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Top 10 Walks in the UK

As walking holidays gain momentum in popularity, we thought we would give a run down of some of the most popular routes in the UK. Some of these can be done over a few days, or you can pick and choose parts to do. Either way, the UK offers some breathtaking walks and holidays!

1. Coast to Coast

coast to coast walk uk
From/to: St Bees (Cumbria) and Robin Hood’s Bay (Yorkshire)
Distance: 305 km (190 miles)
Walk time: 15 days
When to walk: April-October

Arguably the most notorious of UK walks, the Coast to Coast route is a definite favourite. Starting the St Bee's and finishing in Robin Hoods Bay, there are many interpretations of where you can stop and routes you can take. The Classic Route (click here for the coast to coast route).

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The Coast to Coast was originally described by Alfred Wainwright in his 1973 book A Coast to Coast Walk. Wainwright's book has since been revised a number of times in recent years (most recently in 2003) with updates to the recommended route.

Wainwright's book describes the route in 12 stages, each of which ends at a settlement with at least some overnight accommodation nearby. If one stage is walked per day, with one or two rest days, the route makes a two-week holiday, and web logs of coast-to-coasters seem to indicate that this is the most common way of walking the route. However, Wainwright explicitly states that he did not intend people to necessarily stick to these daily stages, or even to his route. For instance, the majority of Wainwright's stages start and end at low level with a single up-down during the day: many walkers split the Borrowdale–Patterdale stage at Grasmere in order to maintain this pattern and avoid having two major uphill sections in one day. Splitting two or three more of the longer stages, and adding a further one or two rest days, reduces the average day-length to 10 or 12 miles and makes the walk a much easier three-week trip with time to "stand and stare", an activity much approved of by Wainwright.

2. Cleveland way

cleveland way walk
From/to: Hemlsey to Filey
Distance:(109 miles)
Walk time: 10 - 11 Days
When to walk: April-October

The Cleveland Way National Trail is a 109 mile (175 Km ) walking route through beautiful and ever changing landscapes and scenery. It was the second National Trail in England and Wales and was officially opened on 24th May 1969. The Trail offers the best of both worlds, heather moorland and stunning coastal scenery. You don’t have to do the Trail in one go to enjoy the best it has to offer. There are a number of circular walks based on the Trail including 1 and 2 day walks, and shorter easy access walks for everyone to enjoy.

One of the other pleasures of the Cleveland Way is the ease of securing accommodation – with only a bit of planning and varying the length of each day’s walk it is straight forward to find places to stay and pubs to eat in on the walk. That does not mean they will be available mid August the day before but for a National Trail the availability of accommodation is very good.

3. Pennine Way

Pennine Way Walk
From/to: Kirk Yetholm, (Scottish Border) and Edale (Peak District).
Distance: 429 km (268 miles)
Walk time: 16-19 days
When to walk: May-September

The Pennine Way is the most famous and well used long distance footpath in Britain stretching from Edale in the High Peak of Derbyshire all the way to Kirk Yetholm, a pretty Northumberland village in the Scottish borders. It stretches through the backbone of northern England and is characterised by long stretches of bleak moorland. However it is a genuine challenge and the landscape may be tough underfoot, particularly in wet conditions, but it’s fantastic to look at. From the moors of the High Peak, the trail goes through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales before passing Kielder Forest and the tranquillity of Border Country. The Pennine Way is the original National Trail which was devised by Tom Stephenson in 1935 and opened 30 years later, reasonably well waymarked with most walkers seemingly experiencing difficulties on the lower ground and not on the higher moors where the trail is well trod. Most people tend to go south to north, principally as walking in to the sun or more likely the prevailing weather is not particularly appealing.

4. Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

pembrokeshire way walk
From/to: St Dogmaels to Amroth
Distance: 299 km (186 miles)
Walk time: 15 days
When to walk: May-September

Opened in 1970, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first National Trail in Wales and is one of 15 National Trails in Britain.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail hugs the coastline for 186 miles or 299km of some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in Britain.

From St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands, beaches, estuaries and flooded glacial valleys.

Lying almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the trail displays an array of coastal flowers and bird life, as well as evidence of human activity from Neolithic times to the present.

Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!

Most visitors walk a short section at a time, adding a piece to the jigsaw each time they visit and make good use of the Coastal Bus Service, which serves the rural communities and coast path walkers.

In 2012 the Pembrokeshire Coast Path became part of the Wales Coast Path; the world's first uninterrupted route along a national coast, and the Wales Coast Path covers 870 miles. That's a good walk!

5. Thames Path

Thames Path Walk
From/to: Thames Head (near Cirencester) and Thames Barrier (Woolwich).
Distance: 294 km (184 miles)
Walk time: 14 days
When to walk: April-October

One of Britain's National Trails and hailed by Lonely Planet as ‘one of the top city hikes in the world’ – but here’s betting you’ve never even heard of it, right? In which case, here’s all you need to know about the Thames Path.

