The National Trails Register

Published 13 June 2021

A wooden acorn sign roughly marking the half way point on the Yorkshire Wolds Way
A wooden acorn marks the half way point on the Yorkshire Wolds Way

A couple of years ago I totted up all the National Trails I had done, put some nice charts up, and looked at the results in glory. Well, who doesn’t like a doughnut chart?

At the time I had only completed seven of them, a figure that remains true to this day. I have done more trails, but only eight of them were National Trails as defined legally. They were all in England and Wales because National Trails don’t exist in Scotland. Well except for a tiny bit of the Pennine Way which crosses the border. Scotland used to have four official ‘Long Distance Routes’, of which I have done two. But they got absorbed into a wider concept called Scotland’s Great Trails, and there are 29 of them. Including them would have made the whole premise of the article far more complicated, so I took the easy way out and skipped the whole matter completely.

Once you’ve done more than one trail, there’s an inevitability that you start to think about whether you can tick them off. There are fifteen National Trails. 16 when the England Coast Path National Trail is finally complete. The more you do, the more you wonder how many you can do. (Although when all is said and done, there’s frankly no way I will ever complete the England Coast Path. At about 2,800 miles long, it simply ain’t happening.) And if you want to keep an official record of your progress, one way is through the Long Distance Walkers Association’s National Trails Register.

The register has four levels:

  • Bronze – for those who have walked at least five National Trails.
  • Silver – for those who have walked at least ten.
  • Gold – for those who have walked at least fifteen.
  • Diamond – for those who have walked all nineteen.

Yes, nineteen. The LDWA have included the four ‘original’ Scottish Long Distance Routers in their list. And not included the England Coast Path. Whether they will add the England Coast Path whenever it finally completes, is an entirely different question (perhaps they will need a whole new category for that.)

Although compiled by the Long Distance Walkers Association, you don’t need to be a member to join the register. You also don’t need to have walked the whole trail in one go – a trail is classed as complete if you did it all in one, in several day walks, or in multiple short trips. You don’t even have to walk the trail in order from beginning to end. And for good measure, you can (for a small fee) get a commemorative certificate to celebrate your achievements.

Alas I’m one short for getting the Silver rating. Had my Speyside Way trip not been cancelled last year, I would have been there. Whilst I have a big walking trip planned for this summer, it won’t count for the register. Which means I probably need to plan my next walk accordingly… Hey, I don’t want to stay on Bronze level for too long…


Ray Wilkes

28 November 2021 at 6:26 pm

The LDWA will be setting up an England and Wales Coast Path which will have 20 sections with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond certificates. It will be introduced in the next 2 or 3 years, but you can walk all the open sections now.

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