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2019: A Landmark Year for 3 of the UK’s Favourite Walking Trails

50th Anniversaries

They say 50 is the new 40. Well, if that’s true, then there’s plenty of life left in 3 of the UK’s most popular walking routes, which all celebrate their 50th anniversaries in 2019.


The Cleveland Way, the Dales Way and the Offa’s Dyke Path are all reaching this major milestone over the next few months, and you can help to celebrate their birthdays by walking the routes with Sherpa Expeditions.


Let’s take a look at what makes these routes so special as they prepare to celebrate turning 50 years young.


The Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way, which turns 50 on 24 May 2019, is a 109-mile long trail in the North York Moors National Park – and was one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails.

 

One of the things that makes the Cleveland Way so special is that it’s a combination of coastal and moorland walks, so you can enjoy some real variety in terms of terrain and views. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, isolated moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs.

 

Cleveland Way Coastline

 

There’s also a great deal of history to be enjoyed along the Cleveland Way – including the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, the 13th century Whitby Abbey, and Whitby’s Captain James Cook Museum, whose ships were all built in the coastal town.

 

Rievaulx Abbey

 

You can have a look at the events currently planned to mark the Cleveland Way’s 50th anniversary.

 

Departure dates from 6 April to 1 October 2019 – read more here.

The Dales Way

The first public Dales Way walk took place on 23rd March 1969, and was organised by the West Riding Ramblers, who were also pivotal in the creation of the route. The Dales Way runs for 78 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, following mostly riverside paths, running right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the gentle foothills of southern lakeland to the shore of England's grandest lake, Lake Windermere.

 

Dales Way Sign

 

Along the Dales Way, you’ll come across plenty of interesting old churches, an abbey, lovely real ale pubs and traditional villages. Much of the trail follows pretty river valleys - especially the Wharfe, Dee, Rawthey, Lune and the Kent. All have beauty spots for shady picnics, small ravines and rapids and are patrolled by birds such as Berwick swans, kingfishers, dippers and wagtails.

 

Dales Way River

 

Visit The Dales Way Association’s website for information on events taking place to mark the 50th anniversary.

 

Departure dates from 6 April to 5 October 2019, with 8-day and 10-day itineraries available – read more here.  

Offa’s Dyke

The Offa’s Dyke Association marks its 50th anniversary on 29th March 2019. This National Trail follows the English-Welsh border for 177 miles, although our 8-day itinerary follows the southern half of the trail from Chepstow to Knighton, roughly half the length of the full route.

 

Offa was the King of Mercia in the 8th century. He decided to define his territory and protect it from the marauding Welsh by building a huge earthwork. Today the remaining 80 miles of embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument. 

 

Offa's Dyke Path

 

This is a journey packed with interest 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, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite. 

 

Offa's Dyke

 

Read more about the 50th anniversary of Offa’s Dyke here.

 

Departure dates from 7 April to 6 October 2019 – read more here.



Britain’s Favourite Walks: Sherpa’s TOP 10

It’s been quite the show in the UK recently and the talk of the town: Britain’s Top 100 Favourite Walks. Voted for by 8,000 Brits, the final list was presented on national television last week during a 2-hour lasting show. For those that have access to ITV, you can watch the programme online until the end of February 2018.

For us it was quite exciting to see such a mix of walks spread around the island and as far as Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. Out of the Brits’ favourites, we selected our personal Top 10 Best Walks in the UK for you.

 

We’d love to hear your comments in the box below and see which are your favourite walks of Britain.

 

#1 Helvellyn | Lake District, England

best uk walks - helvellyn sherpa expeditions walking

 

On a great walk over Grisedale Pass and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Patterdale, you could opt to include a two-hour detour to summit Mount Helvellyn. Explore England’s most popular mountain, located in the Lake District, for breath-taking views.

>> Take it in on the Coast to Coast Guided Walk

 

#2 South Downs Way | Surrey & Sussex, England

south downs way - britain's favourite walks - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The complete South Downs Way, stretching for 100 miles over a rare large area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in southern Britain, follows a route that is for most of the part ancient. The Way is often made up out of the old droving roads that took animals and goods between the market towns of southern England. At intervals the hilly downlands are broken by ‘wind gaps’ or river valleys, mixing the ridge walking with some meandering visits to beautiful rivers with their associated villages. We are happy with this listing in Britain’s best walks.

>> Follow the South Downs Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#3 Broadway Tower | Cotswolds, England

broadway tower, cotswolds - Sherpa Expeditions

 

The unique Broadway Tower offers remarkable views of the Cotswolds and is fantastic to combine with the charming village of Chipping Campden. Broadway itself is a beautiful and picturesque town and the main street is lined with magnificent stone-built houses as well as some great antique shops.

