pickering.
There are two hotels: a former coaching inn in Sinnington, and a charming small hotel a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Pickering, with luggage transferred on ahead. Visit in late summer and the moors are ablaze with the vivid pinks and purples of the three types of heather that light up the landscape. Prices start from £430pp based on two sharing, including four nights’ B&B accommodation, three dinners, one picnic, walking maps, notes and luggage transfers with Inntravel. Click here for more information.
Shropshire is a history buff’s joy. From the Saxon hill-forts and Norman castles built to defend against Welsh incursion, to the rolling hills and winding river valleys that provided the background to the Industrial Revolution, Shropshire delights and intrigues at every turn.
Starting in historic Bishop’s Castle, you follow ancient drovers’ trails along the ridgeways, or ‘cefns’ of the border, sharing part of the path with sections of the Shropshire Way and Offa’s Dyke towards the delightful market town of Ludlow (a gastronomic point of gravity for the organic and Slow Food movement!). Heading away from the farmers markets and delis, the route takes you through charming unspoiled villages, and you can explore Norman castles and Saxon hill-forts, and wander across common pastureland that has not been ploughed for centuries.
Accommodation is provided by two lovely inns serving real ales and tasty home-made cuisine en route, while luggage is transported on ahead. Prices start from £298pp based on two sharing, including four nights’ B&B accommodation, one picnic, luggage transfers, walking maps and notes with Inntravel. Click here for more information.
So come on. Head in to the Slower country with Inntravel. Visit Inntravel for more information on all the above walks and more or call 01653 617002 to make a booking.