News, views and guidebooks for walking, trekking and cycling

We at Cicerone Press are pretty keen trekkers, as you’d expect from a walking and trekking guidebook publisher. One thing we are asked all the time is for advice on treks.  From the relaxed and easy to the more advanced and technical, there is a trek for you and we encourage you to try one!

Top ten easy first treks

Here is a selection of easy first treks – they are not remote or too difficult to navigate, can all be completed in under two weeks, and, most of all, take you on a journey through some delightful scenery.

The Great Stones Way

top ten first time treks - cicerone

Great Stones Way

Vital Stats:
Days: 3
Kilometres: 70 (36 miles)
Region: Southern England
Guidebook: The Great Stones Way

The Great Stones Way long-distance route opened in 2014, and runs from Barbury Castle, near Swindon, to Old Sarum, near Salisbury. However the route can be made longer, depending on the options taken. The guidebook includes an optional start at Coate Water, while variant loops visit Avebury, the Alton Barnes White Horse and Stonehenge. There’s also an optional finish to take in Salisbury’s magnificent medieval cathedral.

The Great Stones Way passes over comparatively gentle terrain, each stage having less than 250m of ascent. Described in 6 stages, it’s perfect for an energetic long weekend or take up to a week to enjoy the prehistoric landscape, Neolithic henges and stone circles, Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hillforts.

Must See
Great views including the Vale of Pewsey and Salisbury Plain; the tranquil River Avon; picturesque villages; prehistoric sites at Avebury and Stonehenge; Salisbury cathedral.

The Isle of Man Coastal Path

top ten first time treks - cicerone

Isle of Man Coastal Path

Vital Stats:
Days: 5
Kilometres: 154 (98 miles)
Region: Isle of Man
Guidebook: Isle of Man Coastal Path

The Raad ny Foillan (Way of the Gull) is a coastal footpath around the Isle of Man. There is splendid scenery to be encountered throughout the walk, from rugged sea cliffs and mountain moorland in the south, to the glens, beaches and dunes of the north. It passes sites of historical interest, colourful fishing villages, historic towns and peaceful havens.

In its journey around the Isle of Man, the Raad ny Foillan offers a variety of scenery, it wends its way through several nature reserves and along a disused railway. The footpath is never far from the sea or the cry of the gull. It is suitable to do in short day-walk sections which together complete a delightful circuit of this beautiful island. The longest stage of the route is 15.5 miles and the shortest is 7 miles. Faster walkers may wish to complete two stages per day, while those progressing at a more leisurely pace may decide to amble along and take in the splendid attractions along the way.

Must See
Point of Ayre, historic Laxey, the cliffs and secluded bays and inlets of the south and west and the remote west coast. Sea life and birds.

The Lea Valley Walk

top ten first time treks - cicerone

Lea Valley Walk

Vital Stats:
Days: 3-6
Kilometres: 85 (53 miles)
Region: Southern England
Guidebook: The Lea Valley Walk

The Lea Valley Walk is a long-distance path from Luton to the Thames. It follows the River Lea from its source near Leagrave to East India Dock opposite Greenwich, with an alternative finish at Limehouse and an optional tour of the Olympic Park. On the way it passes through a blend of quiet countryside, nature reserves and urban landscapes.

The Lea Valley Walk offers level, waymarked walking for all abilities. The complete trek is presented in nine stages with suggestions for three, four, five and six day itineraries. For those looking for an easy-to-access traffic-free day or half-day walk, the route is divided into sections with convenient railway stations close to each end.

This fine and varied walk traces the river as it passes through Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire towards the bustle of London. It takes in historical towns and villages, stately homes and castles, including Waltham Abbey and Hertford Castle, Luton Hoo, Brocket Park and Hatfield.

Must See
Surprisingly wild Bedfordshire, Waltham Abbey, the industrial landscape through east London, the Thames itself.

The Great Glen Way

top ten first time treks - cicerone

Great Glen Way

Vital Stats:
Days: 5
Kilometres: 117 (73 miles)
Region: Scotland
Guidebook: The Great Glen Way

The Great Glen is one of the most remarkable features in the Scottish landscape – a ruler-straight valley along an ancient fault line through the Highlands. The glen is threaded by the scenic Caledonian Canal, which links Loch Lochy and Loch Oich with the famous Loch Ness.

