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10 best YHA walks

YHA • Walking • Aug 10, 2022 • 10 min read

Day walks from Youth Hostel Association (YHA) locations

We’ve teamed up with the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) to bring you a selection of short walks from popular YHA locations across the nation. Not only do these routes make beautiful walks but the hostels make the perfect pitstop to refresh and refuel.

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Feeling the pinch, counting the pennies or saving for something big – sometimes we need to be smarter about how we spend our money. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap and cheerful activities to fill our weekends, with walking being one of the most accessible. There are hundreds of thousands of walking routes up and down the nation (see for yourself on OS Maps!) including stile-free walks and walks your canine companions will love.

YHA festival of walking

Social walks from YHA

As part of the YHA Festival of Walking, YHA put on a selection of guided, social walks from popular YHA locations for everyone to enjoy. Although the first YHA Festival of Walking is now over, these fantastic day walks can be done at any time of year, just park up at the participating YHA location and follow them in OS Maps. As your base, YHA hostels make the perfect place to refresh and refuel, offering food and drink alongside those all-important loos.

1. Hardrians Wall walk, Northumberland

YHA The Sill

  • Distance: 7.9 miles / 12.7 km
  • Ascent: 348m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Hardrians Wall walk 

Hardrians Wall walk

This is a beautiful historic ridge and moorland walk along the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall. This part of the Wall is one of the richest parts of the country for Roman archaeology. Along the route you'll see milecastles and forts, including the extensive Housesteads Fort which is a popular visitor location. Just after Milecastle 39 look out for Sycamore Gap, a tree made famous by the 1991 film Robin Hood. This walk has stunning panoramic views north and south along the full length of the wall.

Refreshments: Food, drink and toilets are available at the YHA and The Sill. Toilets and refreshments can also be found at Housesteads Fort visitor centre (750m off route).

Things to note: There are stiles on the route and gates. There are also some areas of steep, rocky and rough path with narrow and steep flights of steps.

2. Burley Village walk, Hampshire

YHA New Forest

  • Distance: 4.9 miles / 7.8 km
  • Ascent: 95m
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Free-roaming donkeys in Burley

Free-roaming donkeys in Burley

Relax in the New Forest with this leisurely walk around the outskirts of the charming village of Burley. Burley is a traditional New Forest village with a rich history of witches, smuggling and dragons! The village has picturesque thatched cottages, many interesting shops and things to see, much following the theme of witches and dragons! Ponies roam free here and can be found throughout the village centre. On this route you'll also see views over Castle Moor and Burley Moor.

Refreshments: Refresh at one of the many pubs and cafés in Burley. There are also shops in the village on the south end of Ringwood Road. Toilets are slightly off route in Chapel Lane

Things to note: There are no gates, stiles or steps — other than kerbs — on the route and the surface is mostly tarmac or crushed stone making it easy underfoot. However, there are large sections of the route on minor roads and access tracks with no footpaths so please take care.

3. Glenridding and Grisedale walk, Lake District

YHA Helvellyn

  • Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.9 km
  • Ascent: 558m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Glenridding and Grisedale walk

Glenridding and Grisedale walk

This is a low-level walk taking in the beautiful valleys of Glenridding and Grisedale. There are good views down Glenridding to lake Ullswater and up Grisedale to Helvellyn. Look out for Striding Edge, an impressive jagged ridgeline from Helvellyn's summit (worth a visit another day!). After your walk, take a stroll to the shores of lake Ullswater which has a stunning backdrop in all seasons.

Refreshments: There are no facilities on the route but food, drink and toilets are available at the YHA. Pubs, food, drink and toilets are also available a short detour from the route in Glenridding village.

Things to note: There is a nice bench at Lanty’s Tarn with views over the lake. Spot red squirrels here too!

4. Symonds Yat walk, Herefordshire

YHA Wye Valley

  • Distance: 5 miles / 8 km
  • Ascent: 85m
  • Difficulty: Easy
Symonds Yat 

Symonds Yat

This pleasant walk passes through the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) alongside the River Wye. It provides a great view of Symonds Yat Rock which is perched 120 metres above the River Wye and is a popular viewpoint that provides spectacular views over the English-Welsh border. This walk doesn't climb the rock but you'll be able to admire its beauty from below. On this shaded woodland walk you'll pass alongside the river where there is a memorial for a WW2 plane crash.

Refreshments: Food, drink and toilets are available at YHA Symonds Yat Rock

Things to note: This route is on a good quality footpath, mostly grass with some muddy patches after wet weather.

5. St Davids Head walk, Pembrokeshire

YHA St Davids

  • Distance: 3.6 miles / 5.8 km
  • Ascent: 231m
  • Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate
St Davids Head

St Davids Head

This peaceful route follows the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast around St Davids Head. The headland is made up of volcanic rock thought to date back 500 million years and provides a rich variety of habitats for animal, plant and marine life. The whole coastline is stunning and on this walk you'll have excellent views of Porthmelgan and Porth Lleuog - two beautiful beaches in the area.

