The Old Rectory on the Lake, Gwynedd
At the foot of the imposing Cadair Idris mountains, the Old Rectory in Tal-y-Llyn offers access to Snowdonia’s quieter southern reaches, as well as good walking around the nearby market town of Machynlleth, including Glyndŵr’s Way National Trail. Two of the B&B’s four attractive lake-view rooms have big, free-standing baths, ideal for an end-of-walk soak, or muscles can be soothed in the hot tub outside.
Walks An easy 2-mile trail loops around Tal-y-Llyn lake – look out for otters. A tougher haul is the climb up 893-metre Cadair Idris along the Minffordd Path via Llyn Cau (6 miles).
• Double from £100 B&B, rectoryonthelake.co.uk
Lee Byre, Devon
This old barn house in Coryton, just west of Dartmoor, has three bright guest rooms, with exposed beams, bucolic views and water from the on-site spring. Owners Guy and Kathrin are keen hikers and can give trail advice or lead guided walks, day and night. Breakfast features fresh-laid eggs and homemade honey; packed lunches with local produce can be ordered, too.
Walks Make a circuit from nearby Peter Tavy across the moors, via the bronze age stone rows near Merrivale (11 miles). Hike from Mary Tavy to Gibbet Hill and Wheal Betsy (5 miles).
• Double from £75 B&B; guided day walk £60pp; guided star trek £30pp; leebyre.com
Cottage Lodge, Hampshire
Christina Simons, owner of this cosy hotel near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, has created several self-guided walking routes direct from the front door, most including a good pub pit-stop. The lodge has 16 rooms, two of which are dog-friendly, and much of the furniture is made by a local sculptor from fallen New Forest trees.
Walks To Lyndhurst via Standing Hat woods (7 miles), looking out for deer; walk or get the bus back. Catch a train from Brockenhurst to coastal Lymington for a 3-mile walk through Keyhaven marshes, a good place to see migrating birds.
• Double from £70 B&B, cottagelodge.co.uk
North Lees Campsite, Derbyshire
Immersion in the Peak District’s big views and birdsong is possible year-round at this site beneath the gritstone escarpment of Stanage Edge. Winter stays (Thursday-Sunday only) are more palatable in the new pods – wooden huts with french doors, lighting, heating and insulation but little else (though one easy-access pod has a mattress and height-adjustable bed). The pay-off for a little privation is excellent walking right off the veranda.
Walks The site is a 1½-mile walk from train-served Hathersage. Make a 10-mile loop from Hathersage up along Stanage, for views across the Derwent valley.
• Camping pod from £28 for one, £7 per additional adult, peakdistrict.gov.uk
Fraoch Lodge, Cairngorms
Run by Andy Scot, who can lead hikes or suggest a hundred routes, Fraoch Lodge is tailormade for walkers, with its simple good-value rooms, a library of guides, daily mountain forecasts, a drying room and a log fire-warmed lounge. Plus the location is ideal: at Boat of Garten, close to Aviemore, on the Speyside Way, with 30 Munros within an hour’s drive.
Walks Follow the Speyside Way from Boat of Garten through Caledonian pine forest to reach Nethy Bridge (4½ miles). Tackle the tough, crowd-free northern ridge of Cairngorm, Scotland’s sixth-highest summit (8 miles).
• Double from £42 B&B, two-night minimum stay, scotmountainholidays.com
Portrush Holiday Hostel, County Antrim
Hike right into the Game of Thrones from this bright, budget, family-run bolthole on the Causeway Coast in Portrush, which starred in the series. Rooms – dorms and private, mostly en suite – are decked out in cheery colours. There’s a communal kitchen stocked with help-yourself breakfast goodies, plus free parking, bike storage and both bus and train options within a few minutes’ walk.
Walks East along the Causeway Coast from Portrush to Bushmills (6½ miles), via Dunluce Castle; the Giant’s Causeway is 2 miles further on. Westwards, follow the undulating coast for 6 miles to the sweeping strand and teashops of Portstewart.
• Dorm bed from £15 B&B, double from £40 B&B, portrushholidayhostel.com
Clachaig Inn, Scottish Highlands
Hikers welcome? You’re more of an oddity if you haven’t spent a day hefting up Munros at Clachaig. This Glencoe inn is a Highlands legend. The 23 rooms are comfy and unfussy, but more appealing are the ale barrels, live bands and outdoorsy bonhomie in the Boots Bar, where walkers chat over single malts and Stornoway black pudding.
Walks A gentle 1½-mile woodland route from the inn visits Signal Rock, where the call was given to begin the 1692 Glencoe Massacre. An exposed 8-mile climb from Glencoe up Buachaille Etive Mòr affords views of Rannoch Moor and Glen Etive.