The route is an ideal introduction to long-distance walking, with a range of facilities along the way. As a low-lying trail, most walkers could complete it at most times of the year, and there is always ready access to accommodations, food, drinks and transport services. The Great Glen Way can easily be walked within a week, and most walkers will aim to complete the route in five or six days. The first thing to decide is whether to walk from Fort William to Inverness, south to north, or Inverness to Fort William, north to south.

Must See
Views of the highlands, clan history, Caledonian canal, wildlife (including, possibly, Loch Ness monster)

The Speyside Way

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Speyside Way

Vital Stats:
Days: 6
Kilometres: 106 (66 miles)
Region: Scotland
Guidebook: The Speyside Way

The River Spey, famed both for its salmon and for its distilleries, flows almost a hundred miles, from the Monadhliath Mountains, past the Cairngorms to the Moray Firth. The Speyside Way official long-distance trail offers easy walking on good paths and along disused railway lines. It runs from Aviemore to the old port of Buckie on the Moray coast and, together with a 20-mile extension back to Newtonmore, it makes a perfect easy week’s walk.

Must See
The wilderness trails to the source of the Spey; numerous whisky distilleries, heritage railways, broad strath of Speyside, scenic coastal fishing settlements and abundant wildlife.

The Dales Way

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Dales Way

Vital Stats:
Days: 6
Kilometres: 125 (78 miles)
Region: Northern England
Guidebook: The Dales Way

The Dales Way is a delightful multi-day walk through the Yorkshire Dales and the eastern fringe of the Lake District between Ilkley and Bowness on Windermere. One of the gentlest multi-day walks in Britain, the Dales Way route is suitable for all ages and an excellent introduction to long-distance walking.

The route makes the most of delectable Wharfedale, travelling virtually to the source of the great river before crossing into the equally delightful Dentdale. This too is followed as it fashions a lovely course through the village of Dent and on to Sedbergh, where it joins the Rawthey. From here, the Way strikes westward into the fringe of Lakeland.

The great attraction of the Way is that it is rarely far from features of architectural, social, ecological or historic interest, with churches, ancient bridges, manor houses, shooting lodges, Roman roads, stone circles, packhorse routes, viaducts and nature trails – the Dales Way has them all.

Must See
Historic buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Landscape, flowers and wildlife. Bolton Abbey, Dent, Dales villages.

The Suffolk Coast Path

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Suffolk Coast Path

Vital Stats:
Days: 6
Kilometres: 95 (58 miles)
Region: Southern England
Guidebook: Suffolk Coast and Heaths Walks

The Suffolk Coast Path stretches along the coast between Lowestoft in the north and Landguard Fort, close to Felixstowe, in the south. This is an ideal first multi day walk but could also be combined with other nearby walks to make a longer trek. The Suffolk Coast Path, the Stour and Orwell Walk (69 km/43 miles) and the Sandlings Walk (95km / 59 miles) – explore some of the most appealing landscapes in southern England largely within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.. Easy for those with moderate fitness levels, they can each be walked in a long weekend or all three combined to complete a circuit of the entire Suffolk Heritage Coast, visiting Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Cattawake, Ipswich and Southwold.

Must See
Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB; once-great sea ports; a landscape characterised by estuaries, marshes, dunes, sand and shingle beaches; unique scenery and wildlife

Lleyn Peninsula Coast Path

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Lleyn Peninsula Coast Path

Vital Stats:
Days: 7
Kilometres: 153 (95 miles)
Region: Wales
Guidebook: Lleyn Peninsula Coast Path

Pushing out into the sea from the coastline of north Wales is the picturesque Lleyn Peninsula. The 95 mile coastal path leads around the Peninsula from Caernarfon to Portmadoc, crossing a variety of landscapes from rocky cliffs to secluded bays, with the coast always nearby. In addition to the walkers’ coastal path the Lleyn has a network of small lanes and byways that also allow cyclists to complete the route.

