Britain’s famous River Thames, which flows through the city of London, boasts a National Trail called the Thames Path. 2016 marks the Path’s 20th anniversary since its designation, and in July hundreds of ramblers and walkers celebrated by taking part in a 16 day walking relay from source to sea. The commemorative baton was carried over 200 miles and ceremonially passed on each day by local dignitaries.
It was a relay that would appeal to any tourist. From the river’s source, the Thames Path – which like Britain’s other National Trails forms a section of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) in Europe – winds through attractive countryside featuring water meadows, quaint villages, locks and historic towns such as Oxford and Windsor.
The final section takes walkers through London to reach the Thames Barrier, passing famous landmarks such as Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and the Houses of Parliament, the World Heritage Site of Greenwich and Tower and London bridges. A photo gallery has been created for everyone to enjoy. Steven Tabbitt, Thames Path Trails Manager, was pleased to see so many people take part: “The relay brought people and places together in a celebration of this unique National Trail”.
Looking north of the Thames, the Pennine Way celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. It was the first National Trail to be designated in 1965 using new legislation that had been inspired by a campaign for public access and enjoyment of Britain’s unique countryside, which in turn was inspired by the development of the Appalachian Trail in the United States.
A lot has been achieved since 1965. Today, there are 15 official National Trails spreading across 2,500 miles (4,000 km) of the most attractive landscapes in England and Wales. These trails take people over rolling mountains, remote moorland, rugged coastline, tranquil woodland and picturesque farmland.
The National Trail ‘family’ continues to evolve and look to the future. Currently under development is the the England Coast Path which will encompass the entire English coast by 2020. This coastal trail will become one of the longest coastal walking routes in the world. National Trails are also hosting a greater variety and number of events, ranging from marathon running to festivals and rambles for disabled people in all-terrain scooters. Three Trails can be ridden on horseback or bicycle – The Ridgeway, South Downs Way and Pennine Bridleway. Everyone is encouraged to discover the UK National Trails to ensure they continue to be valued as part of Britain’s natural heritage. Plan a visit soon and feel free to donate to the maintenance of these National Trails of England and Wales. Be sure to visit the National Trails website and follow us on Facebook @thenationaltrails and on Twitter @NationalTrails.