Pointless National Trail bagging stats!

Published 29 July 2018. Last updated 23 February 2020

A few weeks ago I was in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and then North Yorkshire. I was there walking the Yorkshire Wolds Way, a National Trail that runs from Hessle near Hull, to Filey near Scarborough. The northern end is also the end of the Cleveland Way.

There will be much more said about that trip in the future, but whilst I was there I started thinking about National Trails and how many I’d walked. And that can only mean one thing. Graphs!

First of all, what is a National Trail? Well they’re basically long distance walking routes, although two of them are also bridleways. What puts them above any other walking trail is that they’re sanctioned and administered at a national level. Just as there are parks and National Parks, so there are trails and National Trails. In England and Wales anyway. Four walking routes were also created in Scotland, but these were never branded as National Trails for some unknown reason. These days the four Scottish routes have been absorbed into a 29 strong network called Scotland’s Great Trails. For simplification, we’ll not worry about the Scotland Four here.

There are fifteen National Trails in the UK, and they look like this:

As you can see, all but three are less than 200 miles, and many are below 100 miles in distance. In total they cover 2,592 miles. Although the actual mileage is slightly lower as there are a few moments where two routes meet up for a short distance. For example, the Pennine Way and Hadrian’s Wall Path follow the same path for a few miles. Whilst it is basically two routes, the Peddar’s Way and Norfolk Coast Path are classed as one National Trail.

Now then, I’ve walked some of those. I have. I have indeed. So let’s summarise that in a pie chart!

Wow! Look at that! 7 of the 15 of the trails walked! That’s 46.7%! Yep, that’s the Glyndwr’s Way, North Downs Way, Pennine Way, South Downs Way, Thames Path, The Ridgeway, and most recently the Yorkshire Wolds Way.

Still work to do, although it might take a long time before I can say I’ve done the South West Coast Path. And having done the Pennine Way, do I really want to ever do the Pennine Bridleway? But those are questions for another time.

But of course not all trails are created equal. So how does it look if we look at amount of miles walked?

Ah that looks less good. The lack of walking the South West Coast Path here making itself felt. I’ve walked 1,006 miles of National Trails. But there’s still 1,586 miles still to go. From a pure stats point of view, maybe the Pennine Bridleway would be a good idea.

Still there’s some good walks in there still left to go. Who wouldn’t want to do the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path after all?

Anyway that’s that. Some rather pointless stats, something to while away the ti…

Sorry what was that?

Oh. Right. I knew there’d be one. I’ve been waiting for this.

Yes, I am aware there’s not fifteen National Trails thanks. Yes, I know all about the England Coast Path.

For the benefit of everyone else, the sixteenth National Trail is going to run along the coastline of England. It’s going to be the longest waymarked coastal path in the world. And it will be in two parts, because, you know, Wales kind of gets in the way. Wales has its own coastal path, already fully open, although for whatever reason it isn’t a National Trail. Cos that would clearly make no sense. (Although a section of it that’s shared with the Pembrokeshire Coast Path obviously is a National Trail.)

Anyway, back to England. It’s not included here because the England Coast Path National Trail isn’t fully completed yet. Far from it actually. And besides, when it opens it’s going to come in at nearly 2,800 miles long. Well, you can imagine what that’s going to look like on the graphs…

Rambling Man’s going to be taking a little break for the next couple of months to allow me to focus on the epic task of both writing up my Yorkshire Wolds Way walk, and sorting out the 800 photos I took. That and going on holiday… But we’ll be back with the Yorkshire Wolds Way, hopefully more Wainwrights, and if you’re really lucky, tales of my West Highland Way walk from 2009!



29 July 2018 at 2:47 pm

I am looking forward to reading about your Yorkshire Wolds Way blog! I have to admit to reading your blog on the way to work, at work and on the way back from work. Work is so dull – I would much rather be walking!

My husband and I are also started working our way through National Trails – I made it my challenge on my 30th birthday, to complete one a year and so on my 35th birthday I will have walked 5! woop! So far, we are on track – we have done The Cleveland Way, West Highland Way & Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path.

Now planning one for April 2019 to make the most of the Easter bank hol – so here is my question for you: Out of all the national trails you have done, and giving yourself only 9 days (inc travel) which one would you walk and why?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

13 August 2018 at 10:32 am

Hello Lizzie – without a doubt, I’d go for the South Downs Way. It’s doable in seven days of walking, leaving two for travel. The South Downs is a real hidden gem of an area with lovely scenery and some great views!

Have fun!

Dan B

6 September 2018 at 7:19 am

This year I’ve managed South Downs way, The Ridgeway and The Cotswold way. I’ve just started sections of Offa’s Dyke and I’m aiming to link them all up with numerous day hike for a complete route from Eastbourne all the way up to Prestatyn ! Not sure I’ll finish this year, but maybe over a 12month period. Love these National trails and your site always helps when I’m planning, thanks !

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