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What is the best Long Distance Walking Trail in the UK?

6th April 2022

As we are in such a privileged position of meeting many of our customers, who often have walked many long-distance trails we will ask them the question, what is the best long-distance walking trail in the UK?

We have also asked this question on the Shepherds Walks Facebook page - If you have walked 2 or more long-distance trails which is your all-time favourite? 

So, compiling both these resources and taking in both National Trails and non-National Trails, we have compiled the list to answer the question, what is the best long-distance trail in the UK?

1. Isle of Man Coast Path

The Isle of Man Coast Path known locally as the Raad ny Foillan or Way of the Gull, is a footpath around the Manx coast created to mark the Island's "Heritage Year" celebrations in 1986.

It is one of the few long-distance walking trails that I have spoken to people who have gone back and done it a second time.
With such varied scenery around it’s coast, from clifftop walking to walking along wide sandy beaches, it changes on an hour by hour basis as you walk the route.

Key facts on the Isle of Man Coast Path

Distance – 95 miles (153 km)
Days to walk Isle of Man Coast Path  – 9 – 11 days
More info about walking holidays along the Isle of Man Coast Path

2. West Highland Way

Sadly, this is not a holiday we deliver at Shepherds Walks holidays but from the feedback we have heard from customers and particularly from our social media posts the West Highland way gets second position.

Stretching from Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow up to Fort William in the Highlands, the West Highland Way is pretty challenging. 

Key facts on the West Highland Way

Distance – 96 miles (154 km)
Days to walk West Highland Way – 9 – 11 days

3. Hadrian’s Wall Path

It may be sitting in third position but the Hadrian’s Wall Path it is the first of the National trails, therefore making the Hadrian’s Wall Trail the best National Trail. There are currently 16 National Trails (source – Wikipedia)

With it best walked West to East, with you then having the prevailing wind behind you for your trip it is one of the most varied of the National Trails, starting off on the Solway Firth, walking along the Iconic Whin Sill for the middle section and then the urban walk through to Wallsend, the end of the trail.

Key facts on the Hadrian’s Wall Trail

Distance – 84 miles (135 km)
Days to walk Hadrian’s Wall – 5 – 10 days
More information about walking holidays along the Hadrian's Wall Path 

4. South Downs Way

When speaking with our customers the Downs Way always comes up as many people favourite long distance trail.

Having walked extensively in the South Downs it is truly a special place, I personally love the isolation and just knowing you are so near to the capital makes the tranquillity even more special.

The South Downs Way is a gently trail starting in historic Winchester in Hampshire and finishes in the seaside resort of Eastbourne in East Sussex.

Key facts on the  South Downs Way

Distance – 99 miles (159 km)
Days to walk the South Downs Way – 7 – 9 miles

5. Great Glen Way

We again head up to Scotland to pick up another of the best Scottish Long-distance trails.

On the social media chat whilst research this piece, the best long distance walking trail in the UK the Great Glen Way seems to be many people favourite trail.

The magnificent waymarked route stretches from Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the north east. Starting (or ending) in Fort William in the shadow of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the route follows the country’s greatest geological fault and follows sections of Thomas Telford’s historic Caledonian Canal before reaching Inverness, the capital of the Highlands.

Key facts on the Great Glen Way

Distance – 79 miles (127 km)
Days to walk  the Great Glen way – 4 – 7 days

6. Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is another of those long-distance trails that I have heard people say, I would walk that again, especially the coastal section.

Established in 1969, the Cleveland Way is both an interesting and a beautiful path with contrasting scenery. It stretches for over 100 miles from Helmsley, on the southern edge of the North York Moors National Park, to Filey on the East Coast.

Key facts on the Cleveland Way

Distance – 108 miles (176 km)
Days to walk the Cleveland Way – 8 – 10 days
More information about walking holidays aling the the Cleveland Way.

7. Pennine Way

Founded in 1965, The Pennine Way was the first National Trail in the UK and set the trend for the walking culture we have today. 

The 268-mile route spans from Derbyshire to the Kirk Yetholm, in the Scottish Borders, crossing some of the most spectacular upland landscapes in England, National Parks and Nature Reserves.

The famous Spine Race, often classed as the hardest endurance race, covers the full length of the trail.

For those wanting to rightly want to cover to the trail at a more leisurely pace most people walk the trail over 2 or 3 weeks.

Key facts on the Pennine Way

Distance – 268 miles (435km)
Days to walk the Pennine Way – 14 – 21 days

8. Dales Way

The Dales Way runs for 80 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria.

It passes heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the gentle foothills of southern Lakeland to the shore of Lake Windermere.

I know when we first walked this trail we were taken back by the stunning, varied landscape it passed through in both Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Key facts on the Dales Way

Distance – 80 miles
Days to walk the Dales Way – 7 or 8 days
More information about walking holidays along the Dales Way.

9. Wainwrights Coast to Coast

Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk is one of the most popular long-distance trails in the UK.

Starting at the Irish Sea at St. Bees Head, it winds its way across Northern England for 190 miles, to the North Sea shoreline at Robin Hood's Bay. 

On the way it passes through three National Parks: The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

The Coast to Coast is a tough and challenging walk, many people find it tougher than they expected, particularly over Lakeland.

Key facts on Wainwrights Coast to Coast

Distance – 190 miles
Days to walk Wainwrights Coast to Coast – 12 to 14 days

10. Anglesey Coast Path

The final one on our list of the 10 best long-distance trails in the UK is the Anglesey Coast Path. This again is another trail that many people, in person, have told me is their favourite.

The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path falls within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which covers 95% of the coast. It passes through landscape that includes a mixture of farmland, coastal heath, dunes, salt-marsh, foreshore, cliffs and a few small pockets of woodland.

Key facts on the Anglesey Coast Path

Distance – 130 miles
Days to walk the Anglesey Coast Path – 9 – 15 days


Your thoughts?

Do you think we have missed a long Distance Trail out of this list?

If you think this is the case please do let us know.


What to do next?

Please take a look at both the guided and self-guided walking holidays we offer here at Shepherds Walks Holidays.

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What is the best Long Distance Walking Trail in the UK? Apr 2022

Taking in both National Trails and non-National Trails, we have compiled the list to answer the question, what is the best long-distance trail in the UK? more...