UK Walking Holidays Spike Amidst Perfect Storm of Global Issues, Travel Trends
by JoAnna Haugen
The last two years have created the perfect storm for walking holidays: The COVID-19 pandemic kept people cooped up then drove them to wide open spaces. The inability to travel to far-flung places made local travel appealing. And the climate crisis highlighted the urgency of cutting out carbon-heavy activities like international flights.
Image Credit: The South West coastal path in Dorset, England (Pic: Matteo Massimi on Unsplash)
According to Natural England’s People and Nature Survey data, which began collecting data in April 2020 to “understand the impact of coronavirus on how people use the natural environment in England,” the number of people spending time outside has increased significantly. From April 2020 through March 2021, an average of 49% of survey respondents said they’d spent time outside in green or natural spaces over the past week. In February 2022, 61% of adults in England said they’d spent time outside in the past 14 days. This most recent survey also noted 41% of people said visiting green and natural spaces has become even more important to their wellbeing since coronavirus restrictions began.
This is good news for UK-based travel companies offering these experiences. “We have almost doubled the amount of UK holidays in our guided walking holiday programme over the last two years,” said Gemma Chase, head of marketing at Ramblers Walking Holidays, most of whom are UK residents.
These new clients are “definitely more domestic travellers, whose eyes have been opened up to the joys of walking in the UK,” said Tali Emdin, manager at Walkers Britain. “This is particularly the case in long-distance walking where people get the itch to complete these trails, such as walking Coast to Coast or along the spine of the Pennines. We are also seeing demand for those wanting to tick off the National Trails.” Beyond that bucket list, walkers are also seeking out other innovative routes, such as walking the longest straight line in the UK without crossing a paved road.
The pandemic may have encouraged UK residents to slip on their walking shoes and explore just beyond their front doors, but the long-term outlook of other global issues indicates the trend won’t subside any time soon. “It’s a healthy way of travelling and has a much lower carbon footprint,” Emdin said. “More travellers are looking at alternative methods of transportation and travel and are actively choosing to holiday at home or closer to home.”
About the Author
JoAnna Haugen is an award winning writer, speaker, and solutions advocate who has worked in the travel and tourism industry for almost 15 years.
She is also founder of Rooted, a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, social impact, and storytelling.
A returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, international election observer, and intrepid traveler, JoAnna is always on the hunt for her next great adventure.