Last edited 15 Feb 2021

National trails

National Trials are long distance routes along footpaths and bridlepaths in England and Wales used for walking, cycling and horse riding. In Scotland, equivalent routes are known as Scotland’s Great Trails. There is a total of approximately 400km of National Trail.

National Trails are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Pennine Way was the first National Trail to open in 1965 and there are now a total of 15 National Trails, all of which are accessible to walkers:

National Trails are managed locally by Trail Partnerships made up of the local authorities responsible for the path. Each trail has a National Trails Officer responsible for the overall coordination of maintenance of the route.

Natural England and Natural Resources Wales provide support for National Trails at the national level, with funding provided by the government and also by local highway authorities and other partners.

The National Planning Policy Framework suggests that local authorities should seek to provide better facilities, for example, by extending National Trails.

NB: National Parks are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 with further protection provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

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