Senior group on hiking holiday

The popularity of walking holidays is increasing among over-50s

Baby boomers put striding out along coasts and mountains ahead of a getaway to popular sunshine beach resorts, new research shows.

The popularity of walking in this age group is only surpassed as a choice of holiday by short city breaks or sightseeing trips to view places of cultural or historic interest, the study for specialist travel operator HM Holidays discovered.

Interest in walking tours has risen by 40 per cent, along with activity-based holidays run such as wildlife, art and cookery courses run in conjunction with walking tours.

The growing popularity of trekking through the countryside both here in the UK and abroad comes as the over 50 year olds look to take more adventurous active holidays.

The great thing about walking is that you don’t need any special skills or equipment to do it

HF Holidays’ Chief Executive, Jim Forward

The study reveals almost twice as many of this age group now take health and well-being into consideration when planning a break, compared to 12 months ago.

Over half, 53 per cent, said walking holidays gave them a chance to explore the countryside, while 47 per cent said it relaxed them and 43 per cent said it provided the chance to reconnect with nature.

When asked what was important about a walking holiday, the quality of companionship, camaraderie and accommodation at the end of the day, ranked almost as highly as the experience of the walk itself, mentioned by two thirds of the 2000 respondents quizzed for the study.

Travel industry figures show overall interest in walking holidays in the UK was up 7 per cent and to European destinations up 8.5 per cent last year.

A man helping a woman climbing up rock

The quality of companionship and camaraderie was ranked very high by the respondents of the study

Booking by groups of female friends rose by 11 per cent, while the number of single men taking part in UK organised treks increased by 18 per cent.

Two thirds (65 per cent) of those who expressed an interest in walking or cycling holidays viewed these types of getaways as more environmentally responsible than other leisure breaks and six out of ten (61 per cent) emphasised the social benefits of being with a group of like-minded people.

This was especially true of those aged over 65, with 33 per cent expressing interest in a walking holiday, saying it provided an opportunity to meet people and make new friends.

Additional research from the Government’s Department of Transport shows how walking for recreation has overtaken walking through necessity, or purely practical reasons, such as to get to work or to the shops.

Lake District

Striding Edge arete and Helvellyn mountain peak, Lake District, Cumbria

The study declared the assent of Helvellyn in the Lake District as the most popular walk in Britain.

HF Holidays’ Chief Executive, Jim Forward said: “The rising number of both men and women enjoying walking holidays, both at home and abroad, is a reflection of growing numbers of people wanting to take more active leisure breaks.

“We are leading more sedentary lives than our parents did, and walking is not only good for our own wellbeing, it has led more people to choose walking holidays as an easy, companionable way to see more of the countryside both in the UK and further afield.

“The great thing about walking is that you don’t need any special skills or equipment to do it, and at HF Holidays we offer a wide range of walking holidays to suit all levels of fitness, from beginners who are happy to walk at a leisurely pace, to those who can stride out for miles. An added bonus is that so many people on these holidays end up making deep and lasting friendships.”

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