There’s a definite appeal to pulling on your walking boots, loading up your backpack and heading out for a multi-day adventure. Fortunately, there are hundreds of long-distance walking routes here in the UK, maybe even thousands if you count the ‘unofficial’ routes. Many of these walks you will have heard of, such as the South West Coast Path, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Path, Scotland’s West Highland Way, and the classic Pennine Way walking route.
We’re a bit spoilt for choice when it comes to our walking routes, and while those well-known routes might steal the limelight, there are plenty of other great walks that you might not have heard of. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path this summer and head out for a few days of great walking and gain a much-needed sense of freedom, maybe one of these lesser-known routes could be for you. In this post we’ll look at five long distance walks that you probably haven’t heard of…
The Two Moors Way
Most people will be vaguely aware of the classic coast to coast walk that runs from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire, but did you know that Devon has its own coast to coast walk?
The Two Moors Way runs for 117 miles from Wembury on the south coast of Devon to Lynmouth on the north coast. Along the way, it crosses two of our national parks – Dartmoor and Exmoor.
The route can be walked in either direction and passes the wild and barren moorland of Dartmoor, as well as the quaint rural villages of mid-Devon. It’s a walk that can be tackled in one go, wild camping or overnighting at B&Bs as you go, or it can be broken down into a series of day walks and completed over a longer period of time.
At around 60 miles shorter than the classic Wainwright Coast to Coast walk, the Two Moors Way is a great alternative for those who have a shorter amount of time to go walking or want to explore a completely different part of the country.
The Cumbria Way
It’s no secret that the Lake District is a walkers paradise. There are hundreds of fells to walk, summits to reach and vistas to enjoy. For long-distance walkers, the Cumbria is perhaps best known as the starting point of the coast to coast walk, but there is another great option here, too.
The Cumbria Way runs for 70-miles from Ulverston to Carlisle and cuts through some of the most stunning scenery the Lake District has to offer.
You can expect to be walking through verdant valleys, along lakeside paths and through picturesque Lakeland villages. The route cuts through Cumbria at a fairly low level, making this a great option for those wanting to explore the Lake District without heading up to the summits.
The scenery along the route is there to be savoured, and although those who are of a really good level of fitness could tackle the 70-miles fairly quickly, the route is best enjoyed over 5 days at a more moderate pace.
The Snowdonia Way
The Snowdonia Way, in some ways, is similar to the Cumbria Way in the fact that it can be a fairly low-level walk that cuts through the mountains, enjoying spectacular scenery from the valleys. However, for those looking for a really epic walk with some challenges thrown in, the Snowdonia Way offers up mountain route alternatives along the way. Each day you can simply choose whether you stick to the low-level route or take in a summit instead.
The main route runs for 97-miles from Machynlleth to Conwy, and if you add the mountain routes along the way that total becomes 122-miles and becomes one of the more challenging long distance walks.
Typically, the Snowdonia Way is tackled in 6-8 days, but if you’re adding the summits into the routes too, you might want a rest day in the middle somewhere.
As you’d expect with a route of this nature, the walk takes in some serious mountain terrain in areas where the weather can change very quickly, so it is best enjoyed during the summer months.
The Cape Wrath Trail
Think of long-distance walking trails in Scotland and it is probably the West Highland Way or the Great Glen Way that springs to mind. However, it is arguably the Cape Wrath Trail that is the most revered amongst hikers.
Running from Fort William to Cape Wrath, the Cape Wrath Trail is an unofficial route that covers some of the most wild and remote landscapes that the UK has to offer. As the route is not waymarked and often has no path at all, there is no official distance for the route. Each person who tackles the trail will take a slightly different route, but 240-miles is the average distance.
Make no mistake that this is a challenging route that can take between 15-20 days, and requires a very good level of navigational skill and the ability to carry everything you need for several days at a time. Most of the route will require wild camping along the way, with limited options for resupplying.
It’s a beast of a route, but definitely one for the bucket list.
The Dales Way
The Dales Way is an 80-mile long-distance walking route that runs from Ilkey in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria. The Dales Way runs through two national parks, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Lake District National Park.
For much of the route, you will be following the river as it cuts through the valleys and passes through the incredible scenery of the Yorkshire Dales and into the Lake District.
The low level of the walk makes this one of the less strenuous long-distance walking routes in the area, and those with good fitness and limited time can complete the route in as little as four days. However, if you’re not in a rush and really want to savour the journey and the incredible scenery, the route is best tackled in 6 or 7 days.