South Downs Trekathon
The South Downs National Park, although only designated a National Park in 2010, has been enjoyed by walkers and cyclists for decades. Its varied landscapes see a higher number of visitors than any of England’s nine other National Parks.
Walking Challenges UK
What is a Walking challenge?
A great relaxing way to raise funds for your favorite charity is by participating in walking challenges in the UK. Walking challenges are fun, fulfilling and enable you to fully enjoy and engage with the route you take. You can find walking events that take you through parks, cities, countryside or even to the top of mountains. Varying in length and difficulty they are a great way to keep fit and healthy whilst raising money for a great cause
Anyone can take part in charity treks or a sponsored walk or charity trek whatever their level of fitness, this makes them ideal for anyone wanting to take part as a way to raise money for a great cause. There is less rigorous training or preparation needed compared to a run, but you’ll still want to get yourself ready as you need endurance more than anything. Any walks for charity can provide great motivation to keep up your training regime and propel you to the finish line.
Training and Preparation
Walking challenges can vary from a 5k walk or 10k walk up to larger challenges such as walking marathons or even sponsored walks for charity that may span a few days. You will need a good amount of endurance as many challenges incorporate uphill and downhill sections that will tire you out quickly if you are not used to long distance walking. It is critical for you to exercise regularly in order to improve your endurance and begin to build up stronger leg muscles that can withstand hours and hours of use.
Ideally, you should begin training by walking three times a week – use a mix of leg exercises combined with core strengthening techniques to build and improve muscle. And walk, a lot. You can easily incorporate walking in to your lifestyle – a trip to the shop, visiting family or friends etc can all be done of foot rather than taking the car.
You’ll want to try and give yourself some routes that you can practice on and try to extend the length of these walks. Start off with just a few miles and slowly try to build up to longer distances.
Mix it up
Once you’ve got accustomed to walking longer distances, you can then start to take your activity on to different types of surfaces. These should ideally include grass, hill and pavement, and in different weather conditions.
Your training program should never be all work and no play – you can reward yourself with treats or goals at the end of walks. Instead of taking the car to the movies, walk instead and use that as your motivation.
Food for thought
People mostly worry about what to eat or drink during training and at the walking event. There are no hard and fast rules to this – jut make sure to drink lots of water or sports drinks to keep yourself hydrated and energised. You need to have a healthy daily intake of proteins and carbs to maintain your energy levels and ensure you don’t burn out. During the walk you can eat carbs and energy containing foods to keep you going to fight the fatigue.
Get the right Gear
Apart from nutrition, invest in some good clothing and walking shoes or boots. Although walking boots or shoes can be a bit costly, they are durable and won’t give you blisters. Similarly, you want to buy high-quality socks that won’t rub your feet too much and allow your feet to breath. Also it’s worth having a second pair spare just in case they get wet during the walk.
A majority of walkers prefer to wear lightweight trousers and a sports top for the main event. Whilst not essential, like socks, they will allow your skin to breath and keep sweat away whilst keeping you warm. Furthermore, carry a pair of gloves to keep if you will be walking in cold areas.
You may also consider carrying a small emergency kit with things such as plasters or creams should you get stung by the wildlife. There are also a variety of gadgets you can take with you too. If you are walking an unfamiliar route then a mapping or GPS system will come in very handy in case you get lost. If the route will be over a few days, then a battery pack for your mobile phone will help in case of emergencies.
Taking part in a challenging walk can be exhilarating and rewarding, but don’t forget to take adequate rest during the training period. Do not push yourself beyond your limit and most of all, enjoy the experience!
Top Walking Challenges in the UK
We have picked out the best walking challenges taking place in 2020. We have lots more listings available, just click on the 'Walking Events' tab at the top of this page to find them.
Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge
Spend a weekend out in the Yorkshire countryside in September. Scaling 3 peaks in two days this is a difficult but very rewarding event. With some fantastic scenery including the limestone outcrops and unusual rock formations.
Charity Walk Course
Our route starts in the lovely old town of Lewes and follows part of the famously scenic South Downs Way. We walk over rolling hills and high ridges dotted with long barrows and ancient earthworks, often accompanied by magnificent vistas down to the sea. We tackle stiff climbs and descents before our spectacular final stretch over the famous white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, before finishing on the highest chalk sea cliff in England – the beautiful headland of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne. This is a tough event over rolling downs and cliffs; at 26 miles, it forms an enormous challenge for walkers. There will be full support throughout the challenge with marshals and water stops along the route.
Our challenging day starts from the market town of Lewes, an old Roman settlement with a castle dating back