Whilst here in the UK we do have some circular long distance walks, Derbyshire’s 97-mile White Peak Way and the Lake District’s 74-mile Lakeland Round being two impressive examples, most of our well known long distance walking routes are linear. Linear walks (that go from point A to point B) are satisfying because they give a great sense of journey.
But they can also make for tricky vehicle logistics.
If you leave your car at point A, will it be safe? Will the car park fees be expensive? And more importantly, how are you going to get it to point B? To my mind, the answer to all of these questions is obvious.
You find a long distance walk that starts and ends at a train station.
Or if you’re really clever (which you’ll need to be to sort out your accommodation logistics), you’ll choose a long distance walk that not only starts and ends at a train station, but has a few useful ones along your walking route. In other words, you choose to adventure by train.
How to find a long distance walking route
The best place to investigate long distance walking routes is the not-for-profit LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) website. They have a hugely helpful database, which might leave you spoilt for choice. But if you’re looking for long distance station to station walks, you’ll find some great ideas on Railwalks UK.
Plenty to choose from, whatever type of walk you’re looking for.
Choice can sometimes be confusing so we’ve picked out three long distance walking routes that start and end at train stations. We haven’t walked the whole length of any of them (yet!) but you’ll be the first to know when we do.
Long distance walking routes from UK train stations
By definition, all long distance walking routes have some length to them but some are extra-long (and made for walking superheroes). We’ve picked out two but there are other options.
The North West Way
The North West Way explores some of the very best that walking in the north of England has to offer on this challenging route between Preston and Carlisle. Follow the River Ribble, pick up the Pennine Way, tackle Pen-y-Ghent, then leave the Pennine Way to enjoy the South Tyne Trail and the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail. Along the way you’ll have a good selection of train stations to choose from should you fancy sitting down for a short section.
- Where: Preston to Carlisle
- Distance: 308 kilometres (191 miles)
- Ascent: 6,423 metres
- Start train station: Preston
- Finish train station: Carlisle
- Highlights: Malham’s limestone outcrops, High Force waterfall and the glacial valley of High Cup Nick.
- Guide book: The North West Way by Steve Garrill
The Shropshire Way
The Shropshire Way is formed of two loops, both of which start and end near Shrewsbury train station. Choose the south loop and you’ll be able to stop off halfway at food-famous Ludlow. You’ll also enjoy a fair few hills. Opt for the northern loop to visit the England/Wales border and enjoy a section of the Severn Way.
- Where: Shrewsbury (2 loops)
- Distance: South Route – 194 kilometres, North Route – 115 kilometres
- Ascent: South Route – 4,828 metres, North Route – 890 metres
- Start train station: Shrewsbury
- Finish train station: Shrewsbury (or Ludlow for sausages)
- Highlights: The fascinating Stiperstones, the Wrekin (up not around) and the opportunity, at Llanymynech, to stand with one foot in England and the other in Wales.
- Guide book: The Shropshire Way – Cicerone
Long distance walks that follow railway lines
If (like me) you love your train rides as much as your walks, you’ll be pleased to hear that the three UK long distance trails below can be split into any number of station to station walks because they follow working rail routes.
- The Settle to Carlisle Way (walk underneath the Ribblehead Viaduct)
- The Heart of Wales Line Trail (go bog snorkelling in Llanwrtyd Wells)
- The Wales Coast Path (admire the stunning views from Barmouth Bridge)
Here in the UK, there’s no end to the adventures you can have by train and with increasing traffic and high parking fees, not to mention climate change, we can’t see any reason why you would choose not to leave your car behind.