UK National Trails---long distance walks

Nov 4th, 2009, 09:30 AM
  #1  
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UK National Trails---long distance walks

After seeing the article onthe Ridgeway Trail in the Sunday NY Times Travel section, some friends and I are thinking of this or another trail for a nice 10-day holiday in the UK.

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/

We are in our 50's and 60's, very fit and well-traveled. Once we started talking, we learned that we have all wanted to walk Hadrian's Wall, the Cotswold Way, or other trails as well. So now we are gathering information and opinions so we can decide which one, and when.

We would like a walk through lovely and somewhat varied scenery, 10 to 14 miles a day, with overnights in village B&B's.

We would like to go in Spring or Fall (April/May or September/October).

If you have walked one of these paths, or have thoughts on any of them, and the best time to go---I'd love to hear about it.

thanks!
enzian is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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I've really only done the central part of Hadrian's Wall, and that is both varied and (to my taste) lovely. You can never be entirely sure of the weather - either of your chosen periods could have a warm and sunny spell or a bit of cool and rain (or both), but my preference would be April/May, as the days would be getting longer.

There are many companies that will offer a package of accommodation, baggage transfer, maps and guidebooks, and so on.

You might also be interested in

http://megrobb.typepad.com/britishtravel/

http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee/...land_2004.html
PatrickLondon is online now  
Nov 4th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Thank you, PatrickLondon!

Hadrian's Wall is the most appealing path to me, as I like the more rugged terrain. A bit of rainy weather is not cause for a fuss---we live in Seattle. (On the other hand, constant cold, wind, and rain would be discouraging.)

I thought that the Cotswolds or Ridgeway areas, being farther south, might offer better weather prospects, but also would be more crowded. Is this so?

I'll look into the packages. One of my friends suggested whe would like the baggage transfer so this might be a good option.
enzian is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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There are a couple of long threads on here about walking the Cotswold Way - a quick search should bring one/both up.

Either Hadrian's Wall or the Cotswolds would be wonderful - you really couldn't choose wrong.

Another terrific option would be the coastal path in Cornwall (I seem to remember a thread about walking this one too)

I've been to and walked in all these places but haven't actually done them as a 'walking holiday'. Half a day's walk, then a day touring by car, more touring, a bit more walking - that sort of thing.
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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Didn't see your post:

"being farther south, might offer better weather prospects, but also would be more crowded. Is this so?"

Absolutely no way to know - could be warm and lovely up north and cold/rainy down south, or the opposite, or neither

Also, crowds would not be an issue in any of those places at any of those times (except for the bank holiday weekends at the beginning and end of May).
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:25 AM
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There's a bit of a lesson in the answers you're getting. Walking the whole of one of these branded National Ways is a VERY minority interest.

Almost all of us lives within a mile of a footpath that's part of the immense national network of unbranded paths - even slap bang in the middle of London, Oxford or Liverpool. So 99.9% of paths' use is by people doing what Patrick and jasnisj are describing. Whence, a few things follow:

- crowds are a non-issue. With a few exceptions, the branded National Ways have no advantages at all over the plain vanilla variety. So there's no incentive for anyone, but the minority trying to "do" them, to use the National Ways. You sometimes find crowds (ie more than five people every 15 mins) at the Derbyshire Dales or in the Lake District - but hardly ever on the bits of National Ways I've used

- I'd argue a National Way needs a real reason to be used. Hadrian's Wall I can understand: I honestly don't see the point of the Cotswolds Way, which (apart from the fundamentally unCotswold earnestness of the whole idea) spends far too much of its time in what passes for remote countryside round here and takes you near disappointingly few towns and villages: the real point of Cotswold walking is the view down to the village and its church from the hill overlooking it.

Now the Coast to Coast paths...

- Light is probably a bigger issue than weather, since dealing with English paths in the gloom is a recipe for twisting ankles on unburied tree roots. After March 21 and before Sept 21 would be my rule for days involving over 15 miles. Otherwise you lose flexibility: by late October, your day's driven by needing to get to Point X before it gets dark. Most of the time, English weather is close to perfect for walking: but our autumnal short days are a bugger for relentless daily long grinds. Which is why we do so many 8-12 miles a day gentle meanders.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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" . . . your day's driven by needing to get to Point X before it gets dark."

