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Scattered around England and Wales, you may have come across a so-called UK National Trail. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer and are kept maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart.
They are a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts as they wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. All being long distance walks
, allow yourself a week or two to step into the outdoors and soak up the British countryside.
With nine out of the 15 trails to choose from, let Sherpa Expeditions be your guide when completing a UK National Trail
The 110 mile Cleveland Way follows a walking route from Helmsley to Filey. What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
The Cotswolds is the epitome of the English countryside. It is no wonder that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as rolling hills meet with quaint villages that are all preserved in a glorious state.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The 84 mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path takes hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, following the world’s largest Roman artefact.
Offa’s Dyke Path
Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km).
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first UK National Trail on April 24th 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England and down into Scotland.
South Downs Way
Exactly 100 miles of chalk downland walking separates the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and the ancient Saxon Capital of Wessex and England – Winchester, forming the South Downs Way. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Southern Britain, the walk generally follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.
South West Coast Path
England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail is the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.
Following the Thames Path will help you to understand not only the Thames but also why it is the key to the history of London. There is a lot to see: the palaces such as Hampton Court and Syon Park; castles such as Windsor and the Tower of London; multiple bridges each with their own history; and wildlife reserves. And always as the backdrop to it all is the life on the river.
Each year, Scott and his wife try to have one long holiday which incorporates site seeing, cultural interactions and some sort of activity. Being Australians in London and living away from family also means that holidays include time with them when they come to visit from overseas. "Each year I go on a boys’ long weekend hiking trip in the Lake District and on a skiing trip to Europe" says Scott. "I try and dust off my bike annually to participate in the Dunwich Dynamo (overnight bike ride from London to the Suffolk coast)." In the summer of 2019 he embarked on our self guided walking holiday exploring the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn
Why did you choose to walk in Tarn, France?
France is such a diverse country and having worked there previously, I am always up for another trip visiting a different area. I had watched a programme on the Tarn region
so was interested to visit. This walking itinerary also fit into one week
of annual leave and, being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
Being time-starved, it was great that Sherpa Expeditions had this trip so we didn’t have to organise a thing!
How did you prepare for your walking holiday in France?
Not well and probably I should have done more to enjoy the trip in a more relaxed way. To prepare I did a few local weekend walks and also each weekend I participate in Park Run in my local park. Even though the walking days on average are over 20 km, most of the walking is fairly flat except when climbing up into the villages or descending out of them.
Your favourite destination on this Sherpa Expeditions holiday?
Cordes is a good village to start and finish the walk as it has great views, shops & restaurants. But I think the walking each day through moss covered forests and along escarpments seeing the villages come into view are also highlights. I recommend the 1-day Albi extension. If you have an extra day it is worth including to appreciate the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral
and visit the museum dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous late 19th century painter who was actually born there.
Best French food and drink?
The two meals we had at our chambre d'hôte accommodation in Vaour and in Bruniquel where you ate with your hosts and other guests. It was like enjoying a 4–5 course dinner party with friends. We did have to use a translate app some of the time but it made for some funny conversation. I found that most restaurants in Tarn do very good value set menu meals as well.
Biggest surprise when walking in southern France?
How quiet it was, we came across very few walkers and a couple of mountain bikers. The trails were very clean and the waymarking excellent.
> Learn more about the Tarn region & view stunning images
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
The heat, we had very high temperatures so carried 2 litres of water each daily. The last day was very exposed so we took our time walking back into Cordes where we celebrated with a few well-earned beers.
Curious to learn more about this self guided walking holiday in France? Have a look at the full description of our Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn walking trip, or contact our specialist team to discuss your wishes.
> Read the Q&A on Walking in France's Tarn & Aveyron Region
Great Britain, our large island in the North Sea, is surrounded by plenty of smaller isles and islets, all which offer unique opportunities to go for a walking or cycling holiday.
