13/10/2017
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12 of Britain's best long distance footpaths

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In the UK it is generally accepted that to be classed as a long distance footpath a way has to be over 20 miles. Each part of the country has stand-out routes that are the most popular among walkers.

For England, the Coast-to-Coast takes centre stage, for Scotland it is the West Highland Way (92 miles/146km) and Wales has Offa’s Dyke (177 miles/285km). For Northern Ireland the best-known LDP is the awesome Ulster Way (625 miles/1000km), which is not for the faint-hearted or the beginner.

The longest route in the UK  is the South West Coast Path which runs around the coasts of Minehead, Devon, Cornwall and some of Dorset. And then there is the combination of routes that makes up Lands End to John o’ Groats path (close to 1,000 miles/1,609km depending on the route chosen).

We’ve selected 12 of the UK’s best long-distance footpaths and suggested some ideas of where to camp on the route.

1 WEST HIGHLAND WAY
(92 MILES/146km)

Scotland’s most popular long distance path running from the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William and The Highlands. The West Highland Way attracts walkers from all over the world. Expect good tracks through mountain terrain, a hike over Rannoch Moor plus a two day walk up the banks of Loch Lomond. It is an exciting and challenging walk that often feels remote but is usually not too far from a road.

STAY AT
BEINGLAS FARM CAMPSITE
Inveramen, Loch Lomond, G83 7DX
01301 704281
www.beinglascampsite.co.uk
Set in awesome mountain country at the end of the Loch Lomond stretch of The West Highland Way. The route passes right next to the campsite as it heads for Crianlarich and Rannoch Moor. Lots of options to explore the route.


2 SOUTHERN UPLAND WAY
(212 MILES/341km)

The Southern Upland Way is a coast to coast route across Southern Scotland. It’s a challenging route taking in remote terrain, mountains, wild moorland and rough ground. Many of the sections are a long way from food and shelter so good navigation is essential. It is probably not a good choice for a first outing but if you want to work up to something that will test you then this could be it.

STAY AT
GLENTROOL CAMPING AND CARAVAN SITE
Bargennan, Newton Stewart. Dumfries and Galloway DG8 6RN
01671 840280
www.glentroolcampingandcaravansite.co.uk
Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site is a small and neat site that is a favourite overnight stopping point for backpackers on The Southern Upland Way. The site is close to the route and is well placed for exploring the earlier stages of this path.


3 HADRIAN'S WALL PATH
(84 MILES/135km)

Hadrian’s Wall path runs from Wallsend on the east coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. It follows the line of ancient Hadrian’s Wall, which is a World Heritage Site. History lovers will enjoy the trip and the experience immensely. The route is mostly easy but the 23 miles/37 KM section from Chollerford to Birdoswald is hilly and tough going.

STAY AT
GREENCARTS CAMPING SITE
Humshaugh, Northumberland NE46 4BW
01434 681320
www.greencarts.co.uk
Popular backpacking site for those walking the path. Greencarts is quite close to the line of the wall and is a family run site offering pleasant camping in sheltered surroundings.


4 THE DALESWAY
(81 MILES/131km)

An ‘unofficial’ route, the Dalesway was the brainchild of guidebook writer Colin Speakman and his friends and links the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the Lake District National Park. The way runs from Ilkley in Yorkshire to the shores of Lake Windermere at Bowness in Cumbria, and although the walk favours lower ground there are enough moorland and remote river sections to satisfy everyone.

STAY AT
WINDERMERE CAMPING AND CARAVANNING CLUB SITE
Ashes Lane, Staveley. Kendal, Cumbria LA8 9JS
01539 821119
www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
A remote site close to the closing stages of The Dales Way with plenty of options to explore the end or even drive a short way to the Cumbria/Yorkshire border and take in some of the middle sections.


5 THE PENNINE WAY
(270 miles/435km)

A rough and tough moorland outing that follows the Pennine spine of England. Expect long days, difficult terrain and bouts of bad weather. A great walk but you will need to be super fit. The Pennine Way runs from Edale in Derbyshire to just over the Scottish border at Kirk Yetholm.

STAY AT
COOPERS CAMPSITE
New Fold Farm, Grindsbrook Booth, Edale, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S33 7ZD
01433 670372
Right at the start of The Pennine Way – great for Kinder Scout and the early stages.


6 THE COAST-TO-COAST PATH
(190 MILES/304km)

The creation of guidebook writer the late Alfred Wainwright and the classic, unofficial route. Most people walk it west to east from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire. Expect mountain terrain, moorland, field walking and even some coastal hiking. A very popular route that seems to get busier every year.

STAY AT
SIDE FARM CAMPING SITE
Side Farm, Patterdale, Penrith,  Cumbria CA11 0NP
017684 82337
www.lakedistrictcamping.co.uk/campsite_side_farm.php
Set on the shores of Ullswater and ideal for exploring the Lake District sections of the walk. The route passes near to the site which has awesome mountain and lake views.


