Backpacking in England: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in England: An ultralight backpacker in a national park taking a rest

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in England offers immense variety for outdoor enthusiasts, from the rugged peaks of the Lake District to the windswept coastal paths of Cornwall, including popular destinations like the Cotswolds.

And that’s what this post is all about – backpacking in England. We’ll provide tips to help you prepare for backpacking in this diverse country as well as showcase the TOP 5 multi-day trails in England.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in England

  • What to expect: While true wilderness is rare with England’s long history of settlement, the diversity of landscapes, history and culture around every corner make for rewarding backpacking. Be prepared with proper gear, navigate stiles and gates, respect farmland, and watch for traffic on country roads.
  • Essential gear: Be prepared for rain with waterproof gear – jacket, pants, shoes, and a backpack cover. Dress in layers to adapt to varying conditions. Remember to pack a UK power adapter for your electronics.
  • Wildlife: England is generally safe with rare venomous snakes like adders, limited dangerous wildlife, but watch out for ticks transmitting diseases.
  • Wild camping in England is not legal without the landowner’s permission, but it is tolerated in some remote areas like parts of Dartmoor and the Lake District. You can also camp for a few nights in certain forests and woodlands as long as you keep a low profile. Along coasts and beaches it may be allowed depending on local bylaws.
  • Best times to go are the spring (April-May) and early fall (September-October) shoulder seasons, which offer milder weather, greenery and wildflowers in spring or autumn colors in fall, along with fewer crowds. Early summer (June-mid July) brings long days and sunshine along with some crowds, while late fall through early spring should be avoided due to wet and muddy conditions.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in England

Top multi-day trips in England with resupply opportunities at least every two days:

1. Coast to Coast Walk: St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay

A breathtaking vista of a tranquil lake nestled amidst rolling green mountains basking in the first light of dawn

Length: 185 mi / 298 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 31 873 ft / 9715 m
Location: St Bees
Active Burn: 31 100 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The 185-mile Coast to Coast trail from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay is one of England’s most iconic long-distance hikes. This epic journey traverses three stunning national parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors, offering hikers breathtaking scenery and a chance to immerse themselves in the diverse landscapes of northern England.

Along the rugged trail, you’ll encounter dramatic fells, rolling hills, and windswept moors, with opportunities to dip your shoes in both the Irish Sea and the North Sea. While the terrain can be challenging, with steep climbs and a lack of clear signposts, the adventure promises rewarding cultural encounters. You’ll pass through quaint villages, experiencing local traditions and warm hospitality.

2. South Downs Way

The iconic white cliffs of Birling Gap dramatically colliding with the azure waters of the English Channel beneath a canvas of drifting clouds

Length: 101.1 mi / 162.7 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 13 900 ft / 4237 m
Location: South Downs National Park
Active Burn: 16 700 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The 100-mile South Downs Way is a popular long-distance trail that takes you through the rolling hills and spectacular coastline of southern England. This challenging multi-day trek winds its way from Winchester to Eastbourne, passing through medieval villages, World War II sites, and the stunning landscapes of the South Downs National Park.

Highlights along the trail include the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the English coastline. The route also provides opportunities for wild camping.

As you hike the South Downs Way, you’ll be treated to ever-changing vistas of rolling hills, lush meadows, and charming villages, offering a true immersion in the rich history and natural beauty of this region. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a casual backpacker, this multi-day journey promises a memorable adventure.

3. Hadrian’s Wall Path: Wallsend to Bowness

A rugged mountain path winding its way up the rocky terrain of Hadrian's Wall, evoking the essence of this ancient Roman fortification slicing across the wilderness

Length: 85.5 mi / 137.6 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 7906 ft / 2410 m
Location: Wallsend
Active Burn: 13 200 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The 85.5-mile Hadrian’s Wall trail offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the rich history of Roman Britain. This moderately challenging thru-hike follows the route of the ancient Roman wall, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, across the heart of England.

As you embark on this journey, you’ll be treated to a diverse array of landscapes, from rolling countryside to vibrant cities like Newcastle and Carlisle. Along the way, you’ll encounter a wealth of Roman ruins and relics, providing a glimpse into the lives of the legions who once guarded this fortified frontier.

In our opinion this is the best hiking experience offers a rare opportunity to connect with the past while enjoying the beauty of the English countryside.

