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Whether you’re into long distance hiking trails or just a nice ramble involving a trip to a country pub, walking is a great way to get out and explore when on a campervan adventure. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next expedition why not try one of the National Trails featured in our Motorhome Protect guide? There are plenty to choose from throughout the country.

Whichever one you choose, there’s no better time to get planning than the present. With your campervan insurance sorted through Motorhome Protect and the freedom of the open road ahead, you’re bound to have a trip to remember.

All about National Trails

First established back in 1965, National Trails are long-distance paths you can follow through some of the most scenic and historic landscapes to be found in England and Wales.

While there are many thousands of walking routes in the country, National Trails are special as they’re chosen by the government and all follow a strict set of standards. Every trail is managed by dedicated trail officers and a hard-working team of volunteers.

You’ll always know you’re on a National Trail by their high quality and they fact they are all well waymarked by those distinctive acorn symbols – always a welcome sight when you feel like you’re lost!

In total there are 16 National Trails to enjoy with a combined length of over 2,500 miles. They offer a rich variety of experiences suitable for many different walking needs. From the wonderfully flat and meandering Thames Path to the wild and rugged scramble along the South West Coast Path.

While some sections of the National Trails are suitable for bike riders and horse riders, always check beforehand. But whether you’re using your campervan for a walking, mountain biking or horse riding adventure, it’s always a good idea to get campervan insurance in place before you set off.

National Trail

The Motorhome Protect guide to National Trails

If you’ve come looking for information on National Trails then you’ve come to the right place. In this quick guide, we discuss each of the National Trails in turn. We’ll tell you the distance, how long they generally take to walk in their entirety, the level of difficulty involved, the beginning and end points and a route summary. Obviously, having a campervan at your beck and call gives you a huge amount of flexibility as to how you want to tackle these trails. 

You’ll probably want to come up with your own unique way of exploring what these trails have to offer. That’s why so many campervan and motorhome owners look to Motorhome Protect for their insurance cover needs.

The Cleveland Way

Distance: 109 miles (175.5km)

Duration: 9 days

Standard: Medium

Start: Helmsley

Finish: Filey

Route summary: The second-oldest National Trail skirts the western, northern and eastern edges of the stunning North York Moors. Dominated by heather moorland and coastal scenery the area is rich in history and natural features with plentiful panoramas along the way.

It’s generally completed in a clockwise direction starting in the wealthy market town of Helmsley. Doing so puts the wind predominately behind you and makes the signposting clearer. As well as the sometimes-foul weather conditions some of the moorland sections involve significant ascents and descents. Indeed, the route's total ascent is 5,562m, that’s equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis four times!

The Cotswold Way

Distance: 103 miles (165.5km)

Duration: 7 days

Standard: Easy to medium

Start: Bath

Finish: Chipping Campden

Route summary: Linking two of the most popular tourist towns in England, this National Trail runs along the western edge of the world-famous Cotswolds. While it’s a fairly comfortable walk through classic English countryside, the days can get long if you haven’t packed light.

Prehistoric hill forts and burial mounds, Saxon and Civil War battlefields, gorgeous stately homes and much else besides will give you plenty to consider as you eat up the miles. However, perhaps the route's greatest asset is the wonderful range of great pubs to be found in these parts, meaning a hearty meal and a refreshing pint are never far away.

We recommend completing the route from south to north, which generally gives you the wind and sun at your back and a highly satisfying finish in Chipping Campden.

Glyndŵr’s Way

Distance: 132 miles (212.5km)

Duration: 9 days

Standard: Medium

Start: Knighton

Finish: Welshpool

Route summary: Named after Owain Glyndŵr, the Welsh warrior who led an ill-fated rebellion against the English in the early 15th Century, the path passes through many historic sites. The National Trail is sandwiched between the fabulous walking regions of Snowdonia to the north and the Brecon beacons to the south.

Predominately low moor and farmland, with lakes, woodland, rolling hills and pretty valleys, you’re in for a treat indeed. A particular highlight for us is the range of birdlife on offer here, including buzzards, kingfishers, woodpeckers, red kites and peregrine falcons.

If you’re taking expensive bird watching equipment on your trip, make sure your campervan insurance covers this.

Hadrian’s Wall Path

Distance: 85 miles (137km)

Duration: 8 days

Standard: Easy to medium

Start: Wallsend

Finish: Bowness-on-Solway

Route summary: Considered by many to be one of the ‘easiest’ of the National Trails, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is a coast to coast walk across northern England. As you’d expect, it follows the line of the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site and takes you past some of the most beautiful sights in England.

