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LDPs Regional Summary

Northern England

Walking Routes & Trail-miles: 179 main routes / 15539 miles - 63 waymarked / 3812 miles

Areas: Cleveland, Durham, North Lincolnshire, Yorkshire (North, East; South & West), Tyne & Wear - areas include unitaries

National Parks: Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors

Principal AONBs: Nidderdale, Howardian Hills, North Pennines

World Heritage Sites: Durham Castle & Cathedral, Saltaire, Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, Hadrian's Wall

Heritage Coast: Yorkshire: North Yorkshire and Cleveland, Flamborough Headland, Spurn

European Long Distance Paths (E-Routes): E2 variant: Middleton in Teesdale to Dover, E2 variant: Middleton in Teesdale to Harwich, E8 Liverpool to Hull

National Walking Trails: Cleveland Way, Hadrian's Wall (part), Pennine Way (part), Pennine Bridleway (part), Yorkshire Wolds Way

Resident population: Seven Million

Regional Trails Summary - Northern England

A region with some of the scenic jewels of England's crown, it is home to two major National Parks: the Yorkshire Dales National Park with its many long dales cutting through limestone uplands, and the North York Moors National Park that includes the moorland masses of the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors themselves, with some of the most extensive heather moors in Europe extending across to the Cleveland coast. Here the Cleveland coastline provides fine cliff scenery, while further south, on the Holderness coast, lower cliffs of softer, eroding boulder-clay extend to Spurn Point where the Humber estuary divides Yorkshire from North Lincolnshire.

From the chalk cliffs at Flamborough Head on the East Yorkshire coast a crescent-shaped range of gentler hills, the Yorkshire Wolds, arcs around south towards the Humber, offering typical chalk downland landscapes. There is a similar lower range - the Lincolnshire Wolds south of the Humber. Away from these hills much of this area has a flatter, agricultural landscape, crossed by the Trent as it flows to the Humber estuary. Thorne and Hatfield Moors are part of the largest complex of lowland raised bogs in Britain.

Bounding the region to the west is the sweep of the Pennines - the backbone of England - that together with the North York Moors forms the watershed for many of Yorkshire's great rivers, that flow eventually to the Humber estuary. From the Pennines the Swale, Ure, Nidd and Wharfe join the Ouse, while the Calder joins the Aire. From the North York Moors the Derwent flows south to the Humber. Between the Pennines and the Moors lies the Vale of York, with its pastoral lowland landscapes and the historic City of York. Further north the estuaries of the Tees, Wear and Tyne are home to much industry, providing employment for the large urban populations in Teeside, Wearside and Tyneside.

With such varied attractions for walkers, there are strong walking traditions and not surprisingly a large choice of routes, with about 6500 miles of trails in all. There are almost 2300 miles of waymarked trails, some offering easy-to-follow routes suitable for the less experienced. This is also a great area for those seeking a challenge, with over half of the routes rated as 'challenging'. There are about 70 'Anytime Challenges' on offer, listed below, totalling some 2400 miles, each offering a completion certificate and often a badge.

With distinctive landscapes on display there are four contrasting National Trails to choose from, the Cleveland Way with sections both on the North York Moors and along the coastline, reaching at Filey the linking Yorkshire Wolds Way, that runs through softer, rolling downland. From Tyneside Hadrian's Wall Path starts its scenic coast-to-coast traverse along a Roman frontier, now the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site. The Pennine Way meanders from dale to dale as it passes through the north Pennines, while the broadly parallel Pennine Bridleway, designed mainly for horse riders and mountain bikers, forms a major new route for walkers through the Yorkshire Dales, usually taking a lower line. Routes related to the Cleveland Way include the Tabular Hills Link Walk that provides a missing link to complete the main route's horseshoe shape while the Cleveland Street Walk links Guisborough with Loftus.

Several routes traverse one or more of the dales. The major Dales Way journeys from Cumbria across the Yorkshire Dales and it is a very popular route. The Denby Way explores Denby Dale with its famous pie while the Eskdale Way, Newtondale Trail and the Nidderdale Way explore their own dales and rivers. An alternative route aimed mainly at horse riders is the Newtondale Horse Trail. High level dales routes include the Dales High Way and the Barningham Trail that links Teesdale with Arkengarthdale. Other routes with landscape themes include the Chalkland Way in the chalk hills of the Yorkshire Wolds and the Peatlands Way on the Hatfield peat moors.  A forestry route is the Blue Man Walk, in coniferous woodland in the North York Moors,

River routes include the Airedale Way, Colne Valley Circular Walk, Dearne Way, Ebor Way (Foss and Ouse), Foss Walk, River Wear Trail and Weardale Way, and the Swale Way. The Lake Pickering Circuit goes around the Vale of Pickering, the likely site of a past glacial lake. The Calderdale Way encircles the Calder river valley's towns.

