What is classed as long distance walking? Data | Miles | Stats

what is long distance walking

The more we walk regularly, the more our thoughts turn to the possibility of doing some long distance walks. But just what is classed as long distance walking?

Long distance walking can be classed as one of the following two things:

  • A walk of 20 miles or more, or;
  • A walk that lasts multiple days.

What is the appeal of a long distance walk?

A long distance walk is a real chance to escape your everyday life, to immerse yourself into nature, and to get rid of all your stresses and worries.

Being out from dawn to dusk walking allows you the chance to really relax, and allows you to see the beauty of nature all around you. There’s something quite exciting the day before, knowing that you are about to head out for the whole day, and obviously preparation is key. More on that shortly.

Expand that walk over several days and you have a challenge, one that you can plan weeks or months in advance. It may be that you want to visit an area that you have never been to, and rather than do the sightseeing tours, you truly want to immerse yourself into the local life and get a feel of what it’s like to live there.

How fit do I need to be to do a long distance walk?

Obviously, if you are going to go for a walk that lasts a week, you need to have built up your fitness levels. It’s not like going for a 5 mile walk that you probably usually do every weekend. You need to be able to walk 10-20 miles every day, over a prolonged time if it’s more than one day.

But you can’t just decide to do it, you need to prepare your body and your mind as well, as no doubt it will get tough at times. Build up your fitness levels so that you can tackle the distances involved with confidence.

Look to increase a long walk at the weekend gradually. You should be walking several days a week, and as most people will be doing their longer walks at the weekend, look to increase these each week by no more than 10%. So if you usually walk 10 miles on a Saturday or Sunday, increase this by a mile each week.

This gradual increase in length allows your body to adapt without putting it under too much stress. Over this time you will build muscle and improve your blood supply around your body. Increase too quickly and you’ll increase your chances of injury, which will set you further back in your quest and may even stop you completely from meeting your challenge.

You need to be able to complete a 20-25 mile walk in your training, at least twice in the weeks leading up to the walk. And you also need to be able to fit longer walks into consecutive days, so that your body gets used to this before you set off.

Train with the equipment you will use

Don’t forget that you need to train with the equipment that you will be using on your long distance walk. Most people will know that it’s no good buying a new pair of walking boots, they need breaking in, but what about other equipment such as rucksacks or walking poles?

It’s no good preparing your body and mind, testing your boots so that they don’t cause blisters, if you buy a new rucksack and find that it rubs on your shoulders as the straps are not suitable. Or that you buy new walking poles that you’ve never used before, only to find that the handles are uncomfortable. And you also need to factor in that if you do need to replace gear, that these are tested too!

Long distance walk planning

Ok, so you are getting your fitness levels up in the months ahead, but what else needs planning, I hear you ask? Put quite simply – lots!

Where shall I walk?

There are numerous places you can plan your long distance walk, both here in the United Kingdom, or if you fancy exploring other countries and continents, then that is certainly possible, although there are many other factors to consider.

You’ll see towards the bottom of this article I have listed out walks for you in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, sorted alphabetically in each country. Whilst not an extensive list, I’m sure there’s plenty of choice for you.

I believe that we are so lucky to live here, and there’s so much wonderful scenery, that exploring different parts of the United Kingdom would be enough for most walkers.

Planning the route

Of course, you don’t have to stick to one of the routes listed below, you may want too make up one of your own. Whilst there’s an advantage in taking on a pre-defined route in that it will be signposted well, if you are good with a map and compass then why not plot out your own route and schedule.

Even if you are using one of the pre-defined routes below, you may not want to stick to the suggested schedules. It may be that you are combining your walk with a trip to see friends and family, perhaps for a wedding or other celebration; maybe a visit to a particular landmark or place of interest, such as The Eden Project in Cornwall or The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies. It’s always good to put in a rest day or two from your walk – especially if boosting yourself with friendship or knowledge.

Planning your accommodation

Where are you going to put your head down at the end of the day? Will you be camping? If so, you’ll need to carry your tent and equipment, which adds a lot of weight to your rucksacks.

Or maybe you’ll be staying in hostels – if so, these will need to be booked well in advance, and obviously will dictate your schedule too. The same goes for b&b’s or hotels. So a good plan and schedule is definitely required.