Just the fact that you are on an island gives an instant holiday feeling. On top of that, there is the special journey to reach the island; which often includes a short ferry or boat ride to increase the sensation even more. Island life is usually slow-paced and local people seem more relaxed, hospitable and are often in for a chat. Add to that a constant sea breeze, fresh seafood and stunning ocean vistas and you’ve got yourself the perfect great British island holiday.
Below, we list five of so called British isles that you can choose to discover on several of our cycling and walking holidays.
#1 Isle of Wight
Queen Victoria, despite ruling a quarter of the Earth and being Empress of India, elected to spend her holidays on the Isle of Wight. Here she had a little holiday cottage build called Osborne House - her little pied-à-terre. She painted and sketched the island’s nature, rode horses and went for long walks and swimming.
The island is relatively quick and easily reached from London on a 2-hour train ride plus a ferry or hovercraft trip.
>> Discover the Isle of Wight on foot with the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday
>> Discover the Isle of Wight by bicycle with the Isle of Wight Cycle holiday
Jersey is the biggest island of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey & Jersey who have a separate economic and political life from Great Britain. The island has an ancient history: it was until several thousand years ago attached to mainland France with many Palaeolithic dolmans or burials from that period. It was known about in Roman times and later came under the control of the duke of Brittany during the Viking invasions. All in all, lots of historical and natural interest for the walker or cyclist.
>> Discover Jersey on foot with the Jersey: the Channel Island Way holiday
>> Discover Jersey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday
#3 Isle of Man
According to legend, this British island was once ruled by Manannán who would draw his misty cloak around the island to protect it from invaders. One of the principal folk theories about the origin of the name Mann is that it is named after Manannán. The ancient Romans knew of the island and called it Insula Manavi, it is uncertain though whether they conquered the island or not. However, the Manx Gaelic for the island is Ellan Vannin, which just means island of Man.
Learn about Manx history and myths in the Manx Museum in Douglas, your port of arrival.
>> Discover the Isle of Man on foot with the Isle of Man Coastal Path holiday
Known for scenic cliffs and beaches, small towns oozing old world charm, and coastal defences dating from the Palaeolithic period through to the Second World War, Guernsey has been a favourite holiday destination for active adventurers. After a long and turbulent history, Guernsey, similarly to Jersey and other islands, is now a British crown dependency, albeit not part of the UK or of the European Union.
Another island that is part of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. Each of the small islands have their own character and customs and this is very clear when you visit them all.
>> Discover Guernsey on foot with the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way holiday
>> Discover Guernsey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday
#5 Holy Island
A causeway leads across the sands to Lindisfarne on Holy Island, just off the area of outstanding natural beauty that is the Northumberland Coast. Correct timing is essential here as the causeway gets covered by water for almost two quarters of each day. With Sherpa Expeditions you can overnight at this tiny British island, allowing you plenty of time to roam around.
When you have made it to Holy Island, the 16th Century Lindisfarne fortress and the priory ruins are a must-visit. The castle has even featured in films such as Macbeth and Cul-de-Sac, both by Roman Polanski.
>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert’s Way holiday in 8 days
>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert's Way holiday in 10 days
Curious to learn more about some of these British isles? Or if you would like to make an enquiry to discover one of the above-mentioned islands on a cycling or walking holiday, please contact the team at our London office.
by resident guide John Millen
If you are considering going on a multi-day walking holiday for the first time, it will often mean a total direction change from your previous vacations where you were sightseeing or relaxing on a beach break.
There is a formality with walking tours in the sense that you will be moving to a new location and accommodation on some or most days. But this kind of holiday gives you so much time and flexibility to do what you please on the way: stopping at viewpoints or visiting gardens, homes, castles, pubs and cafes. You may decide to have a picnic wherever you please, take in the landscapes or talk to the locals. So within the framework of an itinerary there is normally plenty of scope for doing and seeing.
First steps for walkers
As a first step, you may choose to go for a long weekend of walking or doing a couple of day walks in succession to see if you do actually like it!
The key point for a first time walker is to not bite off more than you can chew; try an easy-ish straightforward itinerary which you know you can probably follow. You can then relax and take your time.
