The Macmillan Way: A route to raising funds for charity

In the BCH Camping blog we regularly feature walks, both local to our stores and from further afield. Walking is made even more enjoyable when raising money for charity. This month we bring you not just one walk, but a network of paths known collectively as The Macmillan Ways, which was founded to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Peter and Janet Titchmarsh founded the Macmillan Way Association in 1997. Their quest involved a lot of commitment. They walked and re-walked the 290 mile coast to coast route, writing detailed descriptions and taking photographs as they went. They liaised with local authorities to install signage, and obtained permission from Ordnance Survey for mapping. Eventually the route was established from Boston in Lincolnshire to Abbotsbury in Dorset.
Supplementary routes followed soon after. These were:
  • the Macmillan Way West that links the main route with Castle Cary, South Somerset
  • the Cross Britain Way that runs between Boston and Barmouth on the Welsh coast
  • the Cross Cotswold Pathway, starting at Banbury and ending in Bath
  • the Abbotsbury to Langport Link, joining the Macmillan Way north of Abbotsbury to the Macmillan Way West at Langport.
To date over £350,000 has been raised for Macmillan Cancer Support by people undertaking sponsored walks, and through the sale of guides and associated materials.

The Macmillan Way

Due to the length of the main path, the guidebook breaks down the Macmillan Way route into sections as follows:
Boston to Obthorpe - 30 miles
Obthorpe to Oakham - 25 miles
Oakham to Flore - 43 miles
Flore to Warmington - 22 miles
Warmington to Maugersbury - 24 miles
Maugersbury to Stow-on-the-Wold - 26 miles
Stow-on-the-Wold to Bradford-on-Avon - 37 miles
Bradford-on-Avon to Bruton - 32 miles
Bruton to Abbotsbury - 51 miles
The Macmillan Way starts from Boston, then crosses the Lincolnshire Fens to the west at Kate's Bridge near Bourne. After joining the limestone belt, it runs to Stamford and then out of Lincolnshire, along the shore of Rutland Water to Oakham in Leicestershire. From there, it heads south and west through Warmington to Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. The route then meanders through the Cotswold Hills to Cirencester, Tetbury and Bradford-on-Avon.
The final stages take the route through Somerset and into Dorset to Abbotsbury, a coastal village known for its old limestone buildings.

Macmillan Way West

The Macmillan Way West runs for 102 miles from Castle Cary in Somerset to Barnstaple in Devon,  connecting with the main Macmillan Way at Castle Cary. This is a path of inclines and descents, waymarked from east to west, but not from west to east.
The route follows the valley of the River Cary to Somerton, then crosses the Somerset Levels to North Petherton, where the path climbs the Quantock Hills. It then follows the ridge of the hills for several miles, passing their highest point, Will's Neck, after which it runs down to the village of Bicknoller. It then follows lower ground to Williton and Dunster.
After passing the village of Wootton Courtenay there is another climb to Exmoor’s highest point, Dunkery Beacon. For the last 20 miles to Barnstaple, the path follows the route of the Tarka Trail.

The Cross Britain Way

The 280 mile Cross Britain Way shares the starting point of the Macmillan Way at Boston, Lincolnshire, but takes a completely different route west across England, to Barmouth on the Welsh Coast.
The route was the brainchild of Tim Brunton who wanted to add a route to the Macmillan Way that crossed the whole of the country. His goal was to include less well-known areas of the English countryside, embrace Britain’s cultural and industrial heritage, and enjoy the stunning scenery and changing landscapes.
From the Lincolnshire Fens the route cuts through the Vale of Belvoir, the Leicestershire Wolds, and the National Forest. From South Staffordshire it turns south west across Cannock Chase though East Shropshire, and along the Iron Bridge Gorge. From here, it makes its way into the Shropshire hills, across mid Wales and over the Berwyn mountains to Snowdonia National Park, ending at Barmouth.

The Cross Cotswold Pathway

This is an 86 mile walking route across the Cotswolds from Banbury to Bath. The starting and finishing sections give walkers excellent bus and train links to the northern and southern ends of the Cotswolds. The route follows existing footpaths, bridleways and byways and small stretches of minor roads.
From Banbury the route heads westward, past Broughton Castle. It then follows the Roman road towards the village of Epwell, just before which it joins the Macmillan Way to Box in Wiltshire. From Box the route crosses the Avon before joining the Kennet and Avon canal towpath into Bath.
The Macmillan Way Association added the Cotswold Link between Chipping Campden and Banbury so that walkers can take a circular route, starting and ending in Banbury. This route runs from Banbury to Bath on the Cross Cotswold Pathway, from Bath to Chipping Campden on the Cotswold Way, back to Banbury on the Cotswold Link.

The Abbotsbury to Langport Link

The Abbotsbury - Langport link was added to the Macmillan Way as a 24 mile shortcut to facilitate the 126 mile coast-to-coast route from Abbotsbury to Barnstaple. It joins the Macmillan Way north of Abbotsbury to the Macmillan Way West at Langport.

What do you need to complete a long distance walk?

To truly enjoy a long distance walk, you need to be fully prepared. As well as booking accommodation in advance and checking the weather forecast, you should also make sure you have the correct clothing and equipment to last you throughout the route.
BCH Camping supply a wide range of clothing, walking boots, rucksacks, camping equipment and backpacking kit. Our staff can advise you on matters such as layering, the best walking boots for the expected terrain, and general advice on what to expect from such an extensive hike. Just get in touch by calling 01225 764977 or emailing us at
Remember, the adventure starts at BCH Camping!