Khoollect explores: Britain’s five finest tracks

For those who love to take a good, long walk in the countryside to fill their lungs with fresh air and clear their busy minds, Britain’s landscape is littered with wondrous walking tracks. We’ve consulted Mary-Ann Ochota’s Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape to help us select the five finest. Here’s what she recommends:

1. Green Lanes of the Icknield Way, section: Pegsdon to Luton, Hertfordshire. Start at TL 119 303
The climb from Pegsdon village gives a good idea of how the ancient Icknield Way traces the high ground. Turning south-west, the track forms a wide, winding, tree-lined green lane now designated as a restricted byway. Dozens of paths in this area make it easy to turn this into a circular walk or ride.
2. Terraced and hollowayed routes on the Pilgrim’s Way: section Trottiscliffe to Paddlesworth, near Snodland, Kent.
Start at Trosley Country Park TQ 633 610. Head east through the woods on the trackway that runs along the upper ridge to TQ 649 614, turn south-east down a holloway to the lower terraced path just above the fields, then continue east towards Paddlesworth. The 900-year old St Benedict’s Church opposite Paddlesworth Farm (TQ 684 621) may well have been a key stop-off point for weary pilgrims before they reached the River Medway. This section is approximately 4 miles (6km).
3. Packhorse trail, Colne Valley, Marsden, West Yorkshire, around SE 056 128
The original packhorse route through Yorkshire’s Colne Valley was used by jaggers and their ponies and donkeys to move salt, wool and lime. It meanders up over Cop Hill, with sections incorporated into modern roads, bridleways and footpaths. The path between the junction of Marsden Lane/CrowTrees Road and Netherwood Lane (SE 056 128) has been faithfully restored. Another atmospheric section, between Tyas Lane and Scout Lane (SE 059 141) retains its old setts (paving stones), in use since medieval times. Downloadable route details and a phone app for a complete heritage trail between Slaithwaite and Marsden are at crossingthepennines.co.uk
4. Corpse Road, Bellever to Lydford, Dartmoor SX 655 772 to SX 510 847
The 12 mile (19km) lychway track runs across what was once one of the largest parishes in England to the church and burial ground at Lydford. Despite the distance and exposed terrain, parishioners were compelled to carry their dead across the moor to secure a Christian burial. A coffin stone, used to rest the deceased while the bearers had a break (and traditionally, a tot of whisky), is still visible on a ‘churchway’ to Widdecombe, just east of Dartmeet (SX 677 733). The low granite stone, now split in two, has a number of initials scratched in to it, thought to be the names of the dead who rested there on their final journey.
5. Hollow Roads and Green Lanes, Shepton Beauchamp, near Ilminster, Somerset, around ST 403 172
There are many fine old holloways winding through south Somerset. Iron Dish Lane (ST 403 194) and the astonishingly deep holloway along Shells Lane (ST 402 177) are particularly impressive, Hollow Road and Green Lane (which meet at ST 398 160) are also worth exploring.
Extracted from Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape by Mary-Ann Ochota, published by Frances Lincoln (£20).

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Lara is Khoollect’s Creative Editor. This London-based Glaswegian is the creative behind the camer...

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