By going on a shorter break for a first time walking holiday, you will be able to get used to the walks and whether you may have issues with feet or knees etc. Imagine what it could mean if you were to discover this in a really remote location!
Guided or self guided as a first time walk?
If you are thinking about a self-guided itinerary, look for the lower graded and better waymarked options such as the more southern trails in the UK like The South Downs Way
and The Thames Path
– or if you want to go further afield, the pilgrim routes in Spain
and France. If you have not had much walking experience then it is best to keep to the more simply navigated walks such as these. If you are considering a guided walk
, then the navigation and a lot of the decisions are taken for you. In general though, guided walks are a bit harder and you will need to be mindful about your fitness and pacing within a group.
Pacing implies getting to a certain place by a certain time. Although it is certainly good to have a challenge, an easier itinerary means that you don't have to worry too much about pacing. This ultimately means more time for stops along the way and arriving at your destination more relaxed.
Do I need special gear for a walking trip?
Outdoor gear can be quite expensive. So if you are not sure about whether this type of holiday is for you, on an easier-graded trip you will not necessarily have to invest in expensive outdoor gear. To get an idea of some of the items you may need, check out my tips on What to Take on a Hiking Trip
Maybe you will have half the gear already, trainers/ old walking boots a small rucksack, and a waterproof jacket.
You could look to borrow some gear from friends and family, and then having completed the first holiday, you can decide if you want to do another and invest in some gear.
Perhaps use a locally sourced wooden stick instead of buying walking poles, until you decide that you want to use them or not.
Some first time walkers worry about water intake or toilet stops and keeping hydrated
. Unless it is really hot, it is rarely worth carrying more than two litres with you, and remember each litre weighs a kilogram. Quite a good idea is to try and drink quite a bit to flush your system before you set out each morning or even the night before. Normally on the easier walks you will not be too remote to refill your bottles or to buy a drink or two somewhere. Just make sure that any tap or faucet water is drinkable. It may be worth carrying water sterilizer tablets or a small filter. Some water bottles (more about water bottles here
) come with this feature fitted. Normally there will be some kind of sign if the water in undrinkable.
Walking hours without visiting a toilet may be a worrying proposition but it need not be, just discreetly make use of terrain and vegetation. If you use toilet paper, fold it up and put it in a bag until you can dispose of it in the usual way.
What about navigating a route?
Get used to using a compass for general direction finding before you head off on your walking holiday. There is plenty of online guidance on map/ compass reading and I have written some advice on navigating
before. Download any mapping apps and use any GPS data that the company may provide to help you along, but always carry the printed map, route notes and the name and address of your ultimate stop of the day. If using a phone or GPS, it makes sense to carry an auxiliary power bank and the appropriate leads.
What to pack for my first walking trip?
Don't overburden yourselves on your first walking holiday, but you may wish to carry a small umbrella (for shade as much as for rain), a Thermos flask (most UK B&Bs have tea and coffee making facilities in most rooms,) a small pen knife and maybe a piece of foam or a garden kneeler to sit on during a picnic. Plasters or compeed are useful for any abnormal hot spots developing on your feet.
With such considerations and warm or cold weather clothing packed appropriately for the coming day, you should be able to enjoy your first walking holiday ever!
GGot excited to go and try out the concept of a walking holiday? At Sherpa Expeditions you can choose from a list of options that are great for a first-time walking trip:
England walking holidays for first timers
Scotland walking holidays for first timers
Camino walking holiday for first timers
Or contact our team
of friendly travel consultants to give you personalised advice, by phone or email.
You may well believe it would be hard to stay sustainable whilst on holiday, but it might be easier than you think! We have put together 5 easy tips on how to be more sustainable when travelling and whilst out on your walking or cycling trips. Read on to find out more.
1. Be conscious of litter along the route
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t see any litter lining our walking trails, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case and often people throw food wrappers on the ground or leave there takeaway coffee cups along the way. So, if you see something, don’t just walk past it, pick it up. Let’s do our bit and make sure there’s nothing lying around that could damage the environment or the habitats of surrounding wildlife.
