My Adventures in 2021
Long-Distance National Trails
I have a bucket list as long as my arm, but I decided that 2021 would be the year to pick up where I left off with my challenge to walk all 15 long-distance national trails in England and Wales. And since 2020 was pretty much a non-starter for everyone on the planet, I have some catching up to do!
This summer I’m going to continue to explore the south of the UK:
- The South Downs Way, 100 miles. Complete
- The Cotswold Way, 102 miles. Complete
- Offas Dyke Path, 177 miles. Complete
- The Ridgeway, 87 miles (if funds allow!)
My general plan for hiking our long-distance trails is to work my way from south to north and finish them all by the end of 2023 (4-5 a year). But the biggest challenge I’m going to face isn’t the hiking: it’s affording them all. So it felt important to share how I’m paying for them as well – and why it scares the living daylights out of me too! (All my guides to national trails also include full details of my expenses to help you plan your own budget.)
Offa’s Dyke Path, September 2021
177 Miles From Sedbury (Near Chepstow) To Prestatyn
Wow! What. A. Trail. Offa’s Dyke Path along the England-Wales border was one of the best National Trail experiences I’ve had this year for sure. That’s not to compare trails though, because that’s impossible. After all, each trail has its own unique qualities that make it really special. But there were lots of things that came together to make this particular trail such a great experience.
I had fantastic weather when I crossed the Hatterrall Ridge in the Brecon Beacons for example, so I got to experience phenomenal views in the Black Mountains. Then, by the time I crossed the Clywidian Range towards the end of the hike, the weather had changed from glorious bright sunshine and 26-degree heat to thick mist and heavy rain. But I didn’t mind because the atmosphere in the hills became wonderfully eery.
And then of course there was everything in between, from the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to towns like Monmouth and Hay-on-Wye. Not to mention some wild camps with perfect views, some interesting company – and soaking wet feet for days!
Plan Your Own Hike
The Cotswold Way, June 2021
102 Miles From Chipping Campden to Bath
The Cotwolds are famous the world over for beautiful villages built from honey-coloured stone, and the rolling countryside around them. But it was the unexpected views from the escarpment across to the Welsh mountains that really stole my heart.
In fact, this trail delivered far more than I expected and I loved every sun-drenched mile. The big blue skies, buzzing flower meadows, shady woodland, and views for miles made this a hike I won’t forget.
Latest Guides To The Cotswold Way
The South Downs Way, May 2021
100 Miles From Winchester To Eastbourne
My first national trail adventure of 2021 was on the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne in the far south of England. It’s the only UK trail that’s entirely within a national park.
The trail starts at Winchester Cathedral heading out of the ancient city through the countryside until it reaches the exposed, wide-open downland. You cross the tops of the Downs, dipping down into old, pretty villages until the trail reaches the coast. From there you hike along the famous Seven Sisters cliffs and Beachy Head before heading down into the seaside town of Eastbourne.
It was a pretty eventful start to my hiking year with a vomiting bug, exhaustion, 50 mph winds and lashing rain right from the start! Even so,
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, because overcoming challenges is what hiking’s all about!