The North of England, whose physical boundary is much debated, depending on how ‘North’ you reside. Regardless, Northern England beautiful part of the country, which so much to offer those traveling on foot. For the purpose of this guide, we are looking at routes from the Peak District to the Scottish Border.
The countryside in the North is home to 4 National Parks, from the rugged mountain scenery of the Lake District to the gritstone moors, and limestone dales of the Peak District. The Yorkshire Dales, and Moors grace the county of Yorkshire with much interest, yet very different landscapes, and the Northumberland National Park further up North is abundant with forest.
It’s no surprise that a number of well-recognized long-distance trails have emerged over the past 20-30 years in the North. In this guide, we will be looking at the top 10 long-distance trails in the North of England.
The Coast To Coast Walk
St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay
First and foremost on this list is the Coast to Coast walk.
Wainwrights Coast to Coast walk spans 182 miles and can be walked over 12-19 days. The route takes walkers from St Bees on the North West coastline and finishes in the quint Yorkshire village of Robin Hoods Bay.
Walkers are in for a treat with the Coast to Coast, with cuts through 3 National Parks, starting in the Lake District, before going through the Yorkshire Dales and finishing in the Yorkshire Moors
The route has been made famous by the well-known gentleman who first devised, and walked the route – Alfred Wainwright, who trespassed for much of the route prior to well-established paths and rights of way being in place for walkers. The appeal of the Coast to Coast and many UK long-distance trails is the sense of exploration you get.
The Dales Way
Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere
The Dales Way runs 84 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere on the banks of Lake Windermere in the Lake District. The route follows riverside paths and travels through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and then the rolling foothills of the Lake District.
There is much to see on the Dales Way, including a couple of spectacular viaducts, the ruins of Bolton Abbey, and a number of quaint villages along the way which really give you a sense of that idyllic village life.
The beginning of the route will see you walking along rivers, which will feel steady and enjoyable. Do be aware however that the middle section will be over more remote moorland which will require a little more concentration as you keep tabs on where you are.
The Yorkshire Wolds Way
Humber to Filey
The Yorkshire Wolds way is ideal for those who are looking for a relatively straightforward, well-signposted route, but with almost nobody else walking it.
With the Yorkshire Moors in close proximity, the Yorkshire Wolds AONB remains a little unknown gem of English countryside which is so often overlooked by walkers. This makes an excellent reason why you should walk the Yorkshire Wold’s Way National Trail.
The Yorkshire Wolds Way starts in Humber and finishes in Filey. The route ambles through dales, woodlands, and agricultural countryside. The walk is ideal for those wanting to wild camp due to the absence of tourists. However, those wanting to stay in nice places will be treated to quite a lot of choice.
For a summer walk away from the crowds, here is your pick.
Derwent Valley Heritage Way
Ladybower to Shardlow
The River Derwent is an 80km long river which starts in Ladybower, at its source in Ladybower Reservoir, and finishes at Shardlow, south of the city of Derby. The Peak District is a busy National Park but much of the route is serene riverside with some busier sections through the towns and villages you pass.
Much of the route is downhill too as you are following the direction of the river. The highlights are the historic spots on the way. The river is rich with natural, and industrial history – being a key route to many exports of old and an engine to many old mills on the route.
If you are looking for a straightforward, and highly enjoyable route to walk with lots of history and interest this one not to be missed.
Peak District Boundary Walk
Ladybower to Shardlow
The Peak District Boundary walk is a circular long-distance hike that loosely follows the boundary of the Peak District National Park, starting and finishing in the historic spa town of Buxton.
The walking itself is incredibly varied, with a lot to offer, from walking through a number of pretty boundary villages, such as Hartington, and Thorpe, to enjoying views over Chatsworth House. The walk is however harder than some. It’s not particularly well recognized as it’s only been recently developed therefore luggage transfer isn’t readily available. That being said, it’s fully waymarked, with a good guidebook to assist you on your way. A set of two OS Maps are essential purchases and cover all areas of the walk. The route follows established footpaths with generally good levels of accommodation.
The Northumberland Coast Path
Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed
Castles and long beaches. That neatly sums up the Northumberland Coast Path. This relatively flat walk will be of great appeal to those who want a coastal walk, untainted by the busyness of some other coastal areas in the UK. Expect a number of really interesting historic waymarks on the route, such as Bamburgh Castle, and The Holy Island which is cut off from the mainland daily due to the causeway which drops below the sea when the tide rises.
The Northumberland Coast Path is an ideal long-distance walk for those looking for a coastal walk without the ups and downs along high and unforgiving cliff edges. Instead, you will be treated to unspoiled wild coastline with steady terrain throughout the hike.
St Oswalds Way
Heavenfield to Lindisfarne
The St Oswald’s Way, a pilgrimage route, is plotted along the same trajectory of the king St Oswald, born in the 7th Century.
Hikers start at Heavenfield under a wooden cross erected by Oswald before he defeated the Welsh and Mercian forces. The end of the route at Lindisfarne is the burial place of Oswald, well at least his head…
The route itself follows part of the Hadrian’s Wall from Chollerford, before heading across open countryside to the Northumberland Coast Path. Highlights include medieval abbeys, neolithic sites, sites of scientific interest, heather moorland, and of course the Northumberland Coast Path.
The Hadrian’s Wall Path
Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway
This article would not be complete without the inclusion of the famous Hadrian’s Wall Path. After all, how could you miss the great wall in the North? The original wall, designed to keep those pesky rampaging Scotts out of Roman Britain.
What was a fine fortification built from sea to sea, stretching from Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway is now a ruin for much of its length, but it has some well-preserved sections along the way. In addition, it also has some well-excavated settlements, garrisons, and fortresses.
History aside, the Hadrian’s Wall Path makes for some excellent countryside walking. Along the route, you will pass through several small villages and larger cities such as Carlisle. There is an abundance of B&B’s and campsites on route making this a walk that suits walkers of all preferences.
The Cumbria Way
Ulverston to Carlisle
The Cumbria way one through the UK’s favorite National Park – The Lake District. The route was created by the local Ramblers Association back in the 70s. Walkers start in the town of Ulverston and finish in Carlisle.
The start of the route is low-level walking. After Langdale, hikers will start to gain height with some breath taking mountain walking over Stake Pass, Skiddaw, and High Pike. Finally, you will drop down into easier walking through woodland and fields before walking into Carlisle. The walk is an incredible way to experience the Lake District National Park, and the wider county of Cumbria. It’s a bucked list essential walk for hikers of all experience.
The Cleveland Way
Helmsley to Filey
The Cleveland Way National Trail runs between Helmsley and Filey, cutting through the North Yorkshire Moors. The route is 110 miles in total and was actually the second National Trail in England and Scotland to officially open. You will start il Helmsley and cross farmland and heather upland before meeting the coastline ad Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
At this point, you will head south down the Yorkshire Coastline. You will pass several quaint fishing villages and towns such as Whitby, and robin Hoods bay before finishing the route in Filey.