The creme de la creme of long-distance routes are the National Trails. These are the most famous names, the ones that are funded by central government. Think of them as the motorways of the hiking world. In fact, some are so popular that sections of the busiest routes are almost as wide as a motorway due to the impact of all those hiking boots.
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You should note that some trails are more challenging than others and are scored accordingly, allowing you to be properly prepared should you find yourself in conversation with a National Trail techie. For the purposes of our National Trail Scale, assume that 10 is a route likely to be any hardened hiker’s Achilles heel, while a zero is something they’re more likely to consider attempting in flip-flops.
SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
The South West Coast Path stretches 1,015km (630 miles) from Minehead in Somerset, around Land’s End and finishes at Poole Harbour in Dorset. It used to be just over 805km (500 miles) in length, but that aforementioned coastal erosion means that the path keeps getting diverted, which is why it has grown.
Tackle this, and not only will you have walked 1,015km, but you will have ascended umpteen cliffs. The total height climbed is over 35,000m (114,830ft). Everest is 8,848m (29,029ft) high, so it might be easier to think of the South West Coast Path as the equivalent of climbing just under four Everests. Most hikers love this sort of analogy.
Rating A 10 on our National Trail Scale, but probably a 15 in reality.
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