Walk England's Grand Tour from North to South

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At a Glance

Embark on the holiday of a lifetime, with this 10-night fully guided walking tour of England.

Visit the iconic birthplaces of Shakespeare and Churchill. Explore the Roman city of Bath, the Cotswolds’ rolling hills and the wild Cornish headlands that inspired Poldark. Conquer the Lake District’s famous Catbells and climb the limestone cliffs of Yorkshire’s Malham Cove.

With so much history and heritage to enjoy, welcoming groups of likeminded adventurers and a friendly local guide leading you every step of the way, this grand tour is the perfect way to discover England.

Your Itinerary

Arrive into York railway station late-morning, where our friendly Active England guide will be on hand to meet and transfer you to the outstanding Black Sheep Brewery in Masham for lunch. In the afternoon, we head into the picture-postcard landscape of the Yorkshire Dales. Passing dry-stone walls and sheep-filled fields, we walk to the picturesque market town of Hawes, one of the highest towns in England and our home for the next two nights.

Today we head deep into the Dales, stopping first at to Malham Cove. An enormous white limestone cliff, shaped by glaciers over millions of years into the amphitheatre that we see today, you’ll quickly see why it’s celebrated as one of England’s most iconic natural landmarks. From here, we continue to Gordale Scar, a magical limestone ravine containing two stunning waterfalls, before ending our day with a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery. Famous for producing delicious artisan cheese in the very heart of the Dales, this is sure to be a favourite stop for any foodies among the group.

We transfer this morning to the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and England’s largest National Park. Staying in the bustling market town of Keswick, our route today takes us up the famous Catbells. Known for its steep climb and spectacular views of Borrowdale and Derwentwater, this particular peak is easily one of the most popular in all of the Lakes. After reaching the summit, the descent will bring us to the far end of Derwentwater, where we’ll take to the water and catch a relaxing ferry back to Keswick.

We set out today on a looped walk of the Buttermere ring, famous for its glorious setting among the dramatic amphitheatre of northern fells and without doubt one of the most stunning Lake District valleys. Tracing the edge of the mirrorlike lake, we end today’s walk by returning to Keswick, where we’ll enjoy a pint of local ale and dinner in one of this lively little town’s many excellent restaurants.

We transfer this morning to Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands and the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. Taking plenty of time to explore, with a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace and the church in which he’s buried, we then walk into the Cotswolds. Winding our way through quiet country lanes and over rolling hills, we visit the quintessential English town of Chipping Campden and the beautiful Hidcote Gardens, internationally renowned for its collection of incredible outdoor “rooms.” Our accommodation for the next two evenings is in the charming market town of Moreton-in-Marsh.

Today we begin with coffee at Daylesford Organic, the most exclusive farm shop in the Cotswolds, before travelling through idyllic countryside to Blenheim Palace. Winston Churchill’s birthplace and a World Heritage Site, we eat lunch overlooking the Capability Brown parklands, and take some time during the afternoon to explore the historic palace and the gorgeous 2,000-acre estate. With the day drawing to a close, we return once more to Moreton-in-Marsh.


Leaving the Cotswolds behind, we transfer to Bath, stopping along the way to see King Charles III’s famous gardens at Highgrove. Walking into the city via a 2,000-year-old Roman road, our Active England guide will lead you on a tour of all this historic location has to offer. From the Roman Baths, one of the world’s best-preserved Roman remains, to the Royal Crescent overlooking the city, you’ll quickly find that there’s no shortage of incredible landmarks in which to immerse yourself.

We spend today in Bath, allowing all the time you need to visit the city’s various restaurants, theatres, galleries and shops. If you need help finding your way, or simply making the most of your time here, our Active England guides will be on hand to provide all the local knowledge you might need. Or if you’d prefer, feel free to simply to indulge in some R&R at our accommodation, the luxurious Francis Hotel.

We transfer to Cornwall, where we’ll spend the remainder of our grand tour enjoying golden beaches, rugged cliffs and pretty coastal villages. Beginning on the famous Camel Trail, our walk today takes us toward the gorgeous harbour town of Padstow. One of the most enticing destinations in all of Cornwall, and a famous culinary haven, we’ll take plenty of time to explore, before ending the day with a supper of fresh-caught fish and chips on the harbour wall.

Setting out from Padstow, today we head inland, walking upon the wild headlands that inspired Poldark, before winding our way back via Cornwall’s famous northern coastline. Walking the idyllic beaches of Polzeath and Daymer Bay, we’ll pass the partially buried St Enodoc Church, visit the small seaside village of Rock and catch the foot ferry across the glistening waters of the Camel Estuary back to Padstow. With our grand tour coming to an end, we’ll celebrate one last evening together with dinner at Rick Stein’s famous seafood restaurant.

After a relaxed breakfast, our guides will transport you to Bodmin Parkway railway station, where we say our farewells and provide any help you might need with your onward travel.


Handpicked Accommodation

Hawes - Yorkshire Dales

Hawes – Yorkshire Dales

The Stone House
A classic country house built in 1908 on the sunny side of the valley near the charming market town of Hawes. It is a fine constructed house that retains the atmosphere and furnishings of an elegant family home and provides the perfect setting in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Keswick - Lake District

Keswick - Lake District

Borrowdale Gates Hotel
Originally a magnificent private residence, the Borrowdale Gates Hotel maintains the lovely, homely atmosphere of a genuine country house. Set in its own 3 acres of wooded grounds at the head of Derwentwater facing south into the Jaws of Borrowdale, it’s no surprise that Alfred Wainwright described it as the “loveliest square mile in Lakeland”.

