Sine Birkedal Nielsen March 21 2023

From ancient abbeys to spectacular castles, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to extraordinary historical sites in the UK & Ireland. Why not combine your walking holiday with a visit to one of the best?

We have done all the hard work for you by selecting the most memorable historical attractions to experience on your walk. These are places you’re not going to want to pass by, as you lace up your boots and set off.


Glendalough Monastery – Wicklow Way

Nestled in the green valley of Glendalough, the ancient monastic ruins that cross the path of the Wicklow Way are world-famous. With many dating back almost 1,000 years, this site was once an important centre of learning in early Christian Ireland.

As a walker passing through, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of peace and tranquillity while exploring this historic place. Make sure you leave enough time to see all the sacred sites and the two scenic lakes.


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Bamburgh Castle – Northumberland Coast Path

With its breathtaking position overlooking the North Sea, Bamburgh Castle has been guarding the Northumberland coastline for over 1,400 years. From the sweeping, sandy beach, the Norman castle dominates the view.

Once the seat of powerful kings, the fortress is still inhabited and offers a rare glimpse into thousands of years of history, which comes alive as you wander the ancient corridors. This is quite possibly England’s finest coastal castle, and with a spectacular walking trail on its doorstep – a gem like this deserves a top spot on our list.


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Roman Baths – Cotswold Way

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath is a fascinating place to visit, but one attraction that stands out from the rest is the incredibly well-preserved Roman Baths. Constructed around 2,000 years ago, the magnificent temple and bathing complex is built on the site of a natural hot spring, providing wonderfully warm water.

Although you’re no longer allowed to take a dip, the interactive museum and dressed-up actors will transport you back to Roman times as you peruse the ruins. If you feel inspired, the Thermae Bath Spa is just across the street.


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St Davids Cathedral – Pembrokeshire Coast Path

An overnight stop on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the tiny city of St Davids is home to one of the most significant historic shrines of Christendom. Named after the patron saint of Wales, the cathedral reaches back fourteen centuries and is still an active place of pilgrimage and prayer.

Although the building has been revised on many occasions, it survived the savage raids of the Vikings and continues to inspire faith. Step through the doors of this magnificent medieval church and take a moment to reflect.


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Rievaulx Abbey – Cleveland Way

A short distance from Helmsley on the Cleveland Way, a humble sign alerts you to a small detour to Rievaulx Abbey. Should you decide to take the turn-off, you will soon be rewarded with the most splendid views of the ruined abbey.

Once one of England’s most powerful Cistercian monasteries, Rievaulx is a sight to behold. The extensive ruins invite you to discover more about monastic life as you wander around the site surrounded by golden fields and leafy trees. Make sure to pick up an audio guide at the visitor centre.


Windsor Castle – Thames Path

Running through the centre of London, the Thames Path is dotted with important historic landmarks, but there are perhaps none more impressive than Windsor Castle. Around 20 miles west of London, the castle has been a Royal residence and fortress for over 900 years. It has been home to 39 monarchs, including the late Queen Elizabeth II.

This is officially known as the largest occupied castle in the world and remains a working palace today. The significance of Windsor Castle to the twists, turns, wars and revolts of British Royal history is undeniable and makes for a fascinating place to visit.


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Loophole Towers – Guernsey Coastal Path

You are never far from a piece of history on the sunny island of Guernsey. All along the stunning coastline, loophole towers punctuate the landscape. These serve as potent reminders of the island’s turbulent, not-so-distant past. These striking features were erected in the years following North America’s declaration of independence and the subsequent pledge of allegiance by France, which saw Britain at war on all fronts.

As you make your way around the island on foot, loophole towers, bunkers and fortifications intermingle with charming fishing villages and natural wonders in the most fascinating of ways.


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Llanthony Priory – Offa’s Dyke Path

The competition between Llanthony Priory and Tintern Abbey on Offa’s Dyke Path was so fierce we had to vote to determine which one is our favourite historic gem. Llanthony Priory won by a whisker for a few very good reasons.

Not only is it hidden away in the most dramatic of locations in the secluded Vale of Ewyas, but it also has an incredible history as one of the earliest Augustinian monasteries in Britain. Perhaps most remarkably, it offers humble accommodation and a pub serving real Welsh ales within the ancient ruins. With over 900 years of stories to tell, this remote ruin continues to enchant people today.


Muckross House & Gardens – Kerry Way

Beginning in the lively town of Killarney, the Kerry Way enters Killarney National Park and passes through Muckross Estate with its vibrant garden and ancient abbey. The location is phenomenal; sandwiched between Lough Leane and Muckross Lake, boasting spectacular mountain views.

The mansion dates back to the 17th century, whereas the garden was established in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. The ruins of Muckross Abbey, founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary, offer a deeper insight into the history of the area. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this impressive estate before continuing on your walk.


Castlerigg Stone Circle – Tour of the Lake District

This evocative stone circle is amongst the earliest of its kind in Britain, raised in about 3,000 BC during the Neolithic period. Situated on a hill to the east of Keswick, the Tour of the Lake District takes in the incredible stone monument before continuing towards Derwent Water.

Adding to the atmospheric experience, the location offers 360-degree panoramic views over the surrounding fells, including Helvellyn and High Seat. In total, 38 free-standing stones make up the circle. Although its purpose remains unknown, it most likely served as a place of ritual activity, such as weddings, burials, and worship.


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Interest piqued and bags packed?

Why not visit one of these fascinating historical gems yourself? All of our holidays can be tailored to your specific wishes and we would be delighted to help you discover all the historical highlights of our country.

Absolute Escapes have been organising self-guided walking holidays since 2004. As well as hand-picked accommodation, we can arrange luggage transfers and provide a personalised itinerary with all the information that you will need for your trip.

Get in touch with a travel specialist today to start planning your next adventure.

Sine Birkedal Nielsen

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