There are some coast-to-coast variants originating in the region: the Trans Pennine Trail is now a major network of multi-user trails spanning the country from Hull to Liverpool with several spur routes. The two Bay to Bay Walks link Barrow to Robin Hood's Bay via Grassington. Coastal footpaths include the Durham Coastal Footpath.

Beating the Bounds is a strong English tradition, nowhere more manifest than in the north. Many routes circuit a borough, town or city: the Barnsley Boundary Walk, Brighouse Boundary Walk, Doncastrian Way, Harrogate Ringway, Kirklees Way, Leeds Country Way, Maltby Circular Walk,  Penistone Boundary Walk, Ripon Rowel, Rotherham Ring Route, Rotherham Round Walk and Wakefield Way. The Heron Way offers many options near Doncaster. The Holme Valley Circular Walk visits the heights above the valley. There are millennium routes for Bradford and York: Millennium Way - Bradford and Millennium Way - York, while the Todmorden Centenary Way marks a town's anniversary. The Jorvic Way - Jorvic is the Viking name for York - celebrates the city's Viking history. The Silver Lincs Way is a Ramblers' route linking Grimsby and Louth, while both the South Tyneside Heritage Trail and the Spen Way Heritage Trail (in the former Spenborough) include heritage sites.

Literary figures are marked in the Herriot Way in James Herriott's Yorkshire country and the Bronte Round (an Anytime Challenge) links Bronte sites, as does the Bronte Way that starts in Yorkshire. The Hambleton Hillside Mosaic Walk includes many mosaics en route. Heritage is represented by the Lady Anne's Way that remembers Lady Ann Clifford, member of a famous family. The Wilberforce Way marks the Hull-born campaigner against the slave trade, William Wilberforce.

Other World Heritage Sites are visited by several routes, including Fountains Abbey (Abbey Trail and Ripon Rowel) while Durham Castle and Cathedral are passed by the Weardale Way. There is a Christian theme for the Abbey Trail that visits seven historic abbeys and for the Abbeys Amble that also includes three castles, while Tyneside's Bede's Way remembers the Venerable Bede. The Minster Way links famous Minsters at Beverley and York. The Whitby Way visits several pilgrimage sites. At Shipley, the Saltaire Village World Heritage Site, a complete 19th century industrial village, lies on the Dales Way - Shipley Link. Other industrial heritage includes former railway routes on the Durham Railway Paths and Penistone Line Trail. Past mineral industries in Durham are marked by the Lead Mining Trail.

Mark Reid provides two routes themed on the Black Sheep pubs: the Inn the North York Moors and the Inn the Yorkshire Dales link hostelries, and a third of his many routes, the Yorkshire Water Way, supported by Yorkshire Water, links their reservoirs.

The best known of the Anytime Challenges in this region are the classic Lyke Wake Walk on a traditional coffin route across the North York Moors, and the Three Peaks Walk (Yorkshire) above Ribblesdale, climbing over 5000ft on Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Brian Smailes provides a guidebook for both, along with his own Yorkshire Dales Top Ten. (The Shepherd's Round provides an alternaive to the Lyke Wake Walk that has suffered overuse and erosion.)

Significant route developers and recorders include two with four routes: Louise Mallinson (Almsciff Amble, Sting in the Tail, Two Beacons Challenge and Wharfedale-Washburn Challenge) and Ian Parker (Settle Scamble, Skipton Double Trigger, Skipton Saunter and Skipton-Settle Link). There are three routes each from Peter Bayer (Three Crags, Three Moors and Three Rivers Walks), John Eckersley (Nidd Valley Link, Rezzy Rush and Yorkshire Dales Challenge Walk) and Steph Carter (Ainsty Bounds Walk, Dales Traverse and Seahorse Saunter). Two routes each come from Derek Haller, Kim Peacock, John Sparshatt and Arnold Underwood. Several LDWA Groups act as route Recorders: Cleveland, East Yorkshire and Nidderdale.

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