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Britain’s best long-distance footpaths: 12 epic treks

A close-up of a Pennine Way sign pointed up a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths provide excellent access to the outdoors while showcasing the finest scenery our isles have to offer

When you think of the best long-distance hiking trails from around the world, little old Britain probably wouldn’t top of your list. Hikers will more likely be drawn to the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails in the US, New Zealand’s Great Walks or the famous Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal.

However, the UK does have an extensive network of long-distance footpaths. Managed by the National Trails in England and Wales and Scotland’s Great Trails north of the border, the UK has thousands of miles of tramping to be discovered – and the network continues to expand.

Over the years, I’ve completed several of the UK’s long-distance footpaths. Most recently, I hiked the Two Moors Way across Dartmoor and Exmoor which immediately became a firm favourite. As such, we’ve updated our list of Britain’s long-distance footpaths. Read on to see what they have to offer.

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths

There is no formal definition of a long-distance footpath. Typically, around the world, it will be at least 50km (30mi) long. However, the British Long Distance Walkers Association defines long-distance footpaths as “20 miles [32km] or more in length and mainly off-road.”

Our selection of Britain’s best long-distance footpaths greatly exceeds these definitions.

1. Pennine Way

Location: England
Distance: 431km (268mi)
Duration: 20-25 days
Start: Edale, Derbyshire
Finish: Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders

Britain’s oldest trail (opened in 1965) traverses some of the finest upland landscapes in England. It is by far the most famous and one of the most popular of Britain’s footpaths.

A close-up of a Pennine Way sign pointed up a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales
Dreamstime The Pennine Way traverses some of the best upland landscapes in England

Starting in the relatively moderate hills of the Peak District, the trail runs northwards through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall and the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland National Park.

The route varies from marching along clearly defined paved surfaces to crossing vague and persistently wet peat bogs. Wet socks aside, the route showcases the wildest, prettiest and most remote inland scenery in England.

More info:

2. West Highland Way


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