>> Take in Broadway Tower on a walk to explore the Cotswolds

 

#4 Hadrian’s Wall Path | Northumberland, England

best walks in uk - Hadrian's Wall Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Officially opened in May 2003 after many years of negotiations with landlords and farmers to finalise the exact route which stretches 83 miles/133 km across town and country, forest and moorland, World Heritage Site and National Park. Omnipotent along this route, which belongs to the best walks in the UK, the Wall snakes its way, in sections interrupting a housing estate here, or popping up under a road there. Then, from being little more than a grassy bank, it transforms into stone and rollercoasters over crag tops and down into impressive fort like structures such as at Birdoswald and Housesteads.

>> Follow Hadrian’s Wall Trail with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#5 Offa’s Dyke | Monmouth & Hereford, Wales and England

best walks in uk - offa's dyke path - Sherpa Expediitons

 

The remaining 80 miles of Offa’s embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument and the basis of a famous walk: crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times on the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path. This walk in the UK is a journey packed with interest. Walk through an ever changing landscape 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, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite.

>> Follow a part of Offa’s Dyke with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#6 West Highland Way | Highlands, Scotland

walking the west highland way - sherpa expeditions

 

At Sherpa Expeditions we take you to follow most of the 92-mile national long-distance trail of the West Highland Way through a part of the Scottish Highlands. It is claimed by some to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles and as such, its spot in the list with Best Walks in the UK is justified. The route includes Loch Lomond, valley routes through the mountains round Crianlarich and open heather moorland. But also Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak), Fort William and Glencoe – famed for its massacre of the MacDonald Clan.

>> Follow the West Highland Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#7 The Needles | Isle of Wight, England

the needles, isle of wight - Sherpa walking holidays

 

This is a great walk with some fantastic views, if the weather is good, eventually over much of the Isle of Wight. Enjoy a walk that takes you to visit the Needles Park, where you can view the famous sea-stacks and the military batteries, also the site of Britain's Rocket testing from the 1950s.

>> Take in The Needles on the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking trip

 

#8 Great Glen Way | Highlands, Scotland

uk's most favourite walks - Great Glen Way

 

Scotland, about 380 million years ago, saw the creation of the Great Glen Fault: a line splitting the highlands and leading to open water at either end. In 1822 a man-made canal was built that ran through the fault and connected lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness. The Great Glen Way basically follows the fault line and walking this trail will show you plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks which reflect the early period of the Industrial Revolution. Together with the scenery of the Scottish Highlands, this is one of Britain’s most favourite walks.

>> Follow the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#9 St Cuthbert’s Way | Northumberland, England

st cuthbert's way - uk walking holidays

 

The St Cuthbert’s Way is a long-distance path that was established in 1996. The route reflects the life of the 7th century monk, extending from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish borders to the island of Lindisfarne just off the coast of Northumberland in northeast England. The ‘Way’ includes a variety of delightfully unspoilt countryside: the Tweed Valley, the Eildon Hills & Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland coast with its broad horizons and sandy beaches. The standard route is intended to be walked in 4 long days, but we have made several modifications to make the day stages slightly shorter and perhaps more interesting.

>> Follow St Cuthbert’s Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

#10 St Ives to Zennor | Cornwall, England

cornwall - sherpa expeditions

 

The seascapes around St Ives Head are beautiful! This walk in the far western part of England roller-coasts through a series of steep dips between St Ives and Zennor. It is one of the best walks in the UK and shows you some of the most stunning parts of Cornwall. The town of Zennor has a quaint church, a small museum on Cornish life and a great old pub called The Tinner’s Arms. 

>> Take in this stunning part of Cornwall on our Cornish Coastal Path West: St Ives to Penzance

 

Curious to find the full list? Find Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100 here. Inspired to go for a walking holiday in the UK this year? Browse our website for all destinations and routes in the UK that you can explore with us, or contact our team of travel experts for more information.

 

Selection of Other Walks in the UK

 

 

10 of The Best Long-Distance Walks in the UK

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 will look in this article at those paths that are over 70 miles or about 100km. Spread throughout all corners of Britain, you can find a diverse range of such walks. If you are looking to learn about some of the best, in the overview below you can find 10 of our favourite long distance walks in the UK.

 

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 is exactly that 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.

Inspired by iconic figures, historical boundaries or geographical regions, read on for some of the UK’s best long distance walks.

