Friday, 4 January 2019

My favourite trails

I am often asked: "what is your favourite trail?"

It's an interesting question, not the least because it is a very subjective one: I like moorland and love squelching through boggy ground, whilst the undoubted wonders of the Lake District leaves me a little cold. I'm often as happy strolling around a city as I am wandering though a remote area. Other people would doubtless differ. The time of year that a trail is walked, or the weather on an individual day, can also make a large difference.

I have only done a few trails - I have  not even completed all the National Trails (with the Pennine Bridleway, Southern Upland Way and Yorkshire Wolds Way left to do), and there are thousands of minor trails that are left to be done.

Having said all that, what are my favourite, and least favourite, trails?

National Trails:


The Thames Path
Okay, this might seem like an odd one. A trail that goes through the heart of the capital city, following a river and with barely any hills to be climbed, would be few walkers' choice. Yet the Thames Path is glorious. True, there are no hills, but views unveil themselves around every turn. It is also an intensely varied path, with fields near the source, through a series of wonderful riverside towns, to the urban glories of London. It is a trail I would happily do again many times.

An honourable mention goes to the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, which is a little gem.

Least favourite:

The Speyside Way.
This is another slightly odd one. With the exception of a coastal section, it is another river walk, but the contrasts with the Thames Path are extreme. In particular, there is a hateful section with nasty stiles every few metres that proved hideous to negotiate with a large rucksack. The trail also has several branches that make it difficult to walk in one continuous outing.

Other trails:


The Limestone Way.
This was a very difficult choice to make, as there are so many beautiful and interesting trails, not all well-regarded. But as a Derbyshire man born and bred, a trail that cuts to and fro across the White Peak has to be at number one. The Limestone Way is an accessible trail, is easy to split into two two-day walks by stopping at Matlock, and gives you glimpses of some superlative White Peak scenery. And the final stretch to Cave Dale and down into Castleton is a joy.

Least favourite.

Several trails I have completed have left me underwhelmed. But all have had something positive to say for them, and as they are generally shorter it is easier to forgive transgressions.

So I shall take the coward's way out and not nominate an entire trail. Instead I shall mention one short stretch of the Teesdale Way from Middlesborough towards the coast, which is a long and far from glamorous trudge between steelworks and chemical plants.

So what do you think? What trails have you loved, and which have you hated? Are there any trails you have liked the first time, but hated on a second? Or trails which have brilliant and terrible sections?

No comments: