52017May

Britain’s longest walking trails

Britain is home to some of the most beautiful walks. Venture through stunning countryside or striking cities, along valleys and coastal paths, across rivers and streams, or through fields and woodlands. If you’re up for a real challenge, why not try one of Britain’s longest walks?

How Far?

We’ve listed some of the longest walks in Britain. Here’s a quick look at how long they are, their difficulty and how long they can take.

Pennine Way – 267 miles

Start: Edale, Derbyshire

Finish: Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders

Difficulty: Severe

Average time of completion: 18-21 days


The Ridgeway – 86 miles

Start: Overton Hill, Wiltshire

Finish: Ivinghoe Beacon Buckinghamshire

Difficulty: Easy

Average time of completion: 5-7 days


South Downs Way – 99 miles

Start: Winchester, Hampshire

Finish: Eastbourne, East Sussex

Difficulty: Moderate

Average time of completion: 7-9 days

Cotswold Way Length – 102 miles

Start: Bath

Finish: Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

Difficulty: Moderate, strenuous in places

Average time of completion: 7-8 days


Thames Path – 183 miles

Start: Source of the Thames, near Kemble, Gloucestershire

Finish: The Thames Flood Barrier, Charlton, London

Difficulty: Easy

Average time of completion: 12-14 days


Wolds Way – 79 miles

Start: Hessle Haven

Finish: Filey

Difficulty: Easy

Average time of completion: 5-6 days


A brief look at just one, the longest!

Ever heard the saying that it’s the journey that’s important, not the end point. Well, you couldn’t be more right when it comes to the longest National Trail in the country. At 630 miles, it’s all about the adventure on route.

South West Coast Path was created by coastguards who would patrol the south west peninsula looking out for smugglers. Their well-used route is what has given us the path we use today. Starting in Somerset and ending at Poole Harbour it’s a beautiful trip around the South West coast line. This walk is considered quite strenuous and severe in places, which isn’t surprising considering its length! Some take on the challenge to complete in 30 days, but with plenty of picturesque towns and villages on route you can set your own pace and perhaps look at completing it over 7-8 weeks.

To keep you going along the way there is plenty of history and culture to explore as well as the wildlife, which if you’re lucky, could include spotting seals and dolphins.

Check out an overview of the route below.

The South West Coast Path route

Planning your walk

Planning is essential for any walk. But with long distance walking, you need to ensure that you are prepared and have everything you’ll need. Especially a map, (you don’t want to go the long way round a 630 mile route!)

To get you started we’ve listed a few things that you’ll need to consider:

Fit for purpose?

Fitness must be a major consideration for a long walk that could include difficult climbs or other obstacles. Start out initially with walks that are within your capability. Maybe starting with a short section of a walk will allow you to move onto the marathon distances after gaining experience. The choice is yours – start at 2 miles and work towards completing the full journey over time. You should also be prepared to take advice from those who have experienced some of the downsides to distance walking.

What to wear

Obviously outer clothing will depend on the weather. Your own comfort and well-being must be your feet in particular. Comfortable, well designed walking boots that give support are essential. Along with a few decent pairs of socks. Maybe consider either a woolly hat for the winter winds or a sun hat so you don’t get burnt on the warmer days. If required, perhaps some gloves, and as this is Britain, the chances of rain are pretty high, so waterproofs may be a good idea.

Equipment

There’s quite a lot that can help you when on a long distance walk. We’ve created a checklist to make it easier for you to make sure you have all you need.

  • Compass
  • Maps / Guidebooks
  • Pen Highlighter pen (if you want to draw your route on your maps) and Paper
  • Lighter
  • Mobile phone – don’t forget the charger
  • Small pair of binoculars
  • Small Swiss army knife
  • Small torch (with new batteries)
  • Camping/cooking gear: if you’re staying on route
  • Booking documents for hotels and lodges
  • Toiletries/spare clothes
  • Food supplies
  • Water bottle
  • A comfortably fitting rucksack leaves both hands free
  • Spare shoelaces
  • Sun glasses
  • A good Watch
  • Any special medicines you might need
  • First aid kit which also includes antiseptic cream and plasters
  • Insect repellent
  • Knee supports
  • Lip balm
  • Muscle sprain cream
  • Sun cream
  • whistle to call when all is lost

Something a little different?

For a walk that’s a little different from the norm, why not try exploring the depths of London. The London Underground is a maze of tunnels but why not explore the treasures waiting to be discovered walking between its stations above ground.

Take a look at Tube Walker to discover the walks following the London Underground network. The author of the site has walked all the lines and documented his findings, listing points of interest, distances and routes. Why not give it a go, the shortest walk is just 2.1 mile but still contains 20 points of interest, whilst the mammoth excursion along the Piccadilly line is 82 miles with the possible viewing of 203 points of interest!

Go the Distance

Where ever you decide to walk, long distance walking is a lovely way to enjoy the sights of Britain in a whole new light. And you’ll get a huge sense of accomplishment when you finally reach the end point, but as previously mentioned, it’s the journey that counts.