United Kingdom


Mull - by Henk

Hiking, most likely, was invented in the UK. Scores of 19th century romantic novelists described their country through the eyes of their key figures walking the paths of their countryside! Still today, the British Isles are very welcoming to walkers. We admit, it does rain now and again. But such lovely nature is the result, with forever green, lush meadows and hills dotted with sheep. Always keep in mind: bad weather doesn't exist, only bad clothing. So put on your coat and discover the thousands of miles of British long distance footpaths.

All British long distance footpaths are worth walking, but some stand out in popularity. The Coast to Coast Path in the north of England, crossing the famous Lake District and two other national parks, is one of these. Another is the South West Coast Path, almost 600 miles of rugged coast, seagulls and fish'n chips. If you prefer to set out your own trail, Scotland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides are the place to go. The UK is also home to the so-called Peak Baggers, folk who will not rest before they have climbed every hill over 3000 feet (the Munroes).

Some 19 footpaths comprise the so called "National Trails", and you can decide they are more rewarding than others. Bear in mind that this is not the case; other trails can be of equal beauty. The popular Coast to Coast Path has no official status whatsoever! Anyway, here are the 19 National Trails:

  1. South West coast Path, 631 miles, 1016 km, 45 days
  2. Pennine Way, 270 miles, 435 km, 18 days
  3. Thames Path, 183 miles, 294 km, 11 days
  4. North Downs Way, 152 miles, 245 km, 11 days
  5. Pennine Bridleway, 121 miles, 195 km, 7 days
  6. Cleveland Way, 109 miles, 176 km, 9 days
  7. Cotswold Way, 102 miles, 164 km, 7 days
  8. South Downs Way, 101 miles, 163 km, 6 days
  9. Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, 93 miles, 149 km, 7 days
  10. The Ridgeway, 87 miles, 139 km, 6 days
  11. Hadrian's Wall Path, 84 miles, 135 km, 6 days
  12. Yorkshire Wolds Way, 79 miles, 127 km, 6 days

So far England, now Wales:

  1. Pembrokeshire Coast Path, 186 miles, 299 km, 12 days
  2. Offa's Dyke Path, 177 miles, 285 km, 11 days
  3. Glyndwr's Way, 132 miles, 213 km, 9 days

And four so called Long Distance Routes in Scotland:

  1. Southern Upland Way, 212 miles, 341 km, 12 days
  2. West Highland Way, 95 miles, 153 km, 6 days
  3. Speyside Way, 84 miles, 135 km, 6 days
  4. Great Glen Way, 73 miles, 117 km, 6 days

Ordnance Survey publishes maps, and there are trail guidebooks of most footpaths. The guides usually include detailed maps, so you won't have to buy these separately. All footpaths are meticulously waymarked. Although British mountains are not as challenging as the Alps, when walking the mountains of Scotland and Wales be prepared for sudden spells of wind, rain and dropping temperatures during all seasons. Hypothermia and exhaustion are a real danger, so bring proper clothes. When walking more remote trails, also bring a tent and camping gear, including protective measures against the legendary midges; tiny mosquito's that will attack relentlessly during the long summer evenings. In more populated areas you will find lodging at regular intervals, such as B&B's, Youth Hostels and hotels.


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Cicerone Press
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