2. Drink from a reusable water bottle and other reusable items where possible
While this may not be anything new, it’s always good to remember packing your reusable water bottle
. There are many great ones out there, that can keep your water nice and cold until you get thirsty! Also, if you are bringing food out with you, make sure to bring it in a reusable lunch box with reusable cutlery...every little helps!
3. Use biodegradable & eco-friendly products
There are so many products around now that are much kinder to the environment in the ways that they are produced and the way that they can be disposed of. Some examples are bamboo toothbrushes, green cosmetics using renewable raw materials and ethically sourced and sustainable clothing, to name just a few. Why not swap out a few of your every day essentials before your next trip?
4. Eat locally
When you are staying in various towns and villages along the way, try either buying fresh from local markets if you are cooking for yourself or eating in restaurants using ingredients sourced from local suppliers so they have not had to travel far to get to your plate. This way you will be feeding back into the local community and helping boost their economy by keeping smaller companies in business…win-win!
5. Pack lightly to reduce CO2 emissions
Whether you’re travelling to your destination by plane, car or train, it’s always worth trying to pack as lightly as you can and only bring exactly what you need with you. You may wonder why this would make a difference, but the lighter your luggage is, the lighter the vehicle or plane will be, meaning it will use less fuel to transport your belongings and therefore reducing the effect it has on the environment via CO2 emissions. Something to think about next time, you want to bring something with you ‘just in case’.
Gail Rast from Australia went on a self guided Coast to Coast walk with us last summer and in this article shares her feedback of the walking holiday across England. Her walking history began around five years ago when she walked the entire Camino Frances – solo!
What is your walking history?
I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, but became really passionate about walking a little over 5 years ago when I made the decision to walk the Camino Frances. This was fairly ambitious for my first multi-day hike, but I succeeded in walking the entire 800km (solo). Since then I have done a number of multi-day hikes in Australia (including bush-camping) and 2 years ago I did the Portuguese Coastal Camino (260km).
"I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors"
Why did you choose to walk the UK’s Coast to Coast?
I chose the Coast to Coast long distance walk because I have always wanted to see the Lake District and spend some time in the English countryside. Walking is a great way to see and experience new places.
"Walking is a great way to see and experience new places."
How did you prepare for this long distance walk?
I keep myself fit year-round by swimming, walking and other activities such as kayaking. In the lead-up to the Coast to Coast walk, I increased my walking (distance and more difficult terrain) and trained with a pack. I also incorporated weight training into my routine to strengthen my muscles.
What was your favourite destination along the trail?
I genuinely enjoyed the entire Coast to Coast Trail – I loved the diversity of the terrain! Stand-out village for me was Osmotherley, such a pretty place and such friendly locals. I also loved the coastal terrain of St Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay (great way to start and finish!).
Best Food & Drink?
The pub food was hearty and sustained my ravenous appetite at the end of the day! My most memorable meal was braised Cumbrian lamb in a pub in Rosthwaite – it was plentiful and absolutely delicious. I also enjoyed the local ales, and have now developed a taste for boutique gins!
The biggest surprise was the number and variety of animals that shared the trail – so many different types of sheep and cows, as well as horses and numerous birds including pheasants and grouse. As I was walking solo most of the time, they were great company!
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
The descents of the Lake District were more challenging than I had imagined. I managed fine with the ascents, but my knees struggled coming down the peaks. But the views and sense of achievement made it absolutely worth it.
Want to experience Wainwright's Coast to Coast for yourself and cross England's Lake District on foot? At Sherpa Expeditions we offer a variety of ways to discover the area, whether on foot or by bike, guided or self guided, check out your options here.