• Double from £106pn B&B, clachaig.com
The White Hart, Gloucestershire
Quintessentially Cotswolds scenery – rolling hills, honey-stone villages – lies around the wool town of Winchcombe, where the smart White Hart offers good value. As well as en suites, the inn has three “ramblers’ rooms” that are a bargain for those who don’t mind sharing a bathroom. Walking options are varied: Winchcombe is at the intersection of the Cotswold Way, Gloucestershire Way and other footpaths, with buses to aid linear strolls.
Walks Climb south from Winchcombe to Cleeve Hill (7 miles), the Cotswolds’ highest point. Stride 13½ miles north along the Cotswold Way to handsome Broadway, via the Mount Inn in Stanton.
• Double from £40 B&B, whitehartwinchcombe.co.uk
South Downs Bunk House, West Sussex
Halfway along the South Downs Way, in Houghton in the Arun Valley, this flint-barn-turned-bunkhouse on Houghton Farm couldn’t be better placed. Amberley train station is just 15 minutes’ walk away; there are two quality pubs even closer. It has four dorms (with a plug and USB socket for each bed) plus a smart communal kitchen and a barbecue outside. For walkers wanting more privacy, the owners also run Arun Valley B&B in the farmhouse, across the courtyard.
Walks Head west along the South Downs Way to Cocking (12 miles), past Bignor’s Roman ruins. Make the short climb up Bury Hill, then down to Houghton’s George & Dragon.
• Dorm bed from £24, southdownsbunkhouse.co.uk; double in Arun Valley B&B from £110, arunvalleybandb.co.uk
Land’s End Holidays, Cornwall
Walkers could stroll right off the country here – Britain’s south-westernmost point is half a mile from this hostel/B&B. A converted barn in Trevescan, near Sennen, it has dorms and private rooms, kitchen, shop and even a roastery selling single-origin coffee. It feels remote, but the A1 bus stops 45 metres away, connecting to Penzance and other villages.
Walks Pick up the South West Coast Path and head east along spectacular cliffs to Porthcurno (5 miles) or Mousehole (12 miles), both served by the A1. The 23 miles between Land’s End and St Ives offer some of the UK’s very best coastal walking.
• Dorm bed from £30, double from £65 room-only, landsendholidays.co.uk
Deepdale Backpackers, Norfolk
This is the de facto HQ of the Norfolk Coast Path. Sat between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea, Deepdale’s simple, tidy dorms and private rooms occupy a converted stableyard. There’s a laundry and drying room, an info centre stocked with maps and guides, and a cafe serving fry-ups and takeaway picnics. The handy year-round Coastliner 36 bus services stops right outside.
Walks Follow the Norfolk Coast Path west along the salt marshes to Brancaster, then on to the reedbeds and lagoons of RSPB Titchwell Marsh (around 6 miles). Head east from Deepdale to reach Wells, via the seemingly endless sands of Holkham Bay (7 miles).
• Dorm bed from £15, en suite double from £50 room-only, deepdalebackpackers.co.uk
Argo Villa B&B, Pembrokeshire
It says much about the walker-friendliness of this neat Teifi estuary B&B that 70% of its guests arrive on foot. Argo sits at the start/end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path at St Dogmeaels, and is owned by passionate hikers Gill and Antosh who have created a weather-resistant map of local routes. Breakfasts are award-winning and the Poppit Rocket bus will stop outside – just ask the driver to drop you at the “blue house”.
Walk: Follow the cliffs south from St Dogmaels to bus-accessible Moylgrove (7 miles) or Newport (16 miles). Inland, an undulating 8-mile circuit links the Welsh Wildlife Centre and Cilgerran castle.
• Double from £80 B&B, argovilla.co.uk
The Saracens Head, Herefordshire
There are 1,000-plus miles of footpaths to choose from in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Helpfully, the Saracens Head in Symonds Yat East has created its own walking guide, featuring routes from its front door. This old inn sits on the Wye, where the river sweeps into the Forest of Dean around Symonds Yat Rock. Seven of the nine modern rooms have river views, while the bar, which serves local ales and ciders, has a riverside terrace.
Walks The short hike up Yat Rock provides the classic Wye Valley view. A moderate 10-mile walk west along the river to Monmouth involves crossing the Wye via the hand-pulled ferry.
• Double from £90 B&B, saracensheadinn.co.uk
Wood House B&B, Cumbria
Featured in a Turner painting, elegant Wood House sits just above Buttermere, in the quietest part of the Lake District, with no other houses in sight. The three guest rooms don’t have TVs, they have lake views instead. Order a picnic and stroll by Crummock Water or ascend a high fell. For good days, there’s a patio with barbecue; for less clement weather, the wide-windowed drawing room has an open fire. There is also a three-bedroom cottage, which can be can be booked on a B&B or self-catering basis.
