From its modest start in the small town of Hebden Bridge, tucked away in the Pennines, the Walkers are Welcome scheme now runs in towns and villages across the country. When a handful of people came up with the idea to attract more walkers to the area and to improve the footpath network and facilities for walkers, they had no idea it would grow so quickly. There are now 55 towns and villages across England, Wales and Scotland that have been awarded the Walkers are Welcome status. You can find out more about the network of towns and villages by visiting www.walkersarewelcome.org.uk. The good news for long distance walkers is that one quarter of these towns and villages are on, or very close to, National Trails (www.nationaltrail.co.uk), so if you want to explore a Trail, the places listed below may be good places to base yourself or make useful stopovers.
Pennine Way - Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Marsden
Pennine Bridleway - Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd
Hadrian's Wall Path - Haltwhistle
Yorkshire Wolds Way - Market Weighton
Cleveland Way - Guisborough
Offa's Dyke Path - Prestatyn/Meliden and Llangollen
Cotswold Way - Winchcombe and Kings Stanley/Leonards Stanley
South West Coast Path - Dunster, Kingsbridge and Hayle
National Trails are long distance routes for walking, cycling and horse riding threading their way through the most unspoilt landscapes in England and Wales; in Scotland, the equivalent trails are known as long distance routes. In England and Wales, there are about 2,500 miles (4,000km) of National Trail routes created by using local footpaths, bridleways and minor roads and by establishing new ones to cover gaps. There are fifteen Trails in England and Wales and four in Scotland. After World War II, the desire to keep areas of Britain 'special' and to protect them from post-war development led to the establishment of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs) and Long Distance Routes (now National Trails); the first route, the Pennine Way, opened in 1965. Each Trail in England and Wales has a National Trail Officer responsible for its management and maintenance to nationally agreed standards.