Six of the UK's most spectacular coast to coast walking routes - from the Great Glen Way to the Cambrian Way
The Camino de Santiago, Inca Trail and Tour du Mont Blanc are all effectively off-limits this year to UK-based hikers, meaning that imagination will be key this summer when it comes to planning multi-day hikes.
As an island nation, we are naturally blessed with a number of gorgeous coast-to-coast walks linking east to west, and north to south.
The cross-country and long-distance nature of these hikes means that they are invariably varied, linking beaches, with rugged hills, steep-sided glens and expansive moorland.
We’ve compiled six of the most spectacular coast to coast walks in the UK for the intrepid trekker to tackle this summer.
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast
Devised by legendary hiker Alfred Wainwright in the 1970s, the Coast to Coast route connects to the Irish and North seas.
Though Wainwright encouraged hikers to devise their own routes, his original path has become a well-trodden one, linking beautiful St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire, via towering Helvellyn in the Lake District, and Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Tradition states that ramblers start their walk by dipping their boots in the Irish Sea and conclude by soaking themselves in the North Sea.
Start and finish point: St Bee’s to Robin Hood’s Bay Route description: ldwa.org.uk Distance: 181 miles
The Great Glen Way
The Great Glen divides Scotland from coast to coast linking Loch Linnhe to the west to the Moray Firth in the east, thus making it a natural favourite with long distance hikers.
The glen, a fault line, offers dramatic views of some of Scotland’s most revered bodies of water including Loch Ness, Loch Lochy and Loch Oich.
Roughly a six day trek the Great Glen Way is easy going for the most part, making it a great entry-level walk for new thru-hikers. Those not satisfied with a 73 mile hike may be interested in linking the Great Glen Way up with the West Highland Way, which share Fort William as an end and start point.
Start and finish point: Fort William to Inverness Route description: walkhighlands.co.uk Distance: 73 miles
A truly colossal hike, the Cambrian Way stitches a hike through the heart of Wales from its north coast to its south.
Starting at Cardiff Castle and concluding at Conwy Castle, the near-300 mile walk traipses over Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, meandering northwards to the Snowdon massif and the Carneddau.
Consisting of 21,402 m of ascent this is not a walk for the faint of heart or weak of knee – keen Welsh hikers and travellers from outside the principality may be better served tackling portions of the hike, chipping away at the mammoth route over several years.
Start and finish point: Cardiff to Conwy Route description: cambrianway.org.uk Distance: 298 miles
The Scottish Coast to Coast walk
Linking two of Scotland’s most famous seaside towns – Oban and St Andrews – the Scottish Coast to Coast slice through Argyll, skims the southern Highlands and splits Fife.
Devoid of waymarked paths, there’s a real sense of following the less-beaten track with this coast-to-coast route, which may appeal to those looking to avoid the crowds which punctuate more popular multi-day hikes, such as the West Highland Way.
Perhaps the highlight of the cross-country route is the climb from Glen Orchy to Balquhidder Glen.
It’s advised that you follow the route from west to east in order to take advantage of prevailing weather.
Start and finish point: Oban to St Andrews Route description: ldwa.org.uk Distance: 133 miles
The Hebridean Way
You’re never more than a few miles from gorgeous coastline with this breathtaking route in the Outer Hebrides.
Starting at Vatersay to the south of a scattered island chain and finishing at the Butt of Lewis to the north, this route will see you set foot on ten islands, six causeways and two ferries.
Magnificent white sand beaches, miles of gorgeous Atlantic coastline and countless hostelries boasting Scottish hospitality make this a bucket list worthy adventure.
Start and finish point: Vatersay to Butt of Lewis Route description: visitouterhebrides.co.uk Distance: 156 miles
Devon Coast to Coast
Also known as the Two Moors Way, this 102 miles route carves two of England’s most stunning national parks in two.
Snaking through wild moorland and remote countryside, the route starts in Wembury to the south, through Dartmoor, Mid Devon and Exmoore before concluding at Ivybridge on the Bristol Channel.
The walk is suitable for both long distance and day walkers with the latter able to break the route up into four, five or more manageable segments.
Start and finish point: Wembury to Ivybridge Route description: twomoorsway.org Distance: 99 miles