Looking ahead to the Autumn and Winter months, get excited for this selection of our favourite warm weather trips! These holidays in the northern hemisphere offer fantastic opportunities to escape to some winter sun at a time of year when days typically start to get shorter. /div>
MADEIRA ISLAND WALKING (JUNE – DECEMBER)
Best known for its wide array of gourmet food and wine, year-round sunny climate and breath-taking scenery, the Portuguese island of Madeira is the ideal destination to visit any time of year, although autumn is an ideal time to visit as a myriad of colourful flowers and trees are in bloom such as jasmine, begonias, freesias, magnolia, camellias and many more. Our walks follow levadas through a peaceful pastoral countryside or traverse spectacular terraced hillsides. You will also be able to quite literally feel your head in the clouds with a climb up to Pico Ruivo, the island's highest volcanic peak.
SOUTHERN TRAILS OF LA GOMERA (JUNE – JULY & SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER)
This trip is based on the sunny south side of La Gomera, with shorter walking days so you can take full advantage of the other activities this amazing island has to offer, such as snorkelling, kayaking and whale watching. You will get a mixture of varied walks; one day you will enjoy walking in the mountains, descending to the coast at Santiago poised dramatically under the Roque Agando (the mini Matterhorn of La Gomera) and in contrast, another day you will be ascending through the island's Laurisilva forest to the summit of Garajonay (1487m) with views of Tenerife, so you get the best of both worlds.
LA PALMA ISLAND WALKING (SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER)
This trip really has it all, from the largest volcanic erosion crater in the World, the Caldera de Taburiente and its National Park famed for its biodiversity, to jaw-dropping views over neighbouring canary islands and unrivalled stargazing opportunities, topped off with delicious seafood and local wine. The walks are based from the two main towns, Santa Cruz and Los llanos de Ariadne and include the possibility to walk the Cumbre Vieja ridge, along the so-called ‘route of the volcanoes’. All routes are designed to make the most of the wonderful natural features of the island.
WINTER WALKING IN CYPRUS (OCTOBER – DECEMBER)
This trip in the northern hemisphere is the perfect one if you are looking for some winter sunshine on an island of outstanding natural beauty. This walk takes you away from the more busy beach resorts to large areas of unspoilt countryside where woodland, orchards and vineyards are interspersed with tranquil, timeless villages. The walks are mostly in the Akamas Peninsula and several days they will end up at the coast.
Difficulties choosing which part of the northern hemisphere to explore for your next active holiday? Contact our team
to discuss your travel options and current COVID-19 travel restrictions that may be in place.
We have picked some excellent walks in Europe, which are all rated introductory to moderate or moderate on our grading scale. These are some of our favourites for either first time walkers or easier walks for those wanting something a little gentle themselves back in after lockdown restrictions are lifted.
France - Burgundy Vineyard Trails (Introductory to Moderate)
This is the trip for you if you love good food and wine…and let’s face it, who doesn’t? You start your walk at a gentle pace in the historic Beaune that is home to a cluster of prestigious vineyards such as the Cote d’Or, Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, so plenty of opportunity for some wine tasting! The village of Burgundy itself has many untouched lanes and you will pass by many ancient churches and chateaus, such as La Rochepot, on your travels. You can also expect glorious views as far as the Alps, as well as enjoying the delights that Rully has to offer.
Find out more about the Burgundy Vineyard Trails here
Portugal - Douro Rambler
This is another one for the wine lovers out there. Not your traditional vineyard trip, but the Alto Douro wine region is famous not only for its port but also for its high quality table wines. You will get the chance to visit quaint villages such as Vilarinho de Sao Romeo in the middle of the region, passing the River Douro and finishing in the bustling city of Porto. If you want to see the vines in full harvest, the best time to visit would be September or October.
Find out more about the Douro Rambler here
Spain - Hiking in Hidden Andalucía (Moderate)
This really is a hidden gem of a walk in our opinion. You will get to experience the remote and unspoilt sector of the Alpujarras east of Trevelez, including the charming, white-washed villages of Berchules, Yegen and Mairena, which are fed by Acequias that bring fresh water from springs in the mountains. Following the ancient byways of rural Spain, you will also come across some commanding views across to the Sierra de Gador and the Mediterranean Costas beyond.