It is possible to hand over this task to specialist companies, and that may well be a good option if this is your first long distance walk. They will also know the best places to book for walkers, and can also arrange for transfer of your equipment from place to place, thus limiting the amount that you need to carry on your back.

Who are you going to walk with?

You may be alone, and there’s nothing wrong with that, you know your own limits and capabilities. But you may want to walk with others, so will you be walking as a couple, with friends, or maybe join a walking group through a specialised company?

Whilst myself and Nicky are quite happy to walk together, the pressure it may put on some couples having no-one else may be testing. Perhaps you have long-standing friends that you enjoy a walk with? But a long distance walk over a number of days is somewhat different than a weekly dog walk at the weekend. You may want to walk in an organised group with people that share that same love of walking; but of course that would seem awful to some people.

we are all different but this does need serious consideration before you get too far into your plans.

Food and drink

You need to seriously consider the amount of food and drink that you will need whilst walking each day. You need to keep nourished and hydrated whilst you walk, but how much do you take with you each day?

Are you going to rely on finding cafes and pubs en route? If so, you’ll need to ensure you carry enough money with you, or at least know where you can get to a cashpoint machine, although most places will take cards nowadays.

If you are going to pick up provisions en route, you’ll need to know what is available in the ways of shops at the start or end of the walking day, although you may come across farm shops selling goods en route.

Make sure you take every opportunity to top up water bottles so that you have enough water to drink every day.

water bottle


Depending when you walk will also be a factor to what you need to take with you. If you are walking in winter, then you will need to factor in layers, whereas if you are walking in summer you will hopefully be ok wearing shorts for large parts of the days.

But of course, being in our beautiful land, the weather is quite changeable, so it would be good to do some research with locals to ensure that you know what to expect. It may be a really dry spell here in Kent, but head further north and they may be having intermittent showers.

First Aid kit

It’s imperative that you have a decent first aid kit that you can carry with you. There’s a very good chance you will get some blisters, although if you are wearing good shoes and socks hopefully these will be kept to a minimum.

But you’ll also need to consider insect bites and stings, sunburn and possibly grazes from falls and stumbles. It will be better to be prepared than have to hobble on to the next town in agony.

Long distance walks in the United Kingdom

As I stated earlier, this is not an extensive list, as you can plan your own routes anywhere you want. But the tables below will give you lots of choices for a pre-defined route. These will be sign-posted well, which if you are like us and get lost often, is always a good help! I hope you enjoy the lists!