Refreshments: Refreshments and toilets can be found at YHA St Davids and Whitesands Bay car park.

Things to note: The route is mostly uneven and unpaved (grass or mud with stone chippings) which could become muddy after wet weather.

6. Devils Dyke walk, Sussex

YHA Truleigh Hill

  • Distance: 7.4 miles / 11.9 km
  • Ascent: 400m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Views from Devil’s Dyke

Views from Devil’s Dyke

On this walk you'll find stunning views out to sea and inland. Much of it follows the South Downs Way, offering extensive vistas of the Weald and North Downs to the north, and Brighton, Shoreham and the English Channel to the south. Devil’s Dyke is a dry valley, the legend is that the Devil dug it to drown the parishioners of the Weald! Its summit (Devils Dyke) summit is the site of an Iron Age hillfort and make the perfect picnic stop. Look out for the 14th century church at Poynings.

Refreshments: Food, drink and toilets available at the YHA. There are no shops or toilets on the route. Find pubs at Devils Dyke and Poynings.

Things to note: The route as far as the Devils Dyke pub is a stony and grass path and suitable for all terrain pushchairs and some off road wheelchairs.

7. Latrigg walk, Lake District

YHA Keswick

  • Distance: 6 miles / 9.6 km
  • Ascent: 363m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
 Views from Latrigg

Views from Latrigg

This delightful walk takes you to a single hilltop with stunning views of Keswick, Derwent Water and the Lake District beyond. It's easily accessible from Keswick and it has become a 'must do' for those visiting the area. Bag yourself a fell, albeit one of the lower fells in the Lakes, at 368m high. The route up takes you through mature natural woodland in Brundholme Wood offering a bit of variety to your stroll.

Refreshments: There are no facilities on the route but food, drink and toilets can be found at the YHA Keswick and in the town itself.

Things to note: There is a bench close to the top of Latrigg for you to rest your weary feet and have a bite to eat whilst admiring the view.

8. Branscombe coastal walk, Devon

YHA Beer

  • Distance: 5.8 miles / 9.3 km
  • Ascent: 326m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Beer Head

Beer Head

With fabulous views and changing terrain, this walk follows the iconic South West Coast Path before passing through Dorset villages on the way back to Beer. Some highlights of this route include the spectacular cliff top views, charming Beer village and picturesque beach. Look out for the cretaceous chalk cliffs at Beer which contrast against red Triassic mudstones to the east and west. The Branscombe Mouth has a fascinating shipwreck history and the Beer Quarry Caves (small diversion) is well worth a visit.

Refreshments: Pubs, cafés and toilets in Beer and at the YHA. Toilets and food are also available at Beer Head Caravan Park, Branscombe Mouth and Branscombe village. There is also a pub in nearby Vicarage.

Things to note: The terrain includes rough ground with rocky, uneven surfaces and ruts and stones . However, there is an accessible path from Branscombe Mouth to Branscombe

9. Coalport and Ironbridge walk, Shropshire

YHA Ironbridge Coalport

  • Distance: 4.4 miles / 7 km
  • Ascent: 83m
  • Difficulty: Easy
Ironbridge Coalport

Ironbridge Coalport

This leisurely walk passes through lovely countryside and highlights the industrial history of the area. Information boards are located on the route for you to learn more. To begin, the walk follows forest tracks to Ironbridge and returns alongside the road. Some key points of interest to look out for on this route is the Tar Tunnel, China Museum, Tile Museum, Iron Bridge, Bedlam Furnaces and the craft centre. You could easily spend a day doing this walk by visiting the many attractions on route.

Refreshments: Toilets, shops, food and drink are available in Ironbridge and there are several pubs along the route.

Things to note: The route has no stiles and no steps, other than kerbs, and most of it is paved and good underfoot, with some paths made of small crushed stone.

10. Rodmell river walk,

YHA South Downs

  • Distance: 3.9 miles / 6.3 km
  • Ascent: 68m
  • Difficulty: Easy
River Ouse

River Ouse

This route makes a gentle stroll along the river Ouse, through quaint Sussex villages. From the Ouse Valley floor this walk provides views of the South Downs and chalk cliffs near Lewes. Look out for the historic swing bridge which is a reminder of the area’s industrial past. There is an information board nearby. You'll also pass Monk’s House, the country retreat of novelist Virginia Woolf.

Refreshments: Food, drink and toilets are available at the YHA. There's a pub at Rodmell and a drinking water tap outside Southease church.

Things to note: From the hostel to Rodmell and back is 5.3 miles and is accessible for some pushchairs and some off-road wheelchairs

Find out more about the YHA Festival of Walking and explore more of Great Britain all year round with the YHA.

YHA is a leading social enterprise that operates hostels all over England and Wales — providing inclusive adventures, in extraordinary buildings, in amazing places. The charity improves health, wellbeing and life skills for all by connecting people with the outdoors, nature, culture and heritage

Published: Aug 10, 2022 Edited: Jan 24, 2023

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