Walks Make a pilgrimage to Haystacks (5 miles), where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes were scattered. A nine-mile ridge route along the Buttermere Fells leads via Scale Force (the Lakes’ highest waterfall) to reach High Crag.
• Double from £132 B&B, woodhousebuttermere.uk
Enniskeen Country House Hotel, County Down
You can almost touch the Mourne mountains from this 19th-century manor. Its 12 traditionally styled rooms gaze up at Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain; others look over the Irish sea – and the turret room does both. Just outside the harbour town of Newcastle, Enniskeen is exceptionally walker-friendly, with a dehumidifier-aided drying room, stacks of maps, options to order lunches and thermos flasks and pick-up/drop-off services.
Walks Easy trails lead around the 12-acre estate, along the Shimna river and into Tollymore Forest. More testing is the 26-mile Mourne Way, which runs across the mountains from Newcastle to Rostrevor.
• Double from £100 B&B, enniskeenhotel.co.uk
The Black Bull, Cumbria
The Howgill Fells are often overlooked for the more-lauded Lake District. But just west (between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales), this is some of Britain’s best and quietest countryside, described by Alfred Wainwright as resembling “a herd of sleeping elephants”. The Black Bull, a 17th-century coaching house tastefully revamped in 2018, sits in the market town of Sedbergh, at the foot of the Howgills; each of its 18 bedrooms, well-dressed in local rugs and mugs and toiletries, is named after a fell.
Walks Hike via 180-metre Cautley Spout to The Calf, the Howgills’ highest point (11 miles). Or walk west of Sedbergh, mixing open fell, the Dales Way and Lune Viaduct (7 miles).
• Double from £125 B&B, theblackbullsedbergh.co.uk
Eighteen97, North Yorkshire
The OS map wallpaper in the dining room of Eighteen97 is a good sign. This luxe B&B, built from a derelict old church in Goathland, sits at the heart of the North York Moors – and at the heart of good walking country. Order a hikers’ picnic and ramble right from the door, or use the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or 840 Coastliner bus – its route was voted Britain’s most scenic in 2018 – to ramble further afield.
Walks The 3.3 mile Goathland-Grosmont Rail Trail follows one of England’s first railways; return on foot or by steam train. Or take the bus to Whitby for walks along Cleveland’s heritage coast.
• Double from £100 B&B, northyorkshire-bedandbreakfast.co.uk
Spindrift Barn, Somerset
Tucked away near Exford in Exmoor national park (but with a pub in walking distance), Spindrift Barn is surrounded by trails; endowed with extras – in this case, , and with a drying room, log-burner and sauna. It faces the River Exe and nudges the Two Moors Way, with other footpaths spidering off over the valleys and moors. Guided hikes are available, as are route notes for self-guided forays. Picnic hampers feature goodies from the owners’ smallholding; “pony picnics” are carried by their Exmoor pony.
Walks Follow the Room Hill Circuit (4½ miles), via Road Castle iron age hill fort. An 8-mile trail from Malmsmead traverses Lorna Doone country.
• Barn from £110, sleeps two, two-night minimum; guided walks from £50; wildaboutexmoor.com
The YHA at The Sill, Northumberland
Opened with a fanfare in 2017, this slick hostel at Bardon Mill sits below Steel Rigg, one of the most striking sections of Hadrian’s Wall. The building is also striking, with its dry-stone walls, timber sides and green roof. Rooms – some en suite, some designed for disabled guests – have two or four beds; renewable energy is used throughout. There are also useful facilities next door: the Sill Discovery Centre, good for planning and info, and the Twice Brewed Inn, good for brewed-on-site ales.
Walks Take an 8-mile hike along Hadrian’s Wall, including Sycamore Gap and Housesteads Roman fort. A gentler 4½ mile walk loops Greenlee Lough Nature Reserve.
• Dorm bed from £15, private room from £25, yha.org.uk
The Old Store, Powys
Come walkers one and all. The serenely flat Brecon & Monmouthshire Canal tickles the Old Store’s garden in Llanfrynach, while the bulbous Brecon Beacons loom across the valley and a trail up their highest peak Pen y Fan runs from the door. Owner Peter likes guests to treat his cosy, creaky house like a home. Nose through the abundant books and eat breakfast – featuring eggs from his own hens – anytime; guests are also welcome to use the kitchen.
Walks All 35 miles of canal towpath are walkable. A strenuous 15-mile circuit runs from Llanfrynach to Bwlch y Ddwyallt and the summits of Fan y Big, Cribyn and Pen y Fan.
• Double from £90 B&B, sawdays.co.uk
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