 

Coast to Coast Walk

Wainwright's Coast to Coast in England - Sherpa walking holidays


Entire Length: 309 km / 192 miles

Country: England

Best time to go: late spring until summer, which is between April and September in the UK

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

One of Britain’s most classic walking routes, the Coast to Coast, was originated and described by Alfred Wainwright, author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the English Lake District. Walk this trail for the feeling of crossing England from sea to 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.”F. O’Sullivan from Paynesville, Australia

 

Channel Island Way

Channel Island Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

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.

 

John Muir Way

Scottish coast to coast long distance walk UK - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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 Cost to Coast. Along the way, you are rewarded by views over Ben Lomond, an exploration of Edinburgh, and lots of historical features. There are many highlights on the John Muir Way and you can read about 10 interesting sites.

 

Hadrian’s Wall Trail

follow Hadrian's Wall Path in England - Sherpa Walking Holidays

 

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 Hadrian’s Wall 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!” – M. Murphy from Tewantin, Australia

 

Rob Roy Way

long distance walks uk Rob Roy Way

 

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 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.

 

Great Glen Way

walking the Great Glen Way with Sherpa Expeditions

 

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 (who will 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.” - J. Taylor, Bolton, UK

 

South Downs Way

South Downs Way long distance walk in UK - Sherpa Expeditions

 

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 already 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.” – M. O'Rourke, Auckland, NZ

 

South West Coastal Path

walk the South West Coastal Path - Sherpa Expeditions

 

Entire Length: 579 km / 360 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! Would have liked to have another day included at the end of the tour to get to St Michael's Mount.” – R. Masters, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USA

 

Offa’s Dyke Path

Offa's Dyke - walking in the UK - Sherpa expeditions

 

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.

 

West Highland Way

walk historical west highland way with sherpa expeditions

 

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 day 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.

 

We hope your bucket list hasn’t grown too exponentially after reading about these favourite long-distance walks. If you like our support planning your walk, choosing the best hike for you, or have other queries, please feel free to contact our team in London directly. 


Cicerone Introduces… Walking Offa’s Dyke Path

Cicerone and Sherpa Expeditions - walking Offa's Dyke Path

 

Have you ever considered walking Offa’s Dyke Path? Our friends at Cicerone prepared a very quick introduction to this historic trekking trail along the boundary between England and Wales and we are sharing it here with you. 


Where is Offa’s Dyke Path and how far is it?

The Offa’s Dyke Path starts in Sedbury, near Chepstow, and finishes in Prestatyn 177 miles later (285km). This well waymarked walk can easily be fitted into a two week holiday and, although long, is not too difficult. Sherpa Expeditions grades the walk as a moderate one that includes some long days and steep climbs and descends. 

Who was Offa and what is his dyke?

Offa became the king of Mercia in 757 and inherited a set of poor defensive ditches designed to protect his kingdom from invasion. Around the time of 780, King Offa organised the strengthening of the existing dykes by making the ditches deeper and piling the earth into high banks. All ‘facts’ about this are merrily disputed as there is little real evidence remaining. Still, Offa’s Dyke would have posed a considerable challenge to incomers from the Welsh side and, in some places, the bank is as high as 8 metres today.

Walking in Wales - Offa's Dyke

Offa's Dyke Walks in Wales - Sherpa Expeditions

Why should you go for an Offa’s Dyke walk?

Who doesn’t want to walk along Britain’s longest linear earthwork? Need more reasons? What about hiking in the Wye Valley (one of the southern UK’s most dramatic and scenic landscapes)? Visiting historic castles and abbeys dating from 1066? Or the fact that you are walking along the boundary of a former kingdom? 

 

When should you go?

The Offa’s Dyke Path can be enjoyed in any season but the shorter days of winter may scupper some of the longer stages. You would also need to prepare for winter conditions, particularly on the high hills. The bluebell woodlands in springtime are a particular highlight. We recommend walking Offa’s Dyke between April and October. 

 

Where should you stay?

There are areas of this walk that are remote from towns and services and accommodation must be carefully planned. Travel with Sherpa Expeditions to take away this hassle. The long-standing relationship with charming hotels and guesthouses helps getting availability, even in busy periods, such as the Hay on Wye festival or at the time of the Grand National in Chepstow. 

Walking Offa's Dyke Path - Sherpa Expeditions

Best bit:

The oldest stone-built castle in the UK just happens to be in Chepstow, the start of Offa’s Dyke Path, and is utterly spectacular.

Check out the Cicerone Extra article on How to pack for a long distance trek or find all details on our 8-day Offa’s Dyke walking holiday