There are 15 national trails in total in England and Wales, which are long-distance trails that are ideal for hiking, cycling, and even horseback riding. They take you through some of the most beautiful regions of the two countries. In total, there are approximately 2,500 miles of national hiking trails for you to enjoy.
The trails have been formed by linking existing roadways, bridleways, and footpaths as well as creating new ones to fill in any gaps.
(photo credit: peerlawther)
Hiking throughout Britain became quite popular in the early 1900s and after the Second World War, the government wanted to protect some areas of the countries from post-war development. To do this, several types of outdoor departments were created including the National Parks and Long Distance Routes, which are now known as the National Trails, but still called long distance routes in Scotland.
The first trail established was the Pennine Way in 1965. Each of the 15 paths is managed by a trail officer who makes sure the path meets national standards. Many volunteers often help keep the trails in tip-top shape. The trails are funded by the government and local roadway authorities as well as other partners.
One of the most popular of the National Trails is Cleveland Way which is located in North Yorkshire. This hike is 110 miles in length and if you’d like to complete the entire route it takes an average of nine days. A total of 20% of the Cleveland Way is suitable for horseback riders and cyclists. The hike begins in Helmsley’s Market square and the highest point along the way is Urra Moor at a height of 1,489 feet.
The trail ends at Filey Brigg, which is on the east coast about 6 miles south of the community of Scarborough. The trail takes hikers through England’s biggest open moorland as well as the Heritage Coast. You’ll cross rugged cliffs along the way as about 80% of the pathway lies within the boundaries of North York Moors National Park.
Some of the historic sites that you’ll pass by include Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley Castle, Whitby Abbey, Robin Hood’s Bay, Staithes Harbour, and Captain Cook’s monument. The views between Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay are exceptional as you’re along the coast. Also the stretch between Osmotherley and Clay Bank is located in the Cleveland Hills and is quite open.
Some of the nearest major towns along Cleveland Way include York, Newcastle, Whitby, and Scarborough. You can reach these communities by rail and bus. It takes about two hours to reach York by train from London.
You’ll find all sorts of places along the way if you’d like to stop for food and drinks. There are also numerous types of accommodations to choose from including dozens of campgrounds at communities in the national park. All of the sections of Cleveland Way are very scenic and you may come across some of the local wildlife and plant life along the way. Taking a camera with you is a good idea since there’s so much to see.