By marching in the footsteps of bygone Roman soldiers you’ll really get to enjoy the Wall and its unique atmosphere. It will certainly give you a little insight into how it must have felt all those millenia ago. Imagine being a centurion staring across that austere landscape at the northernmost edge of the Roman empire. Shiver-inducing indeed.

Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way

Distance: 130 miles (208km)

Duration: 8 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Knettishall Heath

Finish: Hopton-on-Sea

Route summary: This National Trail is a great way to enjoy the wonderful contrast between rolling green countryside and some of the most unspoilt coastline in Britain. In summer it can get very busy around the towns, but walkers and their campervans can easily avoid the crowds and enjoy spectacular vistas almost undisturbed. If you’re restricted for time the Norfolk Coast Path is the more interesting part of the trail.

With plenty of maritime history to discover, sand dunes, salt marshes, and one of the richest areas for birdwatching in Britain there’s plenty to discover. And even if you’re not a keen ‘twitcher’, it’s still well worth packing a pair of binoculars and a decent camera. Just be sure to arrange campervan insurance to cover such expensive items of hardware.

North Downs Way

Distance: 153 miles (246km)

Duration: 12 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Farnham

Finish: Dover

Route summary: This National Trail follows the natural line of hills and chalk ridges running through the south east of England from Farnham near London to Dover on the English Channel coast. It passes through two Areas of Outstanding Natural beauty with perfect panoramic views, leafy woodland, grassy downland, vineyards and nature reserves. And don’t forget that wonderful grand finale along the White Cliffs of Dover.

Whenever we find ourselves near the port of Dover and within sight of France, we begin dreaming about a trip over to Europe. If you decide to do this, then ensure your campervan insurance covers you for foreign travel. You don’t want to have problems far from home.

Offa’s Dyke Path

Distance: 177.5 miles (285.5km)

Duration: 12 days

Standard: Hard

Start: Sedbury Cliffs, near Chepstow

Finish: Prestatyn Beach

Route summary: Believed to have been built in the 8th Century by the Mercian king, Offa, to separate Wales from his own kingdom. This was clearly once an extraordinary fortification to rival even Hadrian’s Wall. There’s an astonishing range of scenery to take in here. While the region’s rich and turbulent history is well demonstrated in the many ruined castles, abbeys, ancient hill forts and other remains dotted around the area.

If you’re thinking of completing this National Trail then be warned it’s really only suitable for fit, experienced walkers competent with a map and compass. Oh, and there’s more than 700 stiles for you to clamber over, too!

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Distance: 186 miles (299.5km)

Duration: 15 days

Standard: Medium to hard

Start: Amroth

Finish: St Dogmaels

Route summary: We just love Pembrokeshire and this National Trail is quite simply one of the most beautiful routes you’ll encounter anywhere in Britain. Here you’ll find rugged coastline, tiny fishing villages, secluded coves and plenty of lonely areas to enjoy the stunning views.

Attractions along the way include the fine cathedral ‘city’ of St Davids, the charming seaside town of Tenby, iron age forts, and some truly superb beaches and nature reserves. Be warned there’s some strenuous walking to be had here as the path has plenty of steep ascents and descents as it crosses river valleys.

Pennine Way

Distance: 259 miles (416.5km)

Duration: 16 days

Standard: Medium to hard

Start: Edale

Finish: Kirk Yetholm

Route summary: The oldest National Trail, the Pennine Way is long, hard, but oh-so-rewarding. Stretching along the central mountain spine of Northern England all the way from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park and on to the Scottish Borders. It’s undoubtedly one of the classic British walks that any keen hiker would love to have a go at.

Be warned Pennine Way weather conditions can be changeable to say the least. With mist common, high rainfall, and strong winds there’s plenty to challenge an intrepid campervan owner. Making sure your home on wheels is well maintained and covered by campervan insurance is a must at any time of year.

Pennine Way

Pennine Bridleway

Distance: 205 miles (330km)

Duration: 5 days (by bike)

Standard: Medium to hard

Start: Middleton-by-Wirksworth

Finish: Ravenstonedale

Route summary: The Pennine Bridleway is not the same as the Pennine Way; it follows a different route and has been designed especially for use by horse riders and cyclists. Although it’s also great for walkers.

It’s worth saying here that this is by no means a route for beginners. The climbs can get very tough and the terrain is anything but easy going in places.

The Ridgeway

Distance: 87 miles (139km)

Duration: 7 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Overton Hill near Avebury

Finish: Ivinghoe Beacon

Route summary: Dubbed ‘Britain’s oldest road’ this ancient route has been used by this island’s inhabitants for at least 5,000 years. The modern National Trail route can be divided into two quite distinct sections. The first crosses the North Wessex Downs and is characterised by wide, open spaces, archaeological monuments, and rolling chalk downland. While the eastern section travels through the more densely populated and wooded Chilterns.