The Manor House Hotel, Burford

Moreton-in-Marsh - Cotswolds

The Manor House Hotel
The Manor House Hotel, Moreton in Marsh, is an enchanting 16th Century Cotswold retreat where you can both indulge and relax in a homely atmosphere.

The Francis Hotel, Bath


The Francis Hotel
A Grade I listed building with a history of hospitality, this Georgian getaway offers a quintessential retreat in a coveted position moments from the most popular sights of the great British spa city.

Padstow - Cornwall
The Francis Hotel, Bath

Padstow - Cornwall

Harbour Hotel
Perched proudly above the picturesque port of Padstow, our revamped Victorian hotel offers views over the Camel estuary, relaxed waterside all-day dining and easy access to the bustling town and harbour, making it the perfect spot for exploring foodie Padstow on foot. It has even been named one of the best hotels in Cornwall by the Times.

What our guides say...

Everything you could wish for on a trip of a lifetime.

  • All accommodation as indicated on the itinerary
  • All breakfasts and x5 dinners (excluding dinner drinks)
  • Walking poles
  • GPS routes, provided via RideWithGPS (app available for Apple or Android)
  • All special events, iconic points of interests and entrance fees – Entry into The Black Sheep Brewery, Wensleydale Cheese Factory, Honister Slate Mine, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Hidcote Gardens, Blenheim Palace, King Charles’ Gardens, The Roman Baths
  • All transportation from rendezvous to farewell locations
  • All baggage transportation
  • All gratuities for baggage, porters and hotel service
  • Services of a professional local guide

We have handpicked the best family run, independent and country hotels, pubs and guest houses. Cosy and with informal dining, these country hotels are friendly and relaxed, with great menus with locally sourced food and ales. Our handpicked accommodation is 3* with the option to upgrade to 4* for an additional cost.

This tour is rated moderate, meaning it’s appropriate for guests who enjoy a good walk and can handle an incline or two. We cover varied terrain, enjoying some rolling hills and a few steeper walks which are slightly more demanding. Your holiday, however, will be tailored by your guide to suit your individual preferences. Daily distances range from 4-10 miles. Rewarding views are guaranteed!

We’ll provide walking poles if required.

Pick-up location: York railway station. Our holidays are designed to be completely stress-free, with the start of our tours sitting within easy reach of London, Bristol or the Midlands. This tour begins from York, a direct 2-hour train journey out of London.

End-of-tour location: Bodmin Parkway railway station, a direct 4.5-hour train journey from London Paddington. If you would like to stay in London for a few extra days, we have city tours available and a list of 4* and 5* partner hotels. Get in touch to find how we can extend your adventure.

What’s the best way to get to the start of the trip?

All of our trips are designed to be easily accessible via public transport and start from train stations served by direct trains from London Paddington. Similarly we’ll transfer you back to a train station at the end of your trip. We’re always happy to help with travel arrangements.

How hilly is England?

There are hills but that also means views! We’ll also make sure you a rewarded with cake and other delicious local food.

Can I join this trip as a solo traveller?

All our trips are open for single travellers to join. You will have a great time on our walking tours whether travelling on your own, as a couple, family or group, meeting like-minded people on our guided trips, or choosing your own adventure on our self-guided tours. “As a single female, I would not hesitate to go on another Active England trip as a solo traveller”. S.G.

Why go on a guided holiday?
Our guides are the beating heart of our tours and can make all the difference to the enjoyment of your walking holiday – so we make sure to choose them VERY carefully! They are driven, knowledgeable, know how to have A LOT of fun and importantly will take you on the ‘road less travelled’ across England. They are know the best spots for making your walking tour truly different and truly magical!

What’s the weather like in England?

Changeable! Devon & Cornwall has a much more tropical climate than the rest of England so it is often warmer and wetter – it’s not uncommon to have sunshine and showers in the same day, or even the same hour! It’s generally very pleasant and settled during the summer. It can be a little cooler up North, so we’d recommend layers and waterproofs. And we always recommend suncream, even on a cloudy day!

Make this trip private

Our private tours offer complete freedom to customize your trip. Base your tour on one of our scheduled departures, or tailor a bespoke experience to match your every expectation. We love combining our knowledge of England with our expertise in planning and delivering the best adventure trips.

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Carbon Footprint

What’s the Number?
Nearly everything has a carbon footprint. Together with ecollective, we’ve measured the carbon impact of not only every tour we operate but our entire business. We’ve taken into account greenhouse gas emissions across the business including office, travel, website, vehicles, accommodation, activities, food, suppliers…

What does the number mean?
We’re going to improve this by measuring and reducing our footprint each year. That means working with our suppliers to make changes that have a more positive impact on us and the planet. What does this look like in reality?

  • Redesign trips to reduce our carbon impact
  • Working closely with all our suppliers across England to join us on our decarbonisation journey
  • Switching up our vehicle fleet to electric
  • Investing in projects that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere for any emissions that remain.

We’ve got a long way to go but we’re on our way to net-zero
We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We’ve taken ownership of our carbon footprint and are on a mission to reduce our emissions year on year.

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