Long Distance Walks in England

Chiltern WayBoxmoorBoxmoor134Medium8-119,840 ft
Cleveland WayHelmsleyScarborough105Medium6-810,870 ft
Coast to Coast walkSt BeesScarborough182Medium12-1721,976 ft
Cotswold WayChipping CamdenKingsmead100Medium6-911,155 ft
Cumbria WayUlverstonCaldewgate74Medium5-77,648 ft
Dales High WaySaltaireAppleby-in-Westmorland90Medium5-712,222 ft
Dales WayIlkleyWindermere80Easy5-75,217 ft
Dartmoor WayBuckfastleighBuckfastleigh84Medium5-78,501 ft
Grand Union Canal WalkLondonLadywood139Easy8-112,759 ft
Hadrian’s Wall PathBentonBowness86Easy4-64,003 ft
Herefordshire TrailLedburyLedbury156Medium9-131,326 ft
Herriot WayAysgarthAysgarth50Medium3-46,145 ft
Hertfordshire WayRoystonRoyston160Easy9-137,389 ft
Icknield WayChinnorKnettishall136Easy8-116,637 ft
Jurassic WayBanburyStamford CP89Easy5-74,354 ft
London LoopErithWest Thurrock152Easy8-126,880 ft
Mendip WayWeston-super-MareGreat Elm49Medium4-56,693 ft
Midshires WayChinnorStockport225Easy12-1711,283 ft
North Downs WayFarnhamDover127Medium8-119,886 ft
North East Coast pathScarboroughAmble156Easy9-137,576 ft
North West Coast PathAllonbyWhitehaven22Easy1-2663 ft
Northumberland Coast PathCresswellKyloe63Easy3-43,314 ft
Offa’s Dyke PathTidenhamPrestatyn179Medium11-1523,318 ft
Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast PathKnettishallGreat Yarmouth134Easy6-92,638 ft
Pennine BridlewayMiddleton CPRavenstonedale169Medium8-1117,901 ft
Pennine WayEdaleBraehouse261Medium15-2229,037 ft
Pennine Way – 2-3 dayEdaleOldham29Medium2-34,377 ft
Ribble WayLongtonIngleton71Easy4-64,403 ft
Saxon Shore WayMiltonHastings164Easy9-137,126 ft
Severn WayWalesOld City226Easy13-186,083 ft
Shakespeare’s WayStratford-upon-AvonSouthwark131Easy7-105,506 ft
South Downs WayBar EndEastbourne100Medium6-89,105 ft
South Downs Way – 4 dayWashingtonEastbourne46Medium3-44,479 ft
South East Coast Path NorthHopton-on-SeaWeybourne47Easy3-41,096 ft
South East Coast Path SouthCamberRamsgate62Easy4-52,277 ft
South West (North) Coast PathBreanMinehead58Easy4-51,329 ft
South West Coast PathMineheadStudland640Medium41-5883,013 ft
South West Coast Path – 2-3 daysExmouthLyme Regis31Medium2-34,456 ft
South West Coast Path – 3-5 DayMineheadCombe Martin37Difficult3-58,504 ft
South West Coast Path – 4-5 daysClovellyTintagel47Difficult4-59,105 ft
St Cuthberts WayMelroseHoly Island64Medium4-66,001 ft
Teesdale WayDuftonWarrenby96Easy5-73,770 ft
Thames PathCoatesNew Charlton183Easy9-131,723 ft
The Great British WalkDurnessLizard1,076Easy47-67116,532 ft
The Ridgeway National TrailWest OvertonIvinghoe87Easy5-75,289 ft
Trans Pennine TrailHornseaBirkdale214Easy12-174,584 ft
Two Moors WayWemburyLynton and Lynmouth108Medium6-811,175 ft
Viking WayBarton-upon-HumberOakham151Easy8-114,954 ft
Wessex RidgewayMarlboroughLyme Regis137Medium8-1212,753 ft
Yorkshire Wolds WayHessleScarborough78Medium4-65,830 ft
Long distance walks in England – Walking Academy

Long Distance Walks in Scotland

Arran Coastal WayBrodickBrodick65Easy4-63,461 ft
Ayrshire Coastal PathSmyrtonSkelmorlie93Easy6-83,603 ft
Borders Abbeys WayMelroseMelrose67Easy4-54,636 ft
Cape Wrath Way EastFort WilliamScotland231Medium15-2129,335 ft
Cape Wrath Way WestUpper AchintoreScotland234Medium15-2233,279 ft
Cateran TrailBlairgowrieBlairgowrie66Medium4-67,008 ft
East Highland WayFort WilliamAviemore82Medium5-76,178 ft
Fife Coastal PathKincardineNewburgh118Easy7-105,040 ft
Formatine and Buchan WayDyceFraserburgh42Easy2-31,079 ft
Forth and Clyde – Union Canal TowpathAuchentorlie HouseTollcross63Easy4-51,824 ft
Great Glen WayFort WilliamHaugh74Medium5-75,998 ft
John Muir WayHelensburghDunbar133Easy7-106,050 ft
John o’ Groats WayHaughJohn o’ Groats147Easy8-129,617 ft
Kintyre WayTarbertMachrihanish100Medium6-910,178 ft
Loch Lomond and Cowal WayPortavadieCoiregrogain57Medium4-67,294 ft
Pennine WayEdaleBraehouse261Medium15-2229,037 ft
Rob Roy WayDrumbegPitlochry80Medium5-78,350 ft
Skye TrailShulistaBroadford80Medium5-79,423 ft
Southern Upland WayPortpatrickWoodend215Medium13-1824,621 ft
Speyside WayBuckieKincraig73Easy4-64,498 ft
St Cuthberts WayMelroseHoly Island64Medium4-66,001 ft
The Great British WalkDurnessLizard1,076Easy47-67116,532 ft
West Highland WayMilngavieFort William94Medium6-810,043 ft
Long distance walks in Scotland – Walking Academy

