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Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Celebrating our National Trails: the joy of a long walk

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. We do this in a bid to be less polluting and tackle climate change while at the same time keeping a global outlook. The world has many long walks - from the Great Wall of China to mega trips undertaken by adventurers who know it's all taking the first step. Pete May gets some tips from writer Paddy Dillon about where to go in the UK for his next big walk.

Pete May and dog tackle the Thames Path on a very wet day.
AroundBritain No Plane enjoyed celebrating Cicerone’s very useful guides to National Trails at Foyles Bookshop in London. Now the guides include an OS-style mapping booklet that gives you all the mapping you need for the Pennine Way, Coast to Coast, Cotswold Way, Hadrian’s Wall, Offa’s Dyke, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Great Glen Way, Thames Path and West Highland Way. The dedicated route maps eliminate the need for buying lots of separate maps and can be used in either direction. They were praised by Kate Ashbrook, President of The Ramblers. And all the guides also have very useful accommodation sections and tips on who baggage carriers, if that's what you or your family need.

Cicerone writer Paddy Dillon gave an entertaining talk on walking all the long distance trails of Britain — and he’s now walking them again to revise his guides. Paddy, who grew up with Burnley, first walked the Pennine Way at 16, “when I did absolutely everything wrong, so I could only get better!” He showed pictures of his travels around the UK’s trails and introduced us to some of the more obscure but interesting paths such as the Yorkshire Wolds Way, Peddars Way and North Norfolk Coastal Path, the Pennine Bridleway, the Speyside Way and Glyndลตr’s Way.

By this time I was tempted to tackle the North Norfolk Coastal Path or the Yorkshire Wolds Way this summer.

The next speaker, Ursula Martin of OneWomanWalksWales, got me thinking about how to walk across Wales.

After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer Ursula decided to walk 400 miles to her next hospital appointment in Bristol to raise money for cancer charities. She eventually completed 3000 miles along trails like Offa’s Dyke, the Cistercian Way, the Severn Way, the high-level Cambrian Way (“which almost broke me”) and the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (“my favourite”). “People’s kindness was overwhelming. I planned to rough camp, but I was given so much stuff, tea, meals, and beds for the night. There was a lot of serendipity.” 

Initially she planned to walk 19 miles a day but then suffered a tendon injury. “In the end I let go of time and distance and just walked.” After her treatment Ursula has been clear of cancer for four years and is now writing a book about her journey. Her next project is to walk and sail through Europe.

A morning spent talking national trails can’t help but inspire some wanderlust for Britain’s vast array of walkways and Cicerone’s very thorough guides are the ideal way to plan your route. 
Over to you
Do share your best long distance routes - have you tried doing a long walk on your own or do you have any tips to tempt your family along?

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