The green English countryside is not only unrivalled in its quaint beauty - it is also among the most accessible, thanks to sprawling national parks and an enshrined ‘right to roam’.
Unlike Australia, the UK has an extensive network of public footpaths which often cross private land. The UK’s Right to Roam law allows walkers unlimited access to many designated open areas. Additionally, 2019 marks 70 years since an Act of Parliament in the UK created national parks to ensure the countryside was preserved and accessible.
One of the UK’s most famous national parks is Yorkshire Dales National Park, which features in a self-guided walk recently launched by On Foot Holidays. Yorkshire is known affectionately as ‘God’s own county’, and the Dales in the west of the county are renowned for their walking trails, caves and medieval ruins. The rugged landscape and picturesque villages have inspired literature and popular culture across the decades – everything from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights to the movie Calendar Girls, filmed largely in Kettlewell through which On Foot walkers will pass.
Boasting unspoilt villages, drystone walls, caves, the beautiful medieval Fountains Abbey and vast tracts of green fields, hills and woods, the seven-night Yorkshire Dales route is available to walk from May to October each year. Along the way, guests will stay in country pubs and comfortable B&Bs and eat well, with two French-chef-run establishments on the route to supplement the hearty Yorkshire fare.
Beginning in the eastern lowland, in the little cathedral city of Ripon, the first day will take travellers to the hauntingly beautiful ruins of Fountains Abbey, one of the most important centres of medieval England. The route will also take walkers over brooks and meadows to Brimham Rocks, a collection of balancing natural rock formations. The route then starts to gradually climb through the sheep country of the Dales. After visiting the market town of Settle, guests will continue to Austwick, a town nestled in the dale below Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s ‘three peaks’ and the final walking challenge.
The walk is graded medium-hard, with three to seven hours of walking each day. Including seven nights’ accommodation, seven breakfasts, and all luggage transfers – meaning travellers simply carry a day pack – the route costs from £750 per person, twin-share (approximately A$1352 depending on exchange rates).
Payments can be made by via Earthport FX transfer, a system which offers Australians the convenience of paying for walks in Australian dollars at a local bank, saving transfer charges and credit card fees.
Rated one of Europe’s leading self-guided walking tour operators, On Foot Holidays offers 32 self-guided walking tours in 12 countries across Europe. Accommodation and information packs are provided for all the routes and optional guides are available on select itineraries. Walkers select their departure dates, luggage is transferred between inns each day and all routes are designed by locals and tested by staff from On Foot Holidays.