4. The Cumbria Way

A golden sun sinking below the rugged silhouette of Catbells mountain, its summit clock tower bearing witness to the final moments of daylight over Keswick

Length: 73.8 mi / 118.8 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 13 582 ft / 4140 m
Location: Lake District National Park
Active Burn: 14 800 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The challenging 74-mile Cumbria Way winds through the heart of the picturesque Lake District, from Ulverston to Carlisle. Passing lakes, villages, remote moorlands, and farmlands, this point-to-point trail offers stunning views and diverse terrain.

The varied terrain, ranging from rugged paths to gentle farmlands, requires navigation skills and self-sufficiency due to changeable weather and lack of signage. The route provides a rewarding immersion in England’s famed Lake District National Park.

With proper planning, navigation skills, and a spirit of determination, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the spectacular scenery and undisturbed tranquility of this iconic English wilderness.

5. The Pennine Way

A verdant mountain awash in sunlight stands sentinel beneath white wisps of cloud, evoking the majestic allure of the natural world

Length: 259.6 mi / 417.8 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 42 952 ft / 13 092 m
Location: Castleton
Active Burn: 45 200 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The extremely challenging 260-mile Pennine Way is a renowned long-distance trail traversing the rugged Pennine hills from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Requiring navigation skills and preparation for changeable weather at high elevations, this route is only for experienced backpackers.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll pass through wild moorlands and encounter panoramic peaks like the iconic Pen-y-Ghent, providing an epic adventure across the “backbone of England.” The magnificent yet unforgiving terrain showcases the remote beauty of northern England.

Proper planning, gear, and a deep respect for the unpredictable conditions are essential to tackle this demanding trek safely. However, for those willing to embrace the challenge, the rewards are immense.

Annual Weather Averages

In England, the weather can be quite changeable, and rain is common. Here’s a general overview of the year-round weather:

  • Spring (March – May): Mild days 50s-60s°F and cool nights 30s-40s°F with a mix of sun and showers.
  • Summer (June – August): Warm, sunny days 60s-70s°F but cooler near coasts with frequent rain likely.
  • Fall (September – November): Cooling days in 50s°F and nights in 30s-40s°F with sun, increasing rain and wind.
  • Winter (December – February): Chilly days in 40s°F and cold nights in 30s°F or lower with frequent rain, snow in north and mountains.

Before you decide what gear to bring, check out the average annual weather data recorded in England (Kendal):

High °F434347525762656460544844
Low °F363637404550545350454037
Rain D*14111191010111211131414
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if England is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for Wales and Scotland.


Can I have a campfire while backpacking in England?

In England, lighting campfires while backpacking is generally prohibited without landowner permission. Fires are only permitted in designated areas in national parks. There are some exceptions for small cooking fires using gas stoves in secluded spots, but you should avoid lighting open wood fires while backpacking across private or protected land due to fire risk and smoke pollution.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in England?

When backpacking nature trails in England, be a cautious backpacker prepared for the changeable weather by packing warm layers and waterproof outdoor gear. Carry a map, compass, GPS device, and mobile phone to avoid getting lost while walking across beautiful landscapes. Tell someone your hiking plans and check in regularly from the tent or campsites. Stick to established walking trails and avoid trespassing on private farmland. Beware of steep, muddy, or uneven terrain that can lead to injury. Watch for poisonous adders and irritant plants like giant hogweed while exploring the countryside. At night, set up your tent discreetly and avoid drawing attention. Overall, use caution, trust your instincts, and put safety first when backpacking and exploring England’s trails and stunning landscapes.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in England?

The most common wildlife encounters when backpacking in England are with farm animals like cows, sheep, and horses. It’s best not to startle them, so move slowly and give them ample space. For potentially dangerous animals like adders, back away slowly and give them a wide berth. Avoid feeding or approaching wildlife, as it can disrupt their natural behaviors. If you bring a dog, keep it leashed and under control.

Do U.S. citizens need a visa to visit England?

U.S. citizens can visit England for up to 6 months without a visa for purposes of tourism, visiting family or friends, or business trips. Travelers simply need a valid U.S. passport to enter the country. As long as you do not plan to work, study, or stay beyond your allowed visit, and can support yourself financially, you can enjoy visa-free travel to England. Just be sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned departure. With proper documentation, Americans can conveniently explore historic sites, lively cities, and scenic landscapes across England without the need for a traditional visa.

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At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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