Coastline. Well, you might say, of course there is coastline, England is an island.

But, before the England Coast Path came into view, only one English coastline has a national trail along its length. The South-West Coast Path, at well over 600 miles, is the longest of our national trails, hugging almost every mile of the region.

And a superb coastline it is too, something for everyone, from genuinely rough and remote walking around Hartland Quay or Zennor, say, to quiet sandy bays, impressive industrial and prehistoric archaeology, and thriving seaside resorts.

But what happens if you want something more challenging, navigationally, than making sure the sea is always on the same side of your body? (And before anyone says anything, yes I do know there are navigational challenges on the coast path too.)

You could try Dartmoor. The highest and most extensive moorland in southern Britain, it’s been used for military training for decades, precisely because the disorientating effect of the granite tors puncturing a wild plateau subject to frequent mist and fog poses tests no matter how fit and experienced you might be.

Carousel above: St Ives; Tintagel Head; Buttern Hill on Bodmin Moor; approaching Winchcombe on the Cotswold Way; the Birmingham Canal Navigations; the Ridgeway on the Wessex Downs; the poplars of Buscot on the upper Thames

Somerset has hill ranges too, Polden, Mendip and Quantock. To the south, Dorset has, I believe, a higher proportion of its land rated for scenic beauty than any other county of England. To the north lie the Cotswolds, source of London’s river the Thames, and hence the long-distance Thames Path which follows it to the sea.

Along the rolling chalk hills of Wiltshire runs the Ridgeway on its Iron Age way east. And if the remaining stretch of my ‘west’ is mostly taken up by the industrial heartland of the West Midlands and Black Country, then so be it. Good walking hides here too, as I show on my cross-England walk.

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Across England

Land’s End to the Midlands

Cotswold Way

(taken as part of my cross-England walk)

The Ridgeway
South West Coast Path

Minehead to Land’s End