Walking is one of the UK’s national pastimes and the primary means of getting around. Distances have to be significant before most citizens hop in a car or take public transportation. Hence, a Brit telling you they’ve been out on a walk could mean a 5-minute pop to the newsagent or a three-hour ramble on the trails. Thus, despite the nation’s limited landmass, it is covered in long-distance hiking trails.
The UK has an abundance of excellent long-distance hiking trails. Some of the favorites include:
- Coast To Coast
- Cotswolds Way
- Glyndwr’s Way
- Hadrian’s Wall Path
- Offa’s Dyke
- Pennie Way
- The Cumbria Way
- The Dales Way
- The South West Coast Path
- West Highland Way
The UK has over 230 trails that exceed 31 miles (50 km). Consequently, narrowing the list to a mere ten is no easy task. Thus, we focused on picking our favorites from the upper end of the mileage spectrum. In addition, all of these fantastic routes provide the option of doing a smaller section, should you not have the time to complete them end-to-end.
10 Best Long Distance Hiking Trails In Britain
Long-distance hiking in the UK is typically a more genteel adventure than trying the same distances in the United States or Canada. While you still need to be very fit for some of these adventures, most will have you end each day near a proper bed. In fact, you might have no other legal option, as finding a place to pitch your tent can be tricky.
The UK has a world-class trail system and embraces “your right to roam.” Thus, the Rights of Way allows walkers to cross private land so long as ramblers stick to the official trail. However, this privilege, which UK citizens hold dear, does not include pitching a tent. Nor does the National Trust, whose lands many trails cross, typically permit camping outside of designated sites.
Thus, before you head out on any of these trails, you may be required to book reservations ahead. Thankfully, the UK has an abundance of hostels and well-priced B&Bs that cater to walkers. Bigger bonus: most of these are close to a pub where you can get a proper meal and a drink.
1 – Coast To Coast: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 192 miles / 309 km
- Start: St Bees
- End: Robin Hood’s Bay
Coast to Coast is one of the nation’s most beloved and acclaimed hikes, yet it isn’t official. The route was designed by acclaimed walker Alfred Wainwright, who was a fascinating soul. Unfortunately, it is mostly devoid of signposts due to not being adopted as either a national trail or singular footpath. Nonetheless, Wainwright’s guide skills have left meticulous instructions, allowing many to enjoy this unique route.
Coast to Coast takes walkers through three renowned national parks: Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors. There are plenty of hills along this hike, so make sure your calves and knees are prepared.
2 – Cotswolds Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 102 miles / 164 km
- Start: Chipping Campden
- End: Bath
The Cotswolds Way is a charming and genteel hike perfect for those with less experience. One hiker claimed the most strenuous moment was dealing with a particularly fiddly latch to a gate. It is known for its fields, farmlands, wildflowers, architecture and has a knack for passing by a fine selection of tea rooms and pubs. A very British experience.
3 – Glyndwr’s Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 135 miles / 217 km
- Start: Knighton
- Finish: Welshpool
Glyndwr’s Way is a gorgeous way to explore Wales, crossing varied landscapes such as moorland, farmlands, and forests. There are several hills that must be climbed, requiring hikers to be fit. But with the elevation comes the scenic views. Also, a popular modification of this route is looping it with Offa’s Dyke.
4 – Hadrian’s Wall Path: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 84 miles / 135 km
- Start: Bowness-on-Solway
- Finish: Wallsend
Hadrian’s Wall Path combines 2,000-year-old history with adventure. The route is well maintained, perfect for less experienced long-distance hikers. The trust even runs a fun “Passport scheme” between May and October, where you get your “passport” stamped at seven key locations, earning an enamel badge and achiever’s certificate. A fun and fit way to gain some ancient Roman history.
5 – Offa’s Dyke: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 177 miles / 285 km
- Start: Sedbury Cliffs
- Finish: Prestatyn
Offa’s Dyke path runs along the country’s longest monument of the same name. It wanders through eight counties and crosses the English and Welsh border over twenty times. In addition to its historical fame, it is also known for passing through three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Wye Valley, Shropshire Hills, and Clwydian Range. In addition, it makes a lovely link up with Glyndwr’s Way.
6 – Pennie Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 268 miles / 431 km
- Start: Edale
- End: Kirk Yetholm
Pennine Way is the UK’s first National Trail. Its other boast is that if you tally all the ascents along the route, you will have exceeded the height of Mount Everest. However, while you do need to be incredibly fit to do this hike, and there can be snow in winter, you do not have to have Everest-level mountaineering skills. You will, however, be wise to pack waterproofs and spare socks.
This trail is a national treasure, beloved by many, and boasts incredible views. It also takes you to some remote areas, refreshing in this cozy country where so much of the countryside has been tamed.
7 – The Cumbria Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 70 miles / 113 km
- Start: Ulverston
- Finish: Carlisle
The Cumbria Way is an excellent introduction to long-distance hiking. It can be done in five days and only has two notable ascents. Thus, this walk is kinder to calves and knees than many others on this list. But low-level doesn’t mean you sacrifice scenery. This trail takes walkers through the heart of the Lake District, which is a beautiful and much-beloved part of the country.
8 – The Dales Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 81 miles / 125 km
- Start: Ilkley
- End: Bowness-on-Windermere
The Dales Way runs through Yorkshire Dales National Park and the foothills of southern Lakeland. It follows riverside paths and goes by some gorgeous lakes. Walkers cross the moors, farmland, and some historic villages. It’s a lovely hike that doesn’t require a high level of experience.
9 – The South West Coast Path: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 630 miles / 1,014 km
- Start: Minehead
- End: Poole Harbor
The South West Coast Path is historically the nation’s longest hike. However, the England Coast Path, set to be the World’s longest coastal path, will exceed it once all sections have been connected (and stop falling into the sea).
Many ramblers only do a section of the dramatic South West Coast Path, not having the time to do the entire 630 miles. Thus, the difficulty of the hike depends on the stretch selected. However, in its entirety, the hike is strenuous, as the tally of the route’s elevation is four times the height of Everest. But the views are unforgettable.
10 – West Highland Way: Hiking In Britain
- Length: 96 miles / 155 km
- Start: Milngavie
- Finish: Fort William
West Highland Way explores Scotland’s stunning mountain scenery, including taking wanders through the famed terrain of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, the picturesque Glen Coe, and the moody Rannoch Moor. As Scotland’s oldest long-distance hike, it is well-traveled, most popular April – September. So while it does go through some remote areas, it is unlikely you’ll ever be truly alone.
The UK is a long-distance hiker’s dream, and the options are plentiful. We’ve highlighted ten of our favorites, but they’re only a small drop of this nation’s walking wealth. So may your laces never break, your socks remain dry, and a pub always have its light on whenever you are thirsty.