Long Distance Walks in Wales

Beacons WayAbergavennyLlangadog101Difficult7-1018,613 ft
Cambrian WayCastleConwy298Difficult19-2755,262 ft
Glyndwrs WayKnightonWelshpool137Medium8-1219,184 ft
Offa’s Dyke PathTidenhamPrestatyn179Medium11-1523,318 ft
Pembrokeshire Coast PathBrynhenllanAmroth156Medium10-1411,592 ft
Severn WayWalesOld City226Easy13-186,083 ft
Snowdonia WayForgeBethesda96Medium4-616,290 ft
Snowdonia Way – Mountain RouteMachynllethBethesda121Difficult6-932,794 ft
Wales Coast PathSaltneyChepstow873Easy52-7453,234 ft
Wales Coast Path – 3-4 daysConwyCaernarfon29Easy2-41,204 ft
Long distance walks in Wales – Walking Academy

Long Distance Walks in Ireland

Avondhu WayClonmelDromore63Medium4-56,293 ft
Barrow WayRobertstown EDGlebe72Easy4-6676 ft
Beara Breifne WayKillaconenaghTuam ED428Easy24-3428,407 ft
Beara WayKilcaskanKilcaskan130Medium8-1218,055 ft
Bluestack WayDonegal EDArdara ED36Medium2-32,753 ft
Bull Island and Howth Cliff WalkClontarf East B EDHowth ED16Medium1-21,135 ft
Burren WayEnnistimonCorrofin47Medium3-44,000 ft
Cavan WayYugan EDBelcoo East14Medium1-21,071 ft
Croagh Patrick Heritage TrailCastlebarCroaghpatrick41Medium1-23,035 ft
Dingle WayTraleeTralee114Medium6-88,176 ft
Dublin Mountains WayShankill-Shanganagh EDTallaght-Oldbawn ED26Medium1-22,832 ft
Dulhallow WayDromoreDoocarrig42Medium2-34,255 ft
East Clare WayKillaloeKillaloe98Medium6-99,515 ft
East Munster WayCarrick-on-SuirClogheen47Medium3-44,715 ft
Grand Canal WayGollierstown BridgeShannonharbour ED72Easy4-6643 ft
Kerry CaminoTraleeDingle Urban ED35Medium2-32,756 ft
Kerry WayKillarneyKillarney116Medium7-1013,797 ft
Lough Derg WayCustom HouseMonsea41Easy2-32,392 ft
Mid-Clare WayShannonShannon95Easy5-73,911 ft
Miner’s Way and Historic TrailDrumshanbo EDDowra ED73Medium4-65,998 ft
North Kerry WayTraleeBallyheige30Easy1-21,475 ft
Royal Canal WayBallyboughGlebe91Easy4-6817 ft
Seven Heads PeninsulaCourtmacsherryCourtmacsherry29Medium1-22,136 ft
Sheep’s Head WayBantry UrbanBantry Urban56Medium3-46,073 ft
Slieve Bloom WayCapard EDCapard ED54Medium4-55,883 ft
Sligo WayKilmacteige EDDrumahaire ED49Easy2-32,820 ft
South Leinster WayLackabegCarrick-on-Suir65Medium4-55,499 ft
Stradbally Mountain LoopStradballyStradbally16Medium1-22,638 ft
Suck Valley WayKilleroranKilleroran65Easy3-41,421 ft
The Ireland WayKillaconenaghBallycastle629Easy36-5242,919 ft
Tipperary Heritage WayClonmelCashel Urban36Easy1-21,417 ft
Tochar PhadraigCastlebarCroaghpatrick20Medium1-21,875 ft
Western WayFough WestBallycastle ED112Easy6-86,989 ft
Wicklow WayBallinteer-Marley EDClonegal80Medium6-811,712 ft
Wicklow Way – 4 dayBallinteer-Marley EDKnockrath39Medium3-46,618 ft
Long Distance Walks in Ireland – Walking Academy

Conclusion : What is classed as long distance walking?

Just a reminder, a long distance walk can be an all day event or a walk over several days, or if you tackle one of the major walks above, many days. Make sure you are fit enough to tackle the walk of your choice, and make sure that you have planned every aspect before you set off. Things will always crop up to throw you off slightly, but the more you have planned the less that this will upset your rhythm.

What next?

Check out this postOpens in a new tab. on keeping your motivation going whilst on long distance walks.

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