7 OFFA’S DYKE PATH
(177 MILES/285km)

Offa’s Dyke Path doesn’t always follow the ancient earthworks that gave it it’s name, however it is still a magnificent and lengthy outing. The walk runs from Prestatyn in North Wales to Chepstow in the south of the country and crosses hills, moorland, pasture land and takes in plenty of wilderness and remote terrain. Several mountain ranges are tackled overall with the highlights being The Black Mountains and The Clwydian Range. You’ll need to be fit and agile as it is reckoned there are over 700 stiles to climb on the walk, which is just as good done in either direction.

STAY AT
NANT MILL TOURING CARAVAN AND CAMPING PARK
Nant Mill Farm, Gronant Road, Prestatyn, Denbighshire LL19 9LY
01745 852360
www.nantmilltouring.co.uk


8 THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH
(180 MILES/290km)

A lengthy route that fits neatly into a small corner of south west Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is made up of a gorgeous succession of low cliffs and paths that follow them as well as running above, around and through pretty headlands and bays. It is an out and out coastal route that runs from Amroth in the south to St Dogmaels in the north. Overall the walk is straightforward and easy but there are some steep sections and rough bits.

STAY AT
NEWGALES CAMPING SITE
Wood Farm, Newgale, Haverfordwest,  Pembrokeshire SA62 6AR
01437 710253
www.newgalecampingsite.co.uk
Set next to the beach and close to the coast path, Newgales Camping Site is a great base for exploring the central areas of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path from. You can walk from the site and head north on the route to Solva or go south to Nolton Haven.


9 THE RIDGEWAY PATH
(85 MILES/137km)

The Ridgeway has been walked along in one form or another for over 5,000 years and is often referred to as ‘the oldest road in the world’. The route follows an elevated course over the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and runs from Ivinghoe to Streatley following a mix of ancient tracks and modern footpaths and bridleways. The walk is full of historic sites and although it has plenty of ups and downs, it is straightforward and not over taxing.

STAY AT
TOWN FARM CAMPSITE
Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire LU7 9EL
07906 265435
www.townfarmcamping.co.uk
A friendly and family run campsite that is right beneath Ivinghoe Beacon which is the official start or finish of the Ridgeway Path depending on which way you choose to walk it. The site offers plenty of scope for exploring the early (or later) stages of the route.


10 SOUTH DOWNS WAY
(102 MILES/164km)

A very popular route crossing the South Downs of Southern England from Winchester to Eastbourne. The walk is a mix of rounded downs, valleys and coastal walking (towards the end) with a traverse of the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. Paths are usually wide and easy to follow and although the way has plenty of ups and downs, the going is straightforward and not too strenuous overall.

STAY AT
HOUSEDEAN FARM CAMPSITE
Brighton Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3JW
07919 668816
www.housedean.co.uk
Housedean Farm Campsite is set right in the heart of the South Downs and the South Downs Way runs by the site. This makes it a great base for exploring the route around the site and a bit further afield as well.


11 THE ISLE OF WIGHT COAST PATH
(67 MILES/108km)

The Isle of Wight Coast Path runs (as you would expect) right around the coast of the Isle of Wight. It is not an ‘official’ National Trail but a fine example of a route set up and maintained by the local authorities. As it is a circular walk you can start and finish where you like, but most people choose Cowes as it is the main ferry port for the island. Expect cliffs, high moors, rocky bays and sandy shores.

STAY AT
GRANGE FARM CAMPSITE
Military Road, Brighstone, Grange Chine, Isle of Wight PO30 4DA
01983 740296
www.grangefarmholidays.com
An atmospheric site set on the cliffs at the southern coast of the island. Makes a great base to explore the ‘bottom’ section of the Isle of Wight Coast Path.


12 SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
(570 MILES/917km)

The ‘daddy’ of all the UK’s long distance footpaths, walking the South West Peninsula Coast Path is an epic undertaking that few will complete in one go. The route runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset following the coastal cliffs up and down and through endless switchbacks. The route requires stamina and commitment to complete and as bridges across inlets may be some distance inland the way makes use of ferry crossings at certain points - it’s not cheating, it’s an accepted part of walking the route.

STAY AT
SENNEN COVE CAMPING AND CARAVANNING CLUB SITE
Higher Tregiffian Farm, St Buryan, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JB • 01736 871588
www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
On such a huge route it’s impossible to cover it all from a single camping site. We have chosen one that is in the central regions of the walk and that gives you the chance to explore some spectacular cliff paths whichever way you chose to walk once you leave Sennen Cove Camping and Caravanning Club Site.


Finished reading?

Want more great tent information? Our "Hillwalking, hiking and trekking: the camping guide" is full of great information and camping advice.

  Hillwalking, hiking and trekking: the camping guide


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