Find out more about Hiking in Hidden Andalucía here
France - Hilltop Villages of Medieval Tarn (Moderate)
One of our newer trips, this is a beautiful rural walk where you will take in all the sights of some of the prettiest medieval towns and villages in France. They are rich in history with little tourists, so you will feel like a local when wondering around the sites of the Cathars and alongside rivers and vineyards. When staying at Chambres d’Hotes, you will also get to enjoy an authentic meal with your hosts, to help immerse yourself in the culture even further.
Find out more about the Hill Top Villages of Medieval Tarn here
Switzerland -The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls (Moderate)
This is definitely a walk not to be missed as it is a fantastic introduction to the delights of Swiss walking. You can adjust the duration and difficulty of most of the days to suit you, from a softer valley stroll to a higher mountain trek. However you choose to do it, you will get to see the stunning villages of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Zermatt, whilst hiking around well-known alpine peaks, including Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.
Find out more about the The Bernese Oberland and Reichenbach Falls here
Cyprus - The Troodos Mountains and Akamas (Moderate)
Cyprus is an island of incredible natural beauty, and on this trip you will have the pleasure of lapping up the best it has to offer. The Troodos Mountains cover much of the southern and western part of the country and this walk takes you from hiking high mountains down to the coast, passing unspoilt countryside, orchards and woodland interspersed by sleepy mountain villages with their ancient churches, as well as the oldest monastery in Cyprus Kykko Monastery. A great time to visit is in September or October when you may catch a glimpse of many species of birds during their migrations.
Find out more about the The Troodos Mountains and Akamas here
We have picked some lovely UK based walks that are perfect for either first time walkers or easier walks for those wanting something a little more gentle to ease themselves back in after lockdown. They are all rated introductory to moderate or moderate on our grading scale, so are suitable for beginners to those with a bit more experience and a good level of fitness.
Great Glen Way (Introductory to Moderate)
This is a 73 mile walk in the true heart of Scotland, hiking through the Scottish Highlands and following the shores of the famous Loch Ness, boasting great views of Ben Nevis. You will mainly walk along canal towpaths and forest tracks starting at Fort William and ending in Inverness, which is Scotland’s north-most city and dubbed the ‘capital of the highlands’. It’s a great route for those looking for some history too, as you will find plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks along the canals which reflect the designs of the early Industrial Revolution.
Find out more about the Great Glen Way here
Dorset and Wessex Trails (Introductory to Moderate)
This is a walk providing you with great variety. There’s the Dorset coastline with natural rock formations including Durdle Door, which would be of particular interest to the fossil hunters amongst us. Then, further inland you will get the chance to visit a mysterious region of ancient hill forts, Roman and Saxon remains in the ancient kingdom of Wessex. You will also come across beautiful villages such as Cerne Abbas and Abbotsbury along your journey.
Find out more about the Dorset and Wessex Trails here
Dales Way (Moderate)
This is a trip which takes you right through the Yorkshire Dales. It is a 78 mile walk crossing the Pennines from Ilkley to Windermere., staying in traditional Inns and Farmhouses dating back to the 16th and 17th century, along the way. You will experience the English countryside at its best with soft rolling hills, pretty river valleys, an abbey and some lovely Real Ale pubs. When the weather is nice, you will be able to find the perfect place to relax whilst enjoying a shady picnic.
Find out more about the Dales Way here
South West Coastal Path (Moderate)
The South West Coastal Path in its entirety is England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail. It stretches 630 miles long from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall. There are many different routes you can take which cover parts of the full trail, so you can choose whichever suits you, or slowly build up and do them all! Anyone who loves the English seaside will enjoy these walks as they will be sure to include Cornish pasties, shipwrecks, dramatic cliffs and the roaring sea.
Find out more about the South West Coastal Path here
West Highland Way (Moderate)
This is definitely a trip for your bucket list which includes a walk to the foot of Ben Nevis, following the shores of Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest lake, walking through open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area, as well as crossing through both Glencoe and Glen Nevis. It is also claimed to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles, but we will let you decide!
