Walking the Macmillan Way from Dorset to Lincolnshire

The Macmillan Way is a footpath that cuts through the heart of England, from Dorset and Lincolnshire. Spanning 290 miles, it's a long route that most tackle in segments, either for fun or with a charity sponsor. Those living near the trail often walk the parts of it closest to them. For Bourne residents, this footpath may be familiar as it passes nearby Kates Bridge, making the walk just one of many things to do around the town.

What is the Macmillan Way?

The Macmillan Way was developed to bring more awareness to Macmillan Cancer Support. It may get its name from one of Britain's prestigious charities, though the path lies on something much older. That would be the oolitic limestone belt that cuts through England, separating east from west. Predicted to be between 140 and 185 million years old, it formed during the Jurassic period when dinosaurs walked the earth.

Now people walk this trail instead, sometimes as a fundraiser for Macmillan. Given the charity's unique relationship with the path, it's possible to donate the proceeds to them. They even include a handy FAQ on-site to help people with that process.

How to get Started

From Bourne, you have two options when walking the Macmillan Way. Its two starting points are at Boston, Lincolnshire and Abbotsbury, Dorset. That doesn't stop you from choosing your own section of the trail to walk. However, there's something to be said for starting where the trail officially begins.

For a shorter experience, Boston is some 23 miles away from Bourne. Walking from Boston to Bourne or vice versa is an option for those who are unequipped for the longer journey.

For the full experience, you'll want to walk as much of Macmillan Way as possible. That's where you'll want to start as far away as you can, preferably in Abbotsbury, Dorset. This is the southern starting point of the route, considered the end by those travelling from up north. From here, you can walk up to Bourne or complete the whole journey by stopping at Boston. In each case, you'll finish close to home for some much-needed rest.

To get started, you'll need to journey south. While everyone's travel plans can vary, this walk is a long undertaking and so those pressed for time may want to fly. That way, you can get started ASAP by taking a flight to Bournemouth, and then get to nearby Abbotsbury to start the journey. Domestic flights can bridge the north-south divide in record time, without a lengthy drive. There are also many resources available online that help travellers compare cheap flights to Bournemouth, including flights with airlines like British Airways and easyJet. After securing your flight, getting to Abbotsbury should be a breeze using public transport.

How Long is the Walk?

The walk from Abbotsbury to Boston can take 80 hours or more, depending on pace. Naturally, you'll need to stop along the way to recoup and enjoy the sights on this journey. Popular cities like Salisbury and Oxford mark the first two-thirds of the journey. Then, near the end, Northampton and Bourne are nearby. Each place provides a great stop to get more supplies and rest between the day's walks. With sights like the Salisbury Cathedral on the way, there's plenty to take in.

If stopping at Bourne instead of Boston, you can expect a 199-mile trek that clocks in at 72 hours instead. The difference is roughly a day, though rest hasn't been factored into walking times. For either walking plan, you'll need about a week of free time to fully dedicate yourself to this hike. Bringing basic camping equipment can also be an option, especially if you're part of a group.

The route is classified as easy, due to consistent elevation and no harsh terrain. That said, it's a long trail for newcomers who aren't used to walking for so long. There are many hiking options near Bourne that navigate shorter footpaths. Residents can use these to train their stamina and prepare for the Macmillan Way. Then, when the time comes, you'll enjoy this walk through the English countryside a lot more.

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