Inspiration / Walking /
THE RAMBLERS' TOP 6 STUNNING NATIONAL TRAILS
Fancy taking on a challenge or even seeing more of the sights on your very own door step?
These long distance walking routes take you across mountains, along beaches and through our wonderful countryside. Why not put on your walking boots and try one this summer?
1. South West Coast Path
This incredible trail is the longest of the National Trails spanning a staggering 630 miles. Rich in wildlife, geology, scenery and heritage, it has something for everyone.
Those out for a leisurely stroll can take their pick of scenic spots – a beach stroll at Durdle Door, Rick Stein cuisine overlooking Padstow harbour, sea views out to Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse or scrambling at Dancing Ledge on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
Long distance hikers are catered for in the ultimate challenge of completing the full trail: Starting at Minehead in Somerset, the route goes down to Land’s End before coming back east along the coast to Poole Harbour. No mean feat.
2. Pennine Way
It’s hard not to eulogise about this iconic path, said to be a “walk that everyone should do once in their lifetime”. Completing the full Pennine Way is a demanding undertaking that requires preparation and some understanding of hill walking and navigation.
However don’t let that dissuade you, you don’t need to do the full stretch. Day and weekend trippers can walk smaller sections near some unbeatable sights, such as High Force – England’s biggest waterfall; Stoodley Pike – a 121ft high monument with a viewing platform out over the West Yorkshire moors; and High Cup Nick – a dramatic U-shaped valley sitting in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
3. South Downs Way
This beautiful, accessible path, described as the ideal introduction to long distance walking, is along the rolling chalk downs of Sussex and Hampshire. If you make it here on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with stunning views in all directions – across the English Channel to France or over the green landscapes of the Weald or the valleys of the South Downs.
On average the 100 mile trail takes eight days to complete, but it can easily be split into a dozen leisurely days of walking. The trail passes through, or by five National Nature Reserves and dozens of Sites of Special Scientific Interest where you can enjoy stunning wildlife at close hand.
4. Glynwr's Way
Situated in mid Wales, this scenic path visits many sights associated with the 15thcentury hero Owain Glyndwr, leader of the Welsh Revolt against Henry IV.
The trail boasts some of the finest landscapes in Wales including the peaceful Radnorshire Hills, the shores of the Clywedog Reservoir and the heather-clad Plynlimon (the highest point of the Cambrian Mountains).
If that wasn’t enough to have you reaching for your walking boots, you can also enjoy spectacular views over the Cadair Idris and Y Golfa peaks, Lake Vymwy and the Cambrian Mountains. On a clear day you can see the stretch along the Dulas Valley to Machynlleth and the sea from the trail’s highest point, Foel Fadian (510m/1,673ft).
5. Pembrokeshire Coast Path
If a proper ‘blow away the cobwebs’ type walk is needed look no further than the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – an imposing 186 mile route along the cliff tops of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Walking this entire trail requires mastering 35,000 feet of ascents and descents – said to be the equivalent of climbing Everest. But if that sounds daunting to leisure walkers fear not as the many coastal villages, beaches and coves along the way will encourage a gentler pace.
Situated almost entirely within the national park and taking in Fishguard, Pembroke and Tenby, it has challenging and easy sections to suit walkers of all abilities. Plus there’s Wales’ only marine nature reserve and 17 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
6. Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall National Trail is a 84-mile sign-posted route that stretches from Wallsend in North Tyneside in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria to the west, taking in beautiful countryside, vibrant cities and coastal views, not to mention fascinating archaeological sites.
It was built under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian to mark the northern limit of the Roman Empire. Much of the wall has since disappeared, but the trail is rich in earthworks and historic masonry and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1987.
The route also features riverside walking alongside the Tyne at its start as well as pasture land in Cumbria and the open salt marsh of the Solway Estuary.
The Big Pathwatch is all about protecting our glorious paths. Using the Big Pathwatch app you can share your walking experiences and report any problems you find – like missing signs and wonky bridges. The Ramblers will then work to solve these problems and together we can help preserve our unique paths.
To take part, all you need to do is pick a grid square and walk the footpaths in it – and what better place to choose than along one of these iconic routes?
The Ramblers is Britain’s largest organisation for walkers with over 100,000 members across England, Scotland and Wales.