South Downs Way

Distance: 100 miles (160km)

Duration: 9 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Winchester

Finish: Eastbourne

Route summary: This enjoyable but undulating route wends its way through picture-postcard villages, over hills, and past barrows, forts and ramparts of the distant past.

South West Coast Path

Distance: 630 miles (1014km)

Duration: 52 days

Standard: Hard

Start: Minehead

Finish: Poole

Route summary: Until the completion of the mammoth English Coast Path, this National Trail is the longest in the country. If you do the whole thing then you will have walked hundreds of miles of stunning coastline through the counties of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

This whole area is beloved by campervan owners, and it’s easy to see why. Be warned, with so many steep descents and ascents if you walk the whole route then you will have climbed a total of 27,300m – three times the height of Everest!

Travelling around some of Britain’s quaintest coastal villages and narrowest roads in your campervan can bring the risk of the odd bump and scrape. If you have campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect then you can be certain that any problems won’t derail your adventure.

Thames Path

Distance: 184 miles (294km)

Duration: 12 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Kemble

Finish: Thames Barrier just after Greenwich

Route summary: Follow the route of our most famous river from its source in the Cotswolds all the way east into the heart of the UK’s bustling capital. It’s a long trail but almost completely flat, so you should have plenty of opportunity to look around at the rural western sections and the famous, historical sites in the eastern section.

Yorkshire Wolds Way

Distance: 79 miles (127km)

Duration: 5 days

Standard: Easy

Start: Kingston-upon-Hull

Finish: Filey Brigg

Route summary: Billed as ‘Yorkshire’s best kept secret’, this is an excellent walk for those just getting into long-distance walking. It’s one of the least used National Trails and is characterised by riverside paths, wooded slopes, rolling hills and farmland. 

A note about the England Coast Path

At a distance of 2,800 miles (4500km) the sixteenth National Trail will extend all the way around the English coast. While it’s not yet completed, many parts of it are already open to the public, such as this new trail linking the Kent coast and London

3 great spots to park your campervan to enjoy the National Trails

All of the National Trails can easily be enjoyed as smaller sections or as circular routes taking in parts of the main trail. We’ve chosen three great spots to explore from the comfort of your campervan.

  1. A great section of the North Downs Way within easy reach of London begins at the attractive old market town of Farnham. A pleasant two day walk from here will bring you to Dorking, although might take a bit longer if you include wine-tasting at some of the area’s fine vineyards. The small, family-run Mellow Farm on the beautiful Hampshire-Surrey border makes a great base. Be aware the site doesn’t allow motorhomes, so it might be best to check ahead if you have a larger campervan.
  2. If you want to take in some of the best-preserved, most accessible and most interesting parts of Hadrian’s Wall then we recommend a three day walk from Sewingshields (between Hexham and Haltwhistle) and Lannercost Priory (east of Brampton). As well as the wall you’ll also get to visit some excellent museums and enjoy some of the best scenery the Northumberland national park has to offer. Hadrian’s Wall Campsite is great.
  3. The Pennine Way has many excellent highlight sections perfect if you just want to explore for a day or two. Malham is a major tourist centre from which to explore the Yorkshire Dales with numerous circular walk possibilities. There are lots of great camping options hereabouts but we love the simplicity of Riverside Campsite near Malham village.

If you haven’t done so yet, there are lots of reasons to join a campervan club in the UK. But one of the best is to get access to their extensive network of sites and locations. Many of which are perfect for exploring National Trails. The Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping & Caravanning Club are the two main clubs worth joining. You might even get a discount on your campervan insurance if you do.

10 essential items to pack for a walking holiday

While a walking holiday won’t require huge amounts of additional equipment, it’s still best to be well-prepared. This is a brief list of the 10 essential items you should always carry when setting off on a hike:

  1. Water- and wind-proof-jacket.
  2. Warm layer.
  3. Gloves and a hat.
  4. Sunglasses.
  5. Spare socks.
  6. Snacks and water.
  7. Small first aid kit.
  8. Map and compass.
  9. Fully charged mobile phone.
  10. Small backpack.

Don’t forget to invest in campervan insurance to protect your camper’s contents when you’re away.

Campervan insurance worthy of any adventure

Whatever escapades you’ve got planned, our specialist team here at Motorhome Protect will make sure your vehicle has the right cover should the unexpected happen. Insurance cover arranged by us can come with a range of benefits including:

  • Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign travel
  • Unlimited EU cover
  • Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
  • Value up to £120,000

Get a quick campervan insurance quote from Motorhome Protect today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.