Britain's 6 Best Walks for Solitude & Reflection

John Muir famously argued that wilderness was a necessity in modern life, and escaping into green spaces has been proven to boost our mental health by giving us a chance to reconnect with nature and ourselves.

As part of my induction to the Absolute Escapes team, I was sent out to explore the Southern Upland Way which inspired me to draw up a list of some of the other paths less-travelled. From Scotland to Wales, discover some of Britain's best walking holidays for solitude and reflection.

Southern Upland Way

The Southern Upland Way begins in Portpatrick, overlooking the Irish Sea, and stretches from coast to coast, before finishing in Cockburnspath near Dunbar. The route passes through the Galloway Forest Park, and as the first UK park to be appointed Dark Sky status, it’s the perfect place for some stargazing and reflection.

I recently walked part of the section from Longformacus to Cockburnspath. This leads you through woodland and beautiful farmland before climbing slightly and emerging on the East Coast at Pease Bay. I found The Pease Bay Nature Reserve and the walk along the cliffs to Cove Bay to be a particular highlight, as the rest of the trail is inland. I’d also recommend taking a short detour to Cove Harbour, a picturesque and relatively undiscovered fishing harbour still in use today.

The Southern Upland Way is a delightful but still relatively undiscovered trail. It allows you to enjoy the peace and undisturbed wilderness of a beautiful landscape… at many points you feel as though you have the countryside to yourself!

East Highland Way

Starting in Fort William and finishing in Aviemore, the East Highland Way has a distinct undiscovered beauty of its own. From lochside trails and forest paths to amazing mountain views: it is a challenge in its own right. If you’ve already walked the West Highland Way, or if you’d like to try a walk which is a little wilder and less busy - it is the perfect trail to try.

The path provides views of some of Scotland’s greatest mountains, including Ben Nevis and the Cairngorms. Nan Shepherd, a Scottish author and poet, was inspired by the wild beauty of the Cairngorms to write her seminal masterpiece: The Living Mountain, so who knows what the East Highland Way might inspire in you!

The trail connects some of Scotland’s existing long-distance routes, such as the Great Glen Way and the Speyside Way. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to combine walking trails if you wish to continue your journey.

Kintyre Way

The Kintyre Way stretches along the beautiful and remote Kintyre Peninsula off the west coast of Scotland. It allows walkers to discover a relatively undiscovered and untouched wilderness, leading you from Tarbert in the North, to Machrihanish in the South. The unique geography of the peninsula means that The Kintyre Way feels more like a coastal trail than an inland trail, with hidden coves and stunning beaches to discover along the route.

The views to the West of Islay, towards Gigha and Jura, make this walk unique. There is ample opportunity to spot a wide variety of Scottish wildlife, from seals to deer. The stretch from Clachan to Tayinloan is a bird watchers' paradise and offers the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the local wildlife. It’s possible to add a day on to your walking trail to explore the Isle of Gigha - a remote island with a population of around 160 people.

The Kintyre Way offers a relaxing and peaceful alternative to some of the more crowded walking trails, with beautiful coastal views and the opportunity for plenty of wildlife-spotting.

Pennine Way

As Britain’s oldest designated long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way was established to be a route through the backbone of Britain. It was proposed by writer Tom Stephenson, who believed that open access to the countryside was an important right to city workers and farm labourers.

Prior to the opening of the Pennine Way there was a surge of ramblers who mass-trespassed in order to gain the right to open access across this stretch of countryside. Thanks to this social revolution, open access was granted and the Pennine Way now crosses the Derbyshire Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Path. We currently offer three routes for you to choose from which break the 268 mile route into more manageable sections - the South, Central and North sections.

Popular with geology fans, the landscape of the Pennine Way explores both glacial and limestone areas of natural beauty. The Yorkshire Dales showcases some striking limestone landscape, including Malham Cove: an amphitheatre shaped formation formed from eroded limestone rock.

The Pennine Way traverses some of the wildest and most isolated landscapes in Britain whilst also taking in many charming small towns across Central and Northern England. Many would describe it as a once in a lifetime adventure. The beautiful yet isolated landscapes make it a must for those who appreciate solitude and wilderness on their walking travels. The history of the opening of the trail is also a fitting reminder of the importance of the right to access our countryside and the benefits of escaping to the wilderness within our daily lives.

Skye Trail

The Skye Trail spans the whole of the island, from Flodigarry in the North to Broadford in the South. It passes through the dramatic 'Red’ and ‘Black’ Cuillin mountains and features some of Skye’s most iconic landscapes including the Old Man of Storr, the Trotternish Ridge and the Quiraing. Whether you’ve visited Skye before or not, the Skye Trail provides a unique and slower-paced way to experience the often busy island.

Good navigation skills are a must, as the path itself is not way-marked and often very isolated from settlements. Many of the paths take you to areas of Skye most visitors will never experience, which makes it an amazing opportunity to experience Skye’s unique culture and landscapes. The isolation of the trails means that there is plenty of space for reflection and an array of inspiring landscapes.

Offa’s Dyke Path

The Offa’s Dyke Path dates from the late 8th century when King Offa ordered a wall to be built to mark the boundaries of his kingdom. The path follows the English-Welsh border, leading you across changing landscapes and through three areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the Wye Valley, the Shropshire Hills and the Clwydian Hills.

There are a number of historic landmarks along this National Trail and the variety of landscapes means that there are a number of opportunities to explore different kinds of wilderness and experience different wildlife. The route has few crowds and provides abundant opportunities for reflection and discovery along your journey.

Ready for a Walking Holiday?

If you’re inspired to get out and reconnect with the wilderness away from the crowds, Absolute Escapes offer walking holidays for the above routes and are fully customisable to your requirements.

As a team of people who live for the outdoors, we’d be delighted to help plan your walking holiday. Please do get in touch to discuss how we can help you plan your next escape into the wild!

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