11 of Britain's Greatest Long Distance Walks

Walking up Nine Standards Rigg | John Millen
Walking up Nine Standards Rigg | John Millen

11 of Britain's Greatest Long Distance Walks

In the UK, a trail is often considered ‘long distance’ when it is at least 30 miles (48km) long. However, we like to stretch this a little and are sharing paths that are over 70 miles or about 100km. Throughout all of Great Britain you will find a diverse range of long-distance walks.

A long-distance path in the UK is traditionally waymarked but won’t necessarily follow established footpaths and as such, walkers will often find themselves traversing pastures, fells, river shores or beaches. It's exactly why we love some of our walks so much.

At the same time, going on a long-distance walk allows you to really travel deep inside a region and experience the real character and spirit away from outside borders.

Read on for 11 of the UK’s best long-distance walks.

 

1. Coast to Coast Walk

Walkers enjoy a break at Grisedale Tarn mountain lake |  <i>John Millen</i>

About the Coast to Coast 

Entire length: 309 km / 192 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: Late Spring until early Autumn

Why is the Coast to Coast one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

One of Britain’s classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guidebooks on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the feeling of crossing England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and to explore the national parks of the Lake District, Pennines and North York Moors.

“High points were the challenge, the people we met, sense of achievement and hospitality. Keep up the good work.” 

 
 
 

2. Channel Island Way

 

Wild walking near Gros Nez |  <i>John Millen</i>

Entire length: 177 km / 110 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: Walk the Channel Island Way between April and late October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Each of the eight Channel Islands have their own separate character, and in terms of scenery resemble some of Cornwall’s nicest features. This long-distance walk along the isles to the south of England takes you island hopping to see well preserved WWII fortifications, rugged cliffs, quiet villages and a fantastic range of pubs.

 

> View all Channel Island tours

 

3. John Muir Way

 

Walking the Dunbar Cliff Top Trail on the John Muir Way. |  <i>Kenny Lam</i>


Entire length:
215 km / 134 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: Between April and early October is the best time to undertake this British long-distance walk


Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The John Muir Way is a route that symbolically links Dunbar (John's hometown) with Scotland’s first national park (Loch Lomond) and the Trossachs with Helensburgh (from where John and his family departed for the USA) in the west. Both towns are located by the sea and as such the trail is known as the Scottish Coast to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded with views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. 

 

> View the John Muir walking tour

 

4. Hadrian’s Wall Path

 

Walking along the Hadrian's Wall |  <i>John Millen</i>


Entire length:
133 km / 83 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: the climate of Northern England is renowned for being unpredictable, but the best time of year to walk Hadrian’s Wall Trail is between April and early October, with June being the sunniest month


Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

A reason for hikers to choose to walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path is the rich Roman history along the way, as it’s not just the wall itself that you will see, but also remains of important Roman forts and good museums. This walk brings you scenic variety that stretches from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle and from the barren heights in Northumberland to the lime green pastoral scenes of Eden Valley.

 

“Great experience but hard work. However, the feeling of ‘we did it’, made it all worthwhile!” 

 

> View all Hadrian's Wall Path tours

 

5. Rob Roy Way

 

Hiking in the Birks of Aberfeldy on the Rob Roy Way |  <i>Kenny Lam</i>


Entire length:
124 km / 77 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: For a long-distance walk in Scotland like this, travel in the UK's spring and summer between April and October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The Rob Roy (MacGregor) Way takes hikers through areas where the notorious cattleman & outlaw used to reside, and on routes where his family drove their cattle towards market towns. This long distance trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of a Scottish legend while taking in highland scenery, famous lochs, and pretty Victorian villages.

 

> View the Rob Roy Way walking tour

 

6. Great Glen Way

 

Walkers along Scotland's Caledonian Canal |  <i>John Millen</i>


Entire length:
117 km / 73 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: walk this long-distance trail between April and October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The Great Glen Way long-distance trail was opened in April 2002 and passes the foot of the UK’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis), follows the shores of Loch Ness (will you spot Nessie?), and crosses the Scottish Highlands. The forts and castles scattered along the way are witness to Scotland’s turbulent past.

 

“This was our first multi-day walk so we were a little apprehensive but we had a fantastic time and will definitely be doing more in the future.” 

 

> View all Great Glen Way tours

 

 

7. South Downs Way

 
A couple walking towards the Seven Sisters on the South Downs Way |  <i>Marc Najera</i>


Entire length:
161 km / 100 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: as the south of England is one of the sunniest places in all of the UK, you can enjoy the South Downs Way from as early as mid-March and until the end of October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Most of the route of the South Downs Way is ancient, made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of the region. On the way ‘Dew Ponds’, ring forts, cross dykes and tumuli reflect a history stretching back into the mists of time. What better way to take in the rolling landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty of Southern England than on foot?

 

“A wonderful range of terrain & experiences. Lovely scenery. Gorgeous villages full of history. We loved it! Terrific walking - challenging & interesting. Thank you for a great holiday. We'll be back.” 

 

> View the South Downs Way walking tour

 

8. South West Coastal Path

 

Walking the Salt Path, or South West Coast Path, in England |  <i>Roy Curtis</i>


Entire length:
1,014 km / 630 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: Late March until the end of October


Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Cornwall is very much a holiday county with beaches, famous Cornish pasties, pirates, shipwrecks and the roaring sea. It has been voted Britain’s favourite holiday region for many good reasons. By following on foot one of the UK’s longest walks, you can let yourself be surprised by the tropical scenery.

“Loved how the walking tour created a more intimate connection with the towns, people, area & community. High points: scenery of coastal Cornwall and The Tinners Arms - loved it!"

 

> View all South West Coast Path tours

 

9. Offa’s Dyke Path

 

Hiking Offa's Dyke |  <i>Claire Cox</i>


Entire length:
285 km / 177 miles

Country: Wales

Best time to go: the best time to walk Offa’s Dyke Path is between April and September

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Offa’s Dyke Path takes you through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats. Add to that historic castles and abbeys and you have yourself a fantastic introduction to Wales.

 

> View the Offa's Dyke Path walking tour

  

10. West Highland Way

Hiking the Glencoe Valley amidst beautiful autumn colours |  <i>Anna Saveleva</i>


Entire length:
155 km / 96 miles

Country: Scotland

Best time to go: from late March until the beginning of October

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

Embark on a hike on the West Highland Way and you step back into history - most of the stages follow the famous droving and military roads that linked the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands. Many of the hotels you find today have originated from the droving inns that have operated for centuries. On this long-distance trail you’ll also walk to the foot of Ben Nevis and past the shores of the UK’s largest lake, Loch Lomond.

 

> View all West Highland Way tours

  

11. The Pennine Way

Good weather  on the road near Garrigill |  <i>John Millen</i>


Entire length:
268 miles / 429km

Country: England

Best time to go: late spring to early Autumn

Why is this one of the best long-distance walks in the UK?

The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first British National Trail on April 24th 1965. It stretches from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, through the Cheviots and down into Scotland. It is iconic because it was the product of the post First World War mass trespass movement of often working-class walkers with a socialist outlook.

 

> View all Pennine Way tours

 


 

We hope your bucket list hasn’t grown too much after reading about these favourite long-distance walks. If you'd like support to plan your next walk, choose the best hike for you or have any other queries, please contact our team.

Britain, UK Walks, British Walking Tours, Long distance UK walks

Comments (2)

Barbara

This is the world where I am most alive and comfortable.

6 months ago
William from UTracks

Barbara - we couldn't agree more! Hopefully we'll see you out on a trail in the UK soon - do get in touch with our team if you'd like help planning your next active holiday in Europe.

6 months ago
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