COVID 19 Update. Last Updated: Wednesday 6th January 2021

Important: All National Trail users need to ensure they are following the latest Government rules and guidance. The relevant links are provided below.

Exercise is important for health and wellbeing, but please follow guidance to stay safe and protect others.

Measures in Wales are different from those in England, please read the Welsh and English Governments up to date guidance.

Read the up-to-date Tier 4 measures effective in Wales here.

Read the full up-to-date rules effective in England here. Those relevant to visiting green space include you:

  • must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary.
  • may leave your home to exercise once per day.
  • may exercise outside of your home with your household (or support bubble) or with one other person,
  • should not travel outside your local area, but you can travel a short distance within your area to exercise if necessary (for example, to access an open space).
  • must wear a face covering in most enclosed public settings, unless you have an exemption
  • should follow the rules on meeting others safely
  • must not go out for exercise if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

You should read the full advice and regulations for England here before exercising outdoors.

Relevant advice when using National Trails in England:

  • Wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.
  • Take hand sanitiser with you in case there are no handwashing facilities.
  • Make space and stay at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household or support bubble where possible, or at least 1 metre with precautions, such as wearing a face mask.
  • Follow the Countryside Code. Leave no trace of your visit, take all your litter home and don’t light fires or barbecues.
  • Keep dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals.
  • Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.
  • Use footpaths and follow signs where they suggest an alternative route to protect other people and protect the natural environment.
  • Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing
  • Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods.

Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space’

National Trails – The Great Walking Trails

Introduction to the Trails

National Trails are long distance walks through some of the very best landscapes the UK has to offer. Some of them can also be ridden on mountain bike or horse. They are special – they have been designated by the Government and are managed to a set of Quality Standards that set them above other routes. You will find the trails well waymarked with the distinctive acorn symbol. Each trail is looked after by a dedicated officer often with teams of volunteers.

National Trails offer a wide range of experiences from the dramatic and beautiful South West Coast Path to the stunning Norfolk Coast Path with its big skies and amazing wildlife. You can walk in the footsteps of Romans on Hadrian’s Wall Path, or in the footsteps of pilgrims on the North Downs Way. If you fancy a more serious challenge the Pennine Way might be for you with its ever-changing scenery, or maybe the Cleveland Way which offers the very best of heather moorland and craggy coastal walking.

If you are looking for peace and quiet in beautiful countryside you could try Glyndwr’s Way, created to celebrate the Welsh rebel Prince Owain Glyndwr, or the Yorkshire Wolds Way with its chalk landscape that has inspired so many artists including David Hockney. You could walk the English/Welsh border, and cross it 26 times, on Offa’s Dyke Path, or explore the dramatically beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast Path. If you are new to long distance walking the Thames Path is a great choice. Following the mighty river Thames from the source in the Cotswold Hills all the way to the Thames Barrier it is downhill all the way (well nearly). If history is your thing you can follow Britain’s oldest road on The Ridgeway National Trail.

If you prefer to explore on a bike or horse the South Downs Way or Pennine Bridleway are the ones for you. Following lanes and track, packhorse routes and drovers’ roads they take you on a journey through fabulous scenery.

For those looking for something seriously challenging how about the England Coast Path? It’s not complete yet, but when it is it will go all around the coast of England – making it the longest coastal trail in the world.

Background to National Trails

National Trails are long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes through the best landscapes in England and Wales. In Scotland the equivalent trails are called Scotland’s Great Trails.

There are 16 National Trails. Walkers can enjoy them all, cyclists and horse riders can enjoy the Pennine Bridleway and the South Downs Way, as well as sections of the other Trails. In total, England and Wales have around 2,500 miles (4,000 Km) of National Trail.

The England Coast Path is the newest (and will be the longest) National Trail when it is complete. Some sections are now open and more will be opening over the coming months.

Download The Best Trails in England and Wales leaflet (pdf) to find out more about the National Trails.

For an overview of the Trails download our Trail Comparison chart.

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 Trail was the Pennine Way, opened in 1965.

How are National Trails looked after?

Each Trail in England and Wales has a Trail Partnership made up of the local authorities responsible for the path on the ground. Usually there is a dedicated National Trail Officer or Manager with responsibility for keeping the Trail up to the high standards set for National Trails. Maintenance work is carried out by the local highway authorities together with landowners 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.

Explore our interactive trail map

Explore our interactive trail map

National Trails

Take on the challenge of a demanding trek along the spine of England or meander through rolling countryside – it’s your choice.

Cleveland Way

Experience the varied landscape of the North York Moors National Park on a journey across breathtaking heather moorland and dramatic coastline

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Cotswold Way

Step back in time in scenic southern England on an idyllic walk through the Cotswolds to the Roman city of Bath

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England Coast Path - North East

From the Scottish Border to the Wash this incredibly varied stretch of coast has it all.

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England Coast Path - North West

From the Scottish Border to the Welsh Border this stretch of coast is a journey of contrasts

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England Coast Path - South East

From the Wash to Southampton, passing stunning wildlife and culture

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England Coast Path - South West

From the Welsh Border to Southampton this dramatic stretch of coast is bound to impress

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Glyndŵr’s Way

Celebrate Welsh cultural and natural history in the footsteps of Owain Glyndŵr on this peaceful trail.

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Hadrian's Wall Path

Follow in the footsteps of Romans and trek alongside an ancient monument on a coast to coast walk across northern England

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North Downs Way

Trace ancient routes on a modern-day pilgrimage through Surrey to the Kent Coast at Dover, along one of England's most accessible trails

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Offa's Dyke Path

Be surrounded by history and wildlife beside the 8th Century ancient monument along the English-Welsh Border.

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Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

Lose yourself in a magical land of history, heathland, sand dunes, salt marshes and nature reserves.

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Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Follow the most breathtaking coastline in Britain past rugged cliffs, sheltered coves and stunning beaches

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Pennine Bridleway

Follow ancient packhorse routes, drovers roads and newly created bridleways through the magnificent Pennines.

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Pennine Way

Walk the backbone of Britain from the Peak District to the Scottish Borders on England’s first National Trail

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South Downs Way

Travel the length of the South Downs passing attractive wildlife, visible prehistory, fine pubs and pretty villages.

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South West Coast Path

Walk hundreds of miles of superb coastline through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset on England’s longest National Trail

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Thames Path

Follow the greatest river in England past water meadows, unspoilt rural villages and historical towns and cities

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The Ridgeway

Take a route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers through ancient landscapes.

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Yorkshire Wolds Way

Discover the Yorkshire Wolds dry valleys and wildflowers alongside vibrant market towns and ancient villages

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