Find out more about the West Highland Way here
Hadrian’s Wall (Moderate)
This is a 83 mile route reaching across town, county, forest and moorland. During your walk you will get to experience the scenic variety of northern England from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, to the quiescence of Bowness on Solway. Following the route of the wall, which was started as long ago as 122 AD, you will also get to explore the fabulous heights of Highshields Crags in the Northumberland National Park and the contrasting lime green pastoral scenes of the Eden valley.
Find out more about the Hadrian’s Wall Trail here
So, you are off to walk the Coast to Coast. Whether it’s guided or self-guided you will have your main baggage being transferred for you, which saves on a lot of weight, but the big question is what essential and useful items should you take with you on the walk?
As you are staying in hotels, pubs and B&Bs, this is something that can get reviewed on a day to day basis so that you can make adjustments in regards to the weather, and depending on if you are on a higher (mountainous) or lower (farmland and road) section of the route. First, are the essentials.
A 35-50 litre rucksack (day sack) should be a sufficient size to put everything in for the day. Most of these are of course not waterproof, so you may also want to invest in a rucksack cover – although, beware that these can easily blow off and fly away if not well secured. Make sure to line the rucksack with a dry bag, or have several individual dry bags or even ordinary polythene bags without holes in.
Modern day rucksacks have lots of utility points for attaching gels, water bottles or dormant walking poles. Elasticated webbing ties, or a large webbing fabric rear pocket of many day sacks is extremely useful for securing wet clothing between showers, so that it is readily accessible and doesn’t soak the main compartment of the rucksack.
Always carry full waterproofs, top and trousers, even if it is unlikely to rain, they make a perfect windproof layer and you can forget they are there. The risk is not putting them in your bag on a good day and then the next day when it rains, discovering that you haven't got them! Gaiters could optionally be carried and put on during wet and boggy days, when it is likely that your feet will get pretty wet.
Documents and Phone
For valuable documents and your maps, notes and books that you are using for the walk, it is certainly quite a good idea to invest in waterproof map and document cases; ideally an A4 or A5 sized one for documents and an A3 sized one for maps. Ortileb make some good ones which will be totally waterproof if sealed properly and last for years.
A mobile phone is more or less essential these days and can be used for contacting emergency services, the accommodation or for use as a camera or GPS. You may want to bring a 'proper ' camera as well, there is certainly a lot of subjects to take photos of during the walks, especially landscapes. It may be worth having a spare powered battery and a portable power supply for your phone, just in case.
If you are not wearing it, bundle a fleece, jumper or gillet into your bag. Although, really it is not essential to carry a spare set of clothing with you , an extra-long sleeved shirt may be worthwhile if it is very hot or if you want to change into a drier garment when you arrive at your next destination. Some days, there is always the chance you will get in before either your baggage does or before your accommodation is actually open.
Food and Drink
Some people carry a plastic container for their packed lunch to stop the content getting squashed, although most people just make do with just a bag. It’s always a good idea to put some extra high energy snacks and bars in the pockets of your day sack too and have at least 2 litres of drinking water with you. In the UK you can fill up from water taps, you don’t need to buy bottled water.
We would recommend you to take a half litre vacuum flask for hot or cold drinks as well. Some walkers are very pleased to have these with them whilst they are out on a cold day, or to ‘celebrate’ the traditions of morning or afternoon tea. Unlike walking on the continent, when you walk in Britain you will nearly always find a hospitality tray in your bedroom with kettle and tea / coffee items, sufficient to fill a flask.
Handy Everyday Items
Most rucksacks have a top pocket where you should store quickly accessible items, such as a small head torch, whistle, penknife, lightweight gloves and a beanie style hat. The same pocket should also be used to carry things like lip balm, sun cream, keys and a proofed wallet to contain things like your passport, money and tickets - items that should not be left in your main baggage. A squash able broad brimmed hat and sunglasses are also recommended, but maybe leave the umbrella behind as they can easily get destroyed in the windy conditions sometimes experienced along the Coast to Coast. Finally, make sure you have at least somewhere on your person or handy in the daypack for map, compass, notes, book and information about where you are staying overnight. It is easy to forget!