I remember in one of the Cotswold Way threads that exact thing. They ended up trying to find their way to the next stop in the dark.

When I get a chance, I'll search for that one for you
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Hadrians Wall walk , which takes about 6 days, is very popular with Dutch people. They get the ferry to Newcastle, and head west, usually staying at B&Bs along the way. I know some B&Bs will meet the walkers at set points along the route, returning them there again, usually with a packed lunch, the following day.

The Ridgeway is a lovely walk and will take you along the most ancient path in Britain. Parts of it may be crowded - well slightly busy- at weekends but during the week it will be quiet, though horses and cyclists can use part of it, as sadly can 4x4s in the summer. It takes you through the Chiltern Hills,woodland, valleys, along the Thames, over high downs, past the Uffington White Horse and prehistoric sites such as Waylands smithy.
hetismij is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 01:18 PM
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Thank you so much.

janisj--I'll look for those other threads on the Cotswolds. I did a half-day walk there 10 years ago (Upper to Lower Slaughter) and have wanted to return ever since.

Flanneruk---thanks for your comments. I hadn't thought about the daylight factor, but we'll moslt likely go in April, May or September so we should be OK. And I don't go anywhere without a small flashlight.

And I didn't realize that the Cotswold Way spent so much time in remote areas---somehow I thought it traversed from village to village. I have a map on order so will take a look.

As for walking one path end to end, I'm not committed to that, although one of the other women may be. She walked the Camino di Santiago last June and likes the idea. For me, I would be happy to do sections of several different trails, or other areas, just so we get about 8 days of walking, and see some nice villages (and pubs).

hetismij---the western part of the Ridgeway, from Avebury and up past the Uffington White Horse, was our original thought. Looking at the map, we could link form there to the Thames path, and back toward the cotswolds for a few more days' walking there.

But then there's Hadrians's Wall, which has long been at the top of my list.
enzian is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 01:30 PM
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Found one of them . . .

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...--nov-2007.cfm
janisj is online now  
Nov 4th, 2009, 09:10 PM
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janisj--thank you for the link. Now that I see it, I remember that trip report, but wouldn't have been able to find it myself.

PatrickLondon, I love your SlowTrav trip report. But now I wonder---if we start in Newcastle, are we four ladies in danger of being mistaken for a hen party? Or will we be safe as long as we forgo the tiaras?

I see you used Contour, and suggest that was more cost-effective than a do-it-yourself. That might be a good options for us, then.

Or would you recommend using Haltwhistle as a base and walking different section from there, if we want the best sections rather than end to end?

At this point I'm thinking of a few days each on three paths, the Ridgeway, Cotswolds, and Hadrian's Wall, but who know if my friends will go along with the idea. I think we have a year or so to sort it out.
enzian is offline  
Nov 5th, 2009, 05:46 AM
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The advantage of Haltwhistle as a base is that you don't have to pack up every day. The disadvantage is that you either have to wait for the first bus of the day (which, if memory serves, is relatively late, about 10am, but I may be wrong) to take you to the start of your day's walk, or you spend an hour or more going over familiar ground before you get to somewhere new. But Haltwhistle is about halfway between the endpoints of the most dramatic parts of the scenery, which you could easily cover in a couple of days, and have another day visiting Vindolanda, and maybe Chesters.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Nov 5th, 2009, 11:39 AM
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re PatrickLondon's post -- what you can do if you don't want to wait for the first bus (and it does depend on your specific landlord) -- but I've found them generally happy to drop you off somewhere nearby. Or you can book a local taxi - for your group it would be less than £5 a person to be delivered to the starting point of your day's walk.
janisj is online now  
Nov 6th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Fair point. I tend to be mean about taxis.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Nov 9th, 2009, 01:56 AM
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There are some in Scotland too.
sheila is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 07:34 AM
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Here's another company that sorts it out for you, baggage transfer, accommodation etc.

http://www.sherpavan.com/trails/trailselectorrc.asp
julia_t is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 08:03 AM
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Thanks for the link, julia_t---I've bookmarked it and printed several possibilities to present to my friends.

sheI know of the West Highland Way, are there others as well? Would they offer good walking in April, or is that too early?
enzian is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 08:11 AM
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