The “Walks I Want To Do” List

Published 10 September 2014

Looking puzzled, next to a bridge

“So what walks do you want to do then?” asked Catherine one afternoon over a pint, as we sat in a pub beer garden with a child sleeping in his buggy.

Over the years there have been a number of walks I’ve considered doing. Some I’d done, some I hadn’t. There’d always been more walks to do than I possibly had time to actually walk them.

Later that afternoon, I began to rack my brain for them all; work out what I might want to do. And why.

When I finally wrote my list, I was surprised. There was only nine walks on it. It had always felt like more in my head.

The list became a spreadsheet, complete with length of walk, and notes on transport. And, most important of all, was the column marked “Why?”. Why did I want to do each one.

Reading this you may wonder just what went on that list. And why. Well, I thought I’d tell you. So here they are, in no particular order.

Thames Path (184 miles)

A bit of a cheat as I’ve already started it, but the Thames Path fits on the list. Okay, it might not be the most stunning scenery, but there’s a bit of me that’s interested in seeing how the river changes as I head upstream. Plus it has the bonus of being walkable in day hikes, with no overnight stays required. For the most part anyway.

East Highland Way (82 miles)

All being well, I will have recently finished this one as you read this page. But the list was created in June, and this post itself was written before I headed off. To make sure you had something to read whilst I wasn’t around.

Why do this one? Well it’s Scotland and I love the highlands and want to explore more of it. It connects nicely with the West Highland Way which I walked several years ago, and has the added bonus of sleeper trains journeys! And I just love sleeper trains to Scotland. Let’s hope this one lives up to the expectations.

Yorkshire Wolds Way (79 miles)

One of the themes for several items on the list is exploring new areas. The UK is a small country but there’s so much I have never explored. I know next to nothing about the Yorkshire Wolds, yet they’ve got a National Trail going through them so there must be something to be said about it. Plus it’s a walk you can do in less than a week. Perfect.

Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path (93 miles)

More than one person is going to look at me baffled when I say this, but no, I’ve never been to Norfolk either. Not once. Catherine looks at me baffled every time I mention this walk (well, two walks) too. Isn’t Norfolk just flat and boring? Possibly, but I’ve seen some stunning photographs of the Norfolk coast line and it makes me want to visit. And it’s a National Trail. So it must be good. Or something. So on the list it goes. Even if the start of the Peddars Way is accessible only by a bus which you have to pre-book yourself onto.

Great Glen Way (79 miles)

As my notes say, “Scotland! Dramatic scenery! Sleeper trains!” It’s another walk that connects with the West Highland Way, and was a prime candidate for my recent adventure. Until I decided that following the towpath of a canal might not be the most exciting walk. Still, it goes near Loch Ness which I’ve promised myself I will visit one day.

St Swithuns Way (34 miles)

Running from Winchester to Farnham, when combined with the Clarendon Way and most of the North Downs Way, you get the modern Pilgrims Way. And as I’ve done the other two, I feel there’s a hole that needs filling.

As excuses for a walk go, this is a flimsy one. Still completionism is a personality trait I have to bear. Plus it’s doable in day hikes so will give me something to do once I’ve done the Thames Path.

Thames Path Extension (10 miles)

If you’re going to do the whole of the Thames Path, you might as well do the ten mile extension at the eastern end as well. It may not be officially part of the National Trail, but it’s there. And it’s doable in a day.

Speyside Way (65-80 miles)

There may have been an element of copy and paste in my reasons, as the excuse for doing the Speyside Way also reads as “Scotland! Dramatic scenery! Sleeper trains!” And adds in “Whisky!” too. A chance to do a walk along the River Spey, in my favourite whisky producing region? Who wouldn’t want to?

Cape Wrath Trail (200 miles)

Chances are that this trail, yet again from Fort William to the north coast of Scotland, is going to be on this list for some time. It’s a big time commitment after all, needing 18-20 days. Why do it? Well it’s an insane challenge. Probably a bonkers one. It’s the most remote walking trail in Britain. And if that’s not a good enough reason to do it, I don’t know what is.


So that’s the lot. But what else could be on there? Any ideas? Feel free to suggest them below, or critique my logic as well!

