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Ruth Oxborrow June 21 2021

With over 50 long-distance trails to choose from, the UK & Ireland are home to some of the most breathtaking walks in the world.

On the most popular routes, you will be joined by a number of fellow walkers seeking the sense of adventure and escape provided by our wild places. For many, this feeling of community and kinship is an important part of the experience.  

However, for those seeking a more peaceful walking experience, there are a number of unmissable trails found off-the-beaten-track which are just as stunning as their better-known counterparts. 

We’ve been arranging award-winning walking holidays since 2004, and we have put together a list of some of our favourite quieter alternatives to our most popular trails.

 

Alternative to The West Highland Way: The East Highland Way 

Connecting Fort William – the outdoor capital of the UK and endpoint of the West Highland Way – with Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, the East Highland Way offers walkers a wild and unspoilt journey through some of Scotland’s finest scenery.  

Beginning in the shadow of Ben Nevis, this route is one sure to impress from the start. From Fort William, the trail passes through enchanting woodland, skirts silent lochs, and offers fantastic mountain views of the Creag Meagaidh group, before arriving in the resort town of Aviemore.  

Alongside the natural wonders, the East Highland Way is host to a number of sites of historical interest, including the Ruthven Barracks which were built in 1719 after the first Jacobite uprising.   

The serenity and contrasting nature of the route gives the East Highland Way a unique and unforgettable character.

Commando-Memorial on the East Highland Way

Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge

 

Alternative to The Great Glen Way: The Rob Roy Way

Named after the “Scottish Robin Hood” Rob Roy MacGregor, the Rob Roy Way is a long-distance route that follows the tracks and paths made by the fearless outlaw and folk hero in the 17th and 18th centuries.  

The trail begins in the village of Drymen in the Trossachs National Park and journeys through the Highlands until it reaches Pitlochry – a delightful Victorian Spa town in Perthshire.  

Just like its northern equivalent, the Rob Roy Way meanders through beautiful glens, passes some of Scotland’s finest lochs including Loch Venachar, Loch Lubnaig, and Loch Tay, and provides outstanding views of the surrounding mountains.  

Walking the Rob Roy Way also allows time for exploring the attractive Highland towns of Callander and Aberfeldy, dotted with inviting pubs they are the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of walking.

Rob Roy Way - Drymen to Aberfoyle

Views from Drymen to Aberfoyle on the Rob Roy Way

 

Alternative to The Hadrian’s Wall Path: The John Muir Way  

The John Muir Way is Scotland’s answer to the Hadrian’s Wall Path: a coast to coast walk which celebrates the country’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage.  

One of Scotland’s longest walking trails, the John Muir Way is named after the famed Scottish-American conservationist and ‘Father of the National Parks’- John Muir – who was born in Dunbar where the route ends.   

Following the quiet country lanes and canals of the John Muir Way shines a unique light on the heartlands of Scotland. From Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Scotland’s first National Park, the route journeys east, passing the architectural and archaeological highlights of the Roman Antonine Wall, Linlithgow Palace, and the Forth Bridges before reaching Edinburgh.  

After a quick detour to explore Scotland’s capital city, the trail heads for the coast, with the final section of the John Muir Way offering spectacular coastal walking along beaches and clifftops to Dunbar.

Linlithgow-Palace

Linlithgow Palace

 

Alternative to Cotswold Way: The Ridgeway  

Located in a surprisingly remote part of southern central England is The Ridgeway – ‘Britain’s oldest road’. The trail combines paths which have been used by soldiers, herdsmen and travellers for over 5,000 years, and follows a ridge of chalk hills from the World Heritage Site of Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon on the outskirts of London.   

Much like the ever-popular Cotswold Way, The Ridgeway takes in the rolling countryside and quaint villages of Southern England.  

From Avebury, the route passes through the undulating Wessex Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a tranquil oasis of vast, expansive landscapes perfect for escaping the noise of everyday life.  

After the Wessex Downs, the trail descends into the Thames Valley, home to the secluded woodlands and delightful villages of the Chilterns before finishing at the prominent landmark of Ivinghoe Beacon.

Ridgeway Walking

Riverside walking on the Ridgeway

 

Alternative to South West Coast Path: Pembrokeshire Coast Path 

Stretching for 186 miles along some of Britain’s most spectacular coastline, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one not to miss. 

The trail twists its way from Amroth in the south to the quaint riverside village of St Dogmaels, near Cardigan and traverses an ever-changing array of landscapes – every long-distance walker’s dream.  

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path’s maritime landscapes transition seamlessly from rugged cliffs and sheltered smugglers coves to pristine sandy beaches and brightly coloured fishing villages.  

Lying almost entirely within the UK’s only completely coastal National Park, the path also offers reminders of the centuries of human activity that have shaped this corner of Wales from the Neolithic period to the 21st Century.  

Though walking the whole route is an immense undertaking, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path can be enjoyed in shorter sections, ensuring that this is an accessible coastal escape that anyone can enjoy.

Whitesands Bay on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

 

Your Next Adventure…

Whether you’d like to take in the fresh air of the Pembrokeshire Coast or delve into the history of the Rob Roy Way, we’re here to help you plan your next big adventure.

Absolute Escapes offers a wide range of exciting walking holidays across the UK & Ireland with something for everyone. Get in touch with one of our travel specialists to find out which walk is the one for you and get your boots on the trail!

Recommended Walking Holidays

East Highland Way

From £620pp

Walking Holidays
Distance 82 miles / 132 km
Duration 6 - 9 Nights
  • Experience fabulous views of Scotland's highest mountains including Ben Nevis and the mighty Cairngorms
  • Discover the abundant wildlife, flora and fauna of the Scottish Highlands
  • Enjoy enchanting forests, peaceful mountain wilderness and lochside trails

Rob Roy Way

From £625pp

Walking Holidays
Distance 79 miles / 126 km
Duration 7 - 8 Nights
  • Follow in the footsteps of legendary Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor
  • Walk through beautiful forests and alongside some of Scotland's finest lochs, rivers and waterfalls
  • Discover the well-worn track used during the dramatic Jacobite uprisings and clan feuds

John Muir Way

From £1045pp

Walking Holidays
Distance 134 miles / 215 km
Duration 11 - 12 Nights
  • Travel coast-to-coast traversing the heartland of Scotland
  • Pass the famous bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland's first National Park
  • Walk along the beautiful East Lothian coastline to Dunbar, birthplace of John Muir

The Ridgeway

From £675pp

Walking Holidays
Distance 87 miles / 139 km
Duration 7 - 9 Nights
  • Enjoy wide and exhilarating vistas over the rolling hills of the Wessex Downs
  • Step back in time and explore the archaeological treasures on this ancient route
  • Explore the beech woodlands and the charming villages of the Chilterns

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

From £1285pp

Walking Holidays
Distance 186 miles / 298 km
Duration 14 - 17 Nights
  • Walk along some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Britain
  • Explore the great Norman castles at Manorbier and Pembroke
  • Discover Britain’s smallest city of St Davids with its glorious Medieval cathedral
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