Right to Roam - Hiking in the United Kingdom

After backpacking around the world, we've settled into a more normal travel routine, taking shorter vacations here and there to relax and recharge. That's not to say the adventure is gone- in fact we're probably pickier and more selective about the places we visit now given that we have only a short time to get there and explore. Our focus now is to go to places where we can do the activities we love like hiking and camping instead of focusing on places where we can check off a list of must-sees.High on the list of activity focused vacations is the United Kingdom. Although I spent several weeks there on a teen tour and a few pamper days in England in college during my study abroad semester, my time in the United Kingdom so far really only hit the highlights of each country and a week or so running about London. With all of the big 'must see' tourist destinations out of the way, I'm planning to spend my next trip there focused on activities we love like hiking the hills or even better Scotland's highlands. Why hiking in the United Kingdom? Well, walking, as it is called in the United Kingdom is apparently the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Great Britain, at least according to the Ramblers Association. Government laws protect the right to roam in Scotland in places that walking has been unhindered for more than 20 years and in England and Wales the public has right of way on many routes through private land. That's pretty cool, especially coming from America where the freedom to roam is often curtailed by signs warning about trespassing.
In England and Wales many of these “right to roam” routes are signposted and you even have the right to camp along the footpaths if you wish. Although there’s a substantial network of these trails, most of the long-distance paths are far from civilization, allowing you to really get away from it all – something that doesn’t generally come to mind when I think of the United Kingdom. The terrain may not be mountainous by most people’s standards, but the fact that you can get up and just start down a footpath and see where it takes you is very inviting.
Apparently challenge walks, or long-distance timed walks are also popular in the United Kingdom. We completed a 100K/24 hour hike a few years ago along the C&O canal in D.C. which was fun, exhausting and definitely the kind of hike that needed to end in massage treatments. Danny did another one in February along the same route that was just 50 miles (just!) and I could see us doing another long-distance hike again. With names like the Lake Wake Walk and the Three Peaks Walk, I think we’re in!