Top railway walks in the UK

Activity, Walking

Padstow's popular Camel River Trail

Railway walks are perfect for those of you who may have put their fell walking or mountain climbing days behind you. Or do you have a few little ones in tow and are looking for a great place to walk or cycle at leisure with your family? Perhaps you’re just looking for a milder pace. Either way, we think that railway walks are a fantastic way of engaging with the great outdoors without having to step off the tarmac.

In most cases railway walks can be picked up easily from the centre of towns and the terrain is often quite level. When the infamous Dr Beeching was axing the railways across the UK in the 1960s, the first lines to go were situated in the more remote and rural parts. So, even though it wasn’t by design, most of our best railway walks run through attractive British countryside. Railway walks simply follow the course of an old track, often running for miles, uninterrupted by road traffic through deep countryside.

Most of the paths below are rurally set but one or two live within an urban setting, which is unusual given the premium set on land in inner cities. You never know, you may holiday or live close to one. Traces of old railway buildings and bridges are all around us. Time to explore!

The Tarka Trail, North Devon – 30 miles

OK, call us biased, as the Tarka Trail runs right past our offices here in Bideford, but we think this railway walk is definitely one of the very best in the UK.

The paved part of the 180 mile long Tarka Trail runs the 30 miles between surfer hub Braunton, near Croyde Bay in the north, to Meeth, near Dartmoor to the south. For the most part, the trail follows the course of two rivers, the Taw and the Torridge. From the stunning beaches to deep woodlands, from ancient bridges to old signal boxes, trains with carriages, lime kiln ruins, and the remains of a unique sea lock, the Tarka Trail is a not only a great excursion for leisure seekers but it’s also rich in history if you’re a rail enthusiast.

Popular with cyclists, the trail is well serviced by bike hire shops at Bideford, Barnstaple and Great Torrington too, so it’s possible to take in the trail over several days.

We have some lovely holiday cottages in North Devon.

The Camel River Trail, Cornwall – 18 miles

The Camel River Trail follows an exceptionally beautiful route through rural Cornwall. The western end begins close to the sea in Padstow. Old platforms and bridges haunt the hedgerows, mixed in with bird hides to view river waders on the Camel River, as the trail snakes its way inland to Wadebridge.

Wadebridge marks the half way point along the trail and it’s a great place to seek some food and drink. The terrain changes as the land becomes wooded before finally opening out when the path reaches its destination at Bodmin.

Known to have been poet John Betjeman’s (who lived in Rock, across the Camel estuary) favourite train journey, it’s still a popular favourite with walkers and family cyclists from all around the world.

No matter where you want to stay in Cornwall, we have a property to suit you.

Parkland Walk, London – 4 miles

Formerly two sections of a railway line that serviced Crouch End, Alexandra Palace and others, Parkland Walk in north London is part of a larger circular called the Better Haringey Walking Trail. It also doubles as London’s ‘longest’ local nature reserve. The walk is home to 2,000 species of wild flower as well as foxes, hedgehogs and other rural beasties who have made quaint urban enclaves like this their home. Although it’s situated in the hilliest part of London the trail is fairly flat and has access for wheelchairs and bicycles. The Parkland Walk can give you the illusion that you’re deep in the countryside, so it serves as great getaway from city life without actually leaving London!

We have some great coastal cottages located within a few short hours of central London.

The Monsal Trail, Peak District – 8.5 miles

Monsal Viaduct is one of the finest and most photographed railway bridges in the UK. Situated on the 8.5 mile trail through the Peak District, the Monsal Trail is a good example of an easier walk in a region more associated with treks and climbs. You can pick the trail up anywhere between Buxton and Bakewell and there’s good wheelchair access at both.

You can see the ruins from the industrial revolution up to the mid-20th century including mills, lime kilns, and workers cottages all over.

We have some lovely properties in the Peak District.

Mawddach Trail, West Wales – 9.5 miles

Lesser known, but no less amazing is the circular Mawddach Trail between Barmouth on the coast and Dolgellau, 9.5 miles inland along the southern edge of the river estuary.

The whole estuary area is listed as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and there are two RSPB reserves near the trail too (Arthog and Taicynhaeaf). Ever popular with families with young children, cyclists and ramblers, the Mawdacch Trail must be included on your itinerary when holidaying in West Wales.

We manage some beautiful holiday homes in Wales.

Other railway trails to discover:

- Speyside, Scotland

- Innocent Railway, Central Edinburgh, Scotland

- Marriott’s Way and Bure Valley Railway, Norfolk

- Rodwell Way, Dorset

Book one of our beautiful holiday cottages to discover more about railway walks across the UK.

Posted by Ed on 16th March 2017