National Trails are long distance paths which are the gold standard for public access to the countryside.
The 13 National Trails in England offer over 2000 miles of walking (and in some cases cycling, horse-riding and carriage driving) across our most stunning landscapes.
Wales also has two National Trails, one of which – Offa Dyke’s Path – it shares with England.
National Trails are enjoyed by an estimated 12million people each year.
In addition to the beauty and history of the landscapes crossed by National Trails, the National Trails Network is distinguished by its consistent signage and maintenance.
When walkers use National Trails they can trust that the routes will be clear, safe and enjoyable.
The consistently high standard of National Trails attracts both many visitors, from the UK and overseas, who bring significant economic benefits to local economies.
A report published in 2003 estimated that the South West Coast Path generates £307 million a year for the economy of the region and supports 7,500 jobs, and 73.3% of accommodation providers within one mile of the Coast Path consider it to be an important selling point for their business.
The Ramblers played a crucial role in the formation of National Trails – including the first ever National Trail, the Pennine Way, which was finally completed in 1965 – and has been a strong advocate for National Trails ever since.
We believe it's our duty to ensure our National Trails have a fantastic future.
In June 2012, the Government announced a review into the way England’s 13 National Trails (including Offa’s Dyke which weaves in and out of England and Wales) would be looked after and funded.
Our overriding concern was that the Government’s plans left National Trails without a national champion – something we feel is essential if the Trails are to reach their full potential and be world-class, exemplar walking routes.
The degradation of National Trails would be bad news for walkers and other users such as cyclists and horse-riders who depend on the high quality of maintenance and signage found on National Trails. Foreign tourists in particular are attracted to National Trails because they can trust that their walk will not be interrupted by getting lost or unexpectedly finding a section of the Trail blocked. But it would also be bad news for the thousands of local businesses that rely on the Trails’ popularity.
National Trails – already an amazing asset for Trail users and local businesses – have so much more potential.
In response to the Government’s plans, Ramblers has published ‘National Trails: A fantastic future’. This sets out how we could maintain and enhance National Trails and the benefits they bring to users and local communities.
We propose the creation of a National Trails Trust to serve as a national champion for National Trails. A national champion would:
- Advocate for National Trails at a national level
- Ensure that one set of quality standards are maintained across all National Trails
- Work for the Local Trail Partnerships, which would be responsible for local management, maintenance and decision-making
- Promote National Trails both nationally and internationally in order to increase their economic benefits
- Extend the National Trails Network, bringing National Trails within reach of most of the population
National Trails are already the gold standard for walking in England; a National Trails Trust would raise this standard even higher.
The Ramblers vision is supported by several other user organisations and celebrities, including:
- The British Council for Archaeology
- The British Horse Society
- The Sport and Recreation Alliance
- CTC—the national cycling charity
- The British Mountaineering Council
- Long Distance Walkers Association
- Sir Chris Bonington, Mountaineer and Explorer
- Janet Street-Porter, journalist and broadcaster
- Stuart Maconie, radio presenter and author
- Roly Smith, President of the Outdoor Writers' and Photographers' Guild