At 184 miles in length, the Thames Path follows England’s most iconic river from its source in the Cotswolds right the way to the Thames Barrier in London. Predominantly using the original towpath plus several bridges, the sign-posted path was designated a National Trail in 1989 and it has been hailed by Lonely Planet as ‘one of the top city hikes in the world’ – but here’s betting you’ve never even heard of it, right?

In which case, here’s all you need to know about the Thames Path.

6. South Downs Way

south downs way walk
From/to: Winchester City to Jevington
Distance: (100 miles)
Walk time: 8-9 days
When to walk: April-October

The South Downs Way is one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales and was the first bridleway National Trail in England. It is also the only National Trail to lie entirely within a National Park.

Stretching from the ancient cathedral city of Winchester in the west, first capital of England, through to the white chalky cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head at Eastbourne in the east, almost all of its stunning 160 kilometre length is blissfully off-road

Today the South Downs Way offers inspiration and escape as we follow in their footsteps, whether ambling on an after-lunch stroll or rising to the challenge to walk, run or ride it over several days. Whoever you are, there are countless ways to enjoy this trail and all that it connects. It is the central thread running through the patchwork of culture and nature that is the South Downs National Park.

7. Peddars Way

Peddars Way Walk
From/to: Rushford to Hopton on Sea
Distance: 150km (93 miles)
Walk time: 6-7 days
When to walk: April-October
The Peddars Way is a wonderful ever changing, easy graded, 46 mile long distance walk starting from the pretty woodland of Knettishall Heath, through to open countryside and tracks, past historic pingo ponds, quiet lanes and heathland, along arrow straight old Roman roads and tracks and eventually ending at the sand and sea on the North Norfolk Coast at Holme-next-the-Sea. It’s a complete contrast to the Norfolk Coast Path, but has so much more to offer in the way of history.

8. The Ridgeway

ridggeway walk
From/to: West Kennett to Ivinghoe Beacon
Distance: 87 miles
Walk time: 5-6 days
When to walk: April-October
The Ridgeway runs from Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. The trail follows part of an ancient track established by prehistoric man that stretched across the country from Dorset to Norfolk. It passes through two distinct landscapes.

The western half of the trail, from Avebury to Goring, follows a broad track along the North Wessex Downs, with far-reaching views over rolling open downland to the south and the wide expanse of the Thames Valley to the north.

The eastern half, from Goring to Ivinghoe Beacon, begins by following the banks of the River Thames before heading into the Chiltern Hills, through a landscape of beech woodlands and fertile farmland dotted with attractive villages and towns. The Ridgeway has a long and rich history. Stone Age man left the long barrows at West Kennet, Wayland's Smithy, and Whiteleaf Hill as well as the extraordinary stone circle at Avebury and Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe. Bronze Age people left the round barrows that litter the route and the Uffington White Horse, one of the most famous hill figures in the country. Grim's Ditch and vast hill forts including Barbury, Liddington, Uffington, Segsbuy, Pulpit Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon were built during the Iron Age. In the Dark Ages The Ridgeway was the main route for the Saxons and Vikings during their advances into Wessex. From medieval times until about 200 years ago, it was drovers moving livestock, rather than armies, who used The Ridgeway.

9. Glyndwrs Way

Glyndwr way walk
From/to: Welshpool to Knighton
Distance: 135 miles
Walk time: 11-13 days
When to walk: April-October
The 132 mile Trail which was officially opened in 2002, is set in the heart of Wales' breathtaking countryside and is dedicated to the 15th Century Welsh warrior and self proclaimed 'Prince Owain Glyndwr'. Many, unable to take the 9 days needed to complete the route in one go, enjoy the Trail over a series of weekends or day trips.

Along the Trail are some of the finest landscape features in Wales including the serene Radnorshire Hills, the shores of the Llyn Clywedog Reservoir and heather clad Plynlimon. There are spectacular views over Cader Idris, Lake Vyrnwy, the Cambrian Mountains and Y Golfa. The route reaches its highest point at Foel Fadian (1,650ft - 510m) from which on a clear day views stretch out along the majestic Dulas Valley to Machynlleth and the sea.

The trail begins at Knighton on the English borders and meanders its way through the open moorland, rolling farmland, woodland and forests of Mid Wales to finish beside the Montgomery Canal in Welshpool. The Offa's Dyke Path National Trail connects Welshpool and Knighton and offers a circular option for those wishing to complete the Trail as a continuous walk.

10. The Skye Trail

skye trail walk
From/to: Rubbha Hunnish (north) and Broadford (south)
Distance: 128 km (78 miles)
Walk time: 7 days
When to walk: May-July.

The Skye Trail, a challenging unofficial route aimed at experienced hillwalkers, takes in some of the very finest landscapes on this celebrated island - and indeed in the whole of the UK.

The route follows much of the amazing Trotternish Ridge and later passes beneath the very shadow of the Cuillin. Other sections follow remarkable but little visited coastal cliffs, take in steep trails above high drops, or pass through haunting deserted villages destroyed in the cruel Clearances.

Date: 16th July 2019