What are National Trails?
National Trails are long distance routes for walking, cycling and horse riding through the finest landscapes in England and Wales. In Scotland the equivalent trails are called long distance routes.
Altogether, in England and Wales, there are about 2,500 miles (4,000km) of National Trail.
They have all been created by linking existing local footpaths, bridleways and minor roads and by developing new ones where there were gaps.
There are 15 Trails in England and Wales (2 of these are suitable for use by horse riders and cyclists along their entire length) and 4 in Scotland.
How did National Trails come about?
Walking in the wild and beautiful parts of Britain became increasingly popular in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. After World War II the desire to keep areas of Britain “special” and to protect them from post-war development led to the establishment of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs) and Long Distance Routes (now called National Trails in England and Wales).
The first such route, the Pennine Way, opened in 1965 and since then another 14 have been designated in England and Wales.
How are National Trails looked after?
Each Trail in England and Wales has a National Trail Officer or Manager who is responsible for overseeing its management and maintenance to nationally agreed standards.
Each National Trail Officer co-ordinates maintenance, improvement and promotional work on the ground. Much of the maintenance work is undertaken by the local highway authority together with landowners and, often, with the help of volunteers.
Funding for National Trails is provided by national government through Natural England and Natural Resources Wales and also by local highway authorities and other funding partners.
On average Natural England has funded £2m of work in each of the last 3 years.