£1.2m campaign steps up awareness of walking trails

Seven ‘Great Walks of England’ will be showcased in a £1.2 million campaign targeting key overseas markets.

Walks around coastal and rural landscapes – featuring pubs, local food and accommodation – are being developed for walkers from Germany, the Netherlands, France and the US.

Discover England’s Great Walking Trails aims to develop the international appeal of the Pennine Way, South West Coast Path, North Downs Way, Hadrian’s Wall, Norfolk Coast Path, Cleveland Way and Cotswold Way.

The campaign is being funded thanks to a successful bid for £1 million from VisitEngland’s £40 million Discover England Fund by tourist board Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire. It is supplemented by £200,000 from the private sector.

The project will create itineraries for each trail, with a selection of three- to 14-day options.

A programme of trade and travel show visits, PR and media familiarisation visits will develop industry networks and highlight awareness.

It will build on the success of a pilot project led by the South West Coast Path during the first year of the Discover England Fund initiative, which created bookable walking breaks along the 630-mile coastal trail through Dorset, Devon and Cornwall for the German and Dutch markets.

Jo Dilley, Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire managing director, said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity to bring in overseas visitors who enjoy challenging walking and want to experience the real English countryside, but like to eat well, sample quality local beers and stay in comfort at the end of the day.

“It’s also sure to appeal to keen walkers from across the UK who want to visit, stay in and explore some of the country’s loveliest destinations.

Sally Balcombe, chief executive at VisitEngland, added: “The successful projects will boost international and domestic growth, creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England.”

Each trail will highlight a ‘hero’ walk to test market demand, and a project officer, managed by Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, to co-ordinate the campaign.

Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire will work with other tourist boards, the South West Coast Path, Local Enterprise Partnerships, councils, transport providers, the National Trust, National Parks, the British Beer and Pub Association, Stay in a Pub/Cask Marque, The Camping and Caravanning Club and other businesses to deliver the project from now until March 2019.

Pictured: Hikers at Whinstone Lee Tor in the Peak District. VisitBritain/East Midlands Tourism.