It is said there is no single place in the UK where you’re more than 112 kilometres from the sea. This means that the British Isles are dotted with a wide variety of epic coastal, country and historic walks, all easily accessible via public transport. Based on natural beauty or historic relevance, we present our top five multi-day treks in the UK.
The Thames Walk
This iconic 296-kilometre walk follows the course of the River Thames, starting at its source in the Cotswolds and finishing at the Thames Barrier at Woolwich in South East London. It’s an easy course with few elevations, making it ideal for hikers of all abilities. If your time is limited, choose to walk only a stretch of the way, alternatively set out for an epic 14-day adventure, covering on average 24-kilometres per day. The route meanders from the countryside, through the heart of beautiful Oxford and Winsor and onto vibrant London. You’ll find plenty of traditional pubs, guesthouses and campsites along the way. For more information, visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk.
The South West Coast Path
Known as the longest national trail in the UK, the 1014-kilometre South West Coast path has got to be one of the world’s most spectacular walks. It follows the entire coastline of Cornwall, continuing along the south coast of Devon and onto the Dorset coastline where it finally finishes at Poole Harbour. It’s thanks to the coastguard of yesteryear – who patrolled the coast for smugglers – that we have such a well-demarcated trail to enjoy today. If you choose to walk the entire route in one go, set aside at least a month, alternatively, do as most other people do and walk one stretch at a time. This is a challenging route with many ups and downs, but the dramatic scenery is reward enough.
The West Highland Way, Scotland
Follow in the footsteps of Braveheart’s William Wallace on the epic 152-kilometre West Highland Way, which starts in Glasgow and ends in Fort William. You’ll walk through the majestic Scottish Highlands, passing rolling hills, sparkling lakes and fairy-tale forests. If you walk an average of 21-kilometres per day, the route can be completed in 6 or 7 days. You’ll find plenty of budget-friendly accommodation, quirky pubs and good cheer along the way. A huge bonus of this route is that wild camping is permitted for 2 to 3 nights at a time. A good level of fitness is required, as the path has a fair share of ups and downs. For more information, visit www.west-highlandway.co.uk.
Also read The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hiking.
Dorset On Foot
Arguably the most quintessential of English counties, Dorset is home to lush green meadows, fishing villages and the legendary Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site). Starting just over the border in Wiltshire at the beautiful cathedral city of Salisbury and finishing 115-kilometers later along the coast in Lyme Regis, this picturesque route showcases the county’s very best attractions, from chocolate-box villages and romantic castles to pristine farmlands. There are dozens of country pubs along the way where you can stop for a hearty meal and English ale. If you choose to walk this 6-day route with On Foot Holidays (one of Europe’s leading self-guided walking tour operators), everything will be arranged on your behalf, including accommodation, luggage transfers between inns and select meals. You’ll also be equipped with a comprehensive information pack, complete with detailed route maps.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
Stretching across northern England from coast to coast, this 135-kilometre path traces the famous Hadrian’s Wall, which was used as a defensive fortification during the ancient Roman occupation. Along the trail, you’ll walk through moorlands – straight out of Wuthering Heights – and historic cities such as Newcastle. Hikers should have a reasonable level of fitness, as there are quite a few short climbs and descents along the way. Good news is that the route is well marked with an acorn symbol and can be completed in a week. For more information, visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk.
*About the Author: Franki Black is a South African journalist living in London where she works as the Editor of Women4Adventure and a freelance writer. Follow Franki’s adventures on www.women4adventure.com and www.frankiblack.com.