Your Comments

Chris Hunt

10 September 2014 at 3:23 pm

Two suggestions – one a walk that I’ve done, the other one that I want to do. What both walks have in common is that both end on the coast, a feature I deem particularly desirable in a long walk: it’s great to catch that first glimpse of the sea and know that the end is (literally) in sight.

The one that I’ve done is the St Cuthbert’s Way. Great little walk that packs a lot of variety into a week or so. No big mountains on the route, but good things can come in small packages. The highlight was walking barefoot over the sand to get to Lindisfarne on the last day. I’ve linked to a fuller account of the walk above.

The one I want to do is the Two Moors Way. I don’t know the southwest terribly well, so this seems like the perfect way to get to know it – walk across Dartmoor, then across Exmoor, finish at the sea. What’s not to like?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

10 September 2014 at 10:06 pm

Hi Chris – funnily enough someone I met in Scotland was trying to persuade me to do the St Cuthbert’s Way. She was biased though as she lives near it! And the Two Moors Way is a great call. I can’t remember how I’ve heard about it in the past, but it’s always sounded intriguing and should be on the list!

Matthew King

14 September 2014 at 9:01 am

Like you I have a (disturbingly long) list of walks I want to do. Similar to you, some of the longer ones far from the south east are starting to look a little bit like fantasy walks. Chief among these is the Cape Wrath Trail which due to its remoteness and the need to be self-sufficient for the best part of 3 weeks versus my apparent tolerance limit of about 11 days looks increasingly unlikely.

More realistically, the one I really want to do is a Coast to Coast, but not THE Coast to Coast. I have no hankering to follow the crowds, and so have designed a more personal route that ends at Holy Island. Even so I’ll probably have to split it in two or it runs the risk of turning out like the Cambrian Way (15 days and two trips and I’m still only at Llandovery).

I find my problem with many long distance walks is that there’s always a bit of them that doesn’t appeal, so I find myself looking to customise them, or in several cases use the official route purely as inspiration for a completely self-planned long walk. This also takes off the pressure to meet stage targets etc.

I’m also hoping to work my way through most of the long distance paths in the south east that are doable in daily chunks – things like the Saxon Shore Way, for instance. But I’m not allowed to start any of these until I’ve finished the North Downs Way and London Loop.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

15 September 2014 at 9:54 am

I am always cautious about customising routes myself, as my own local knowledge of the area is generally not amazing. Plus it’s easier to leave the hard work of route planning to someone else! That said I did recently make a detour on the East Highland Way and from what I heard from others walking the main path, it was well worth doing. I made that one after hearing some local knowledge of the area, and I was glad I did.

Can also understand not wanting to do the main Coast to Coast route – it’s not a quiet experience. It was fun in many respects but there were nights that I just wanted to go to the pub and just sit quietly in the corner without seeing all same the people. The route is lovely but like the West Highland Way, it’s become a victim of its own success. Still, part of me would love to do it again – just perhaps not at the height of summer when everyone is out there.

Richard Frost

21 January 2015 at 12:04 pm

Being a self confessed long distance walking addict I am gradually working my way through our wonderful National Trails and when I read your walks to do list I felt I had to comment on one that I have completed. I walked Peddars Way Norfolk Coastal Path 4 years ago and I found it an absolutely outstanding National Trail with the best beachside, coastal walking I have experienced in the UK with wonderful coastal views mixed with big skies. Combine this with the lovely towns and villages along the way which are perfect for a stop off for a bite to eat and a pint before starting off again for more great coastal walking. The first half of the trail Peddars Way offers wonderful quiet rural walking where your only walking companions will be the myriad of Hares that seem to abound in this part of Norfolk . All in all a fabulous National Trail which I recommend to be on your done list. Keep up the walking and good fun writing and I have always enjoyed your reports on the trails you have walked and I found the write up about Glyndwrs way very useful before I walked it recently.
Have a great years walking,
Regards,
Richard.

Dave wrght

8 February 2015 at 6:21 pm

Hiked wolds way twice spend a lot of time there,St Cuthberts is a good trail.WHW is great but a bit to busy for me.My pal did GGW didn,t rate it./..EHW this year. Cleveland way.Limestone way .Thinking of Peddars Way also,best stop now getting a bit giddy.All the best whatever hike,s you do this year
Regards Dave

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