The best ways to escape the crowds on your next UK walking holiday

With staycations on the rise in the UK and people looking to explore what's on their doorstep, some of the classic holiday destinations and walking areas are becoming very busy during summer and peak season. To escape the crowds, rather than making a beeline for these locations for your guided walking holiday, why not consider some of the less-trekked corners of the country? We know the best places to explore, have country houses right around the UK and our experienced Leaders can introduce you to areas you might not have considered before. So, here's our guide to the best eight alternative holiday ideas for avoiding the crowds in the UK on your next walking holiday.

Amble around Shropshire rather than the Cotswolds

Shropshire Hills Holidays

Shropshire Hills

Cotswolds Holidays

Cotswolds

The enchanting stone-built villages of the Cotswolds feel a lot less charming if you get stuck in queues of walkers. And while we can guide you to the Cotswold’s hidden gems and out-of-the-way sites from our smart base in Bourton-on-the-Water, trying to find somewhere to stop and soak up the quintessential English countryside can be a challenge. So, for an English idyll without the crowds, head to Shropshire instead and our country house in Church Stretton. It’s full of rolling green hills and timber-framed villages, with a scattering of castles and historic sites. Highlights include castle-crowned Ludlow, industrial Ironbridge and the walking on the whale-back ridge of the Long Mynd.

Discover Yorkshire's Moors and Wolds rather than its Dales

North York Moors Holidays

North York Moors

Yorkshire Dales Holidays

Yorkshire Dales

The Dales get all the attention and we adore stately Newfield House and its prime location in the heart of the countryside here, but the Yorkshire Moors and Wolds ("wolds" means low hills) offer some of England’s most tranquil countryside, with some superb walking in quieter corners. This may not be the wild landscape of Malham Tarn and Gordale Scar but the neat green pinstripe of the fields edged by ancient trees form their own inspiration; the Wolds are among David Hockney’s most favoured subjects. From Larpool Hall, our country house in Whitby, with its handsome harbour, medieval streets and literary associations, there’s easy access to Captain Cook country, the Cleveland Way and beaches and hideaways such as Robin Hood’s Bay along the coast as well.

Explore Northumberland instead of Cornwall's Coast

Northumberland Holidays

Northumberland

Yorkshire Dales Holidays

Cornwall

We love Cornwall and our country house Chy Morvah is perfectly placed in St Ives to immerse you in this area but you can swerve the summer influx to Cornwall’s white-sand beaches, sea and craggy clifftop walks and discover another beautiful coast by traveling northwest, to Northumberland. Here you’ll find 30-miles of sweeping sand up against the dramatic North Sea. This coast, like the county’s wild and remote interior, is sparsely populated but easily explored from Nether Grange in the quiet harbour village of Alnmouth. There’s no overblown seaside resorts, just charming villages and almost certainly a castle – Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England after all - and miles of wide, sandy beaches you might have much to yourself. Add in the wildlife and seabird colonies of the Farne Islands and the historic outpost of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is only accessible at low tide, and you’ve a match for the much more famous south west corner of the country.

SEE wild ponies on Exmoor rather than the New Forest

Exmoor Holidays

Exmoor

New Forest Holidays

New Forest

Wild ponies and pigs, and vast wild stretches: the New Forest in England’s southwest is a delight, but it’s no secret, and it snares millions of visitors in an average year. If you want to get away from it all and explore large open areas, make your way to Holnicote House in Exmoor. This large national park has at its heart a high moor full of tawny grasses and huge skies, with broad views. Then there’s the rugged coast and Quantocks to explore too. Life is attuned to the rhythms and colours of the seasons, with wild ponies and their foals in spring, purple heather in late summer and gold-bronze leaves in autumn, making it a winning year-round destination.

Go Fossil hunting on the Isle of Wight rather than Jurassic Coast

Isle of Wight Holidays

Isle of Wight

Dorset Coast Holidays

Dorset Coast

Stretching from Dorset to Devon, the 95-mile-long Jurassic Coast alternates golden sands and weather-sculpted rocks and cliffs. However, beautiful spots such as the massive rock arch at Durdle Door and picture-perfect Lulworth Cove, just 200 yards down from our gorgeous country house, are sometimes victims of their own fame. To discover a quieter stretch of British coast, yet rich in fossils and geology, explore the lesser known areas along the south coast of the Isle of Wight, just along from Freshwater Bay House, stood atop the island’s classic white cliffs and dominating the bay that it is named after. Explore the crumbling cliffs and exposed shoreline from Compton beach to Blackgang and you might stumble across fossilised wood from a petrified forest, shellfish and oysters, ammonites and more, as well dinosaur bones. Make sure to look out for the dinosaur footprints exposed at low tide too.

Wander around Wastwater rather than Windermere in the Lakes

Lake District Holidays

Wastwater

Lake District Holidays

Windermere

The Lake District can buzz with people come summer although they tend to descend on the south and central Lakes. It doesn’t have to be that way though and with a little imagination you can avoid the crowds. Head west to Wastwater, overlooked by Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, to discover a wild, deep stretch of water that’s a world away from spots like Windermere. It’s harder to reach, with fewer towns around the shore, so it never gets as busy. Otherwise, go in search of corners such as Cathedral Cove in little Langdale, or bag less popular Wainwright summits from our house Monk Coniston on the shores of Coniston Water, and explore the Honister Slate Mine and further reaches of the northern Lake District from Derwent Bank, slap bang on the edge of Derwentwater.

Seek out Welsh summits outside of Snowdon

Brecon Beacons Holidays

Brecon Beacons

Snowdonia Holidays

Snowdonia

The peaks and valleys of Snowdonia get all the headlines in Wales and our house at the foot of Mount Snowdon, Craflwyn Hall, is ideally situated to serve these areas, but they can be deservedly popular. While you can avoid the queues on the Pyg Track by setting out for alternative peaks such as Tryfan and Cader Idris, or heading to the Glyders that lie within sight of Snowdon and resemble castles grown out of rock, set your sights further south and explore the Brecon Beacon National Park instead. From Nythfa House above the mid-Wales market town of Brecon, take on sweeping ridges, an ascent of the Black Mountains and scale Pen-y-Fan for tall stories, or look to more subtle strolls through the river-carved landscapes of the Melte Valley, along the trail of a series of awesome waterfalls.

Quit mainland UK to go Island Hopping instead

Island Hopping Holidays

Island Hopping Holidays

Guided Walking Holidays

Guided Walking Holidays

While the UK’s mainland is in most peole's front of mind when it comes to staycations for its incredible and varied countryside, it also means that most people target these same destinations. There are literally thousands of islands off the British coastline though, enough for everyone to find a quiet cove or secret beach. Escape to the Isles of Scilly, hop round the Channel Islands or make your way to the Scottish Islands for some exceptional landscapes, superb walking, and parts of the country in miniature. We particularly like Orkney and Shetland, as well as Lewis and Harris, while Hebridean Hopscotch lets you visit the Isles of Skye, Raasay, South Uist, Barra and Vatersay in one single epic trip.