The coastal path starts in Caernarfon and follows the peninsula anti-clockwise to finish in Portmadoc. It contains a variety of cliff, dune, moor and mountain which is unsurpassed. This route can be completed within a week without too much exertion.

There is not a continuous path alongside the Lleyn’s shores and to walk the peninsula demands occasional sorties inland for a mile or two, so that existing rights of way can be used. This means ascending hills parallel with the coast, or visiting villages just inland. Nevertheless, the sea is rarely out of sight, and the majority of the walk stays close to the shoreline.

Must See
Large areas designated AONB; 50 miles of Heritage Coast. Cliff-top walks, moorland and mountain scenery, historic pilgrim route.

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

Vital Stats:
Days: 8
Kilometres: 154 (96 miles)
Region: Southern England
Guidebook: The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

With big skies, wild marshland, dramatic clifftops and sandy beaches, the 96 miles of the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail offers eight delightful days of accessible walking with good transport links and accommodation, making it easy to tackle as a series of day walks or a few long weekends.

The Peddars Way starts in the heart of East Anglia near Thetford and follows the route of a Roman road through rural Norfolk. Passing picture-perfect villages accessed by walkways lined with Scots pine, it ends in Hunstanton, where it joins the Norfolk Coast Path.

From here the 47 mile Norfolk Coast Path follows a spectacular coastline, Hunstanton’s dramatic striped cliffs gradually giving way to the wildness of a less commercial coastline, with the opportunity to glimpse rare sea birds above the salt marshes on the approach to the trail’s end at the pier in Cromer.

This National Trail is fully waymarked on well-established paths and bridleways. There are no steep hills, but care should be taken on or near crumbling clifftops. The route can be undertaken at any time of year, the Coasthopper bus providing and easy escape from anywhere along the coast should the weather turn bad.

Must See
An old Roman Road, an array of birds (observatories too), windmills, churches, picturesque villages, castle ruins, earthworks, Bronze Age tumuli, carved stone sculptures, sand dunes, striped cliffs, extensive sea views, salt marshes and traditional British seaside resorts.

The Cumbria Coastal Way

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The Cumbria Coastal Way

Vital Stats:
Days: 10-14
Kilometres: 298 (182 miles)
Region: Lake District
Guidebook: The Cumbria Coastal Way

The Cumbria Coastal Way is a continuous walking route from north Lancashire towards the Scottish border, and links a number of gems of landscape, wildlife, archaeology and history that are found on this often overlooked coastline.

Starting at Silverdale, on Morecambe Bay, and edging the coast up towards Gretna, the coastal way can be walked in its entirety in 10–14 days by people of all ages and abilities. Much of the route-finding is easy, and the route, which rarely climbs higher than 100m above sea level, has been designed to link with public transport.

Must See
The sweep of Morecambe Bay, views of the Lake District fells, Muncaster Castle, St Bees Head, solitude of the Solway estuary, historic and literary associations.

And something further afield:

The Camino Finisterre

top ten first time treks - cicerone

The Camino Finisterre

Vital Stats:
Days: 3
Kilometres: 84 (52 miles)
Region: Spain
Guidebook: The Northern Caminos

There are several pilgrimage routes that lead through northern Spain to the sacred city of Santiago de Compostela: the Camino del Norte, the Camino Primitivo, the Camino Inglés and the Camino de Finisterre.

The Camino Finisterre is the shortest trek of these pilgrim routes and offers 3 days of trekking to Santiago from the west coast. Finisterre was believed by the Romans to be the furthest edge of Europe, therefore the end of the world.

Santiago de Compostela, whose cathedral houses the relics of Saint James, was one of the three major centres of Catholic pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, along with Rome and Jerusalem. There was no single route to Santiago; the trail began at one’s doorstep. But as pilgrims approached Spain, many converged on a handful of particularly popular routes, known historically as the Caminos de Santiago, or Way of St James.

Must See
Santiago and Finisterre, sandy beaches, the lighthouse at the end.

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Afterword

A note from the publisher Jonathan – Anyone can trek anything, anywhere. I don’t believe in these lists, just pick something, research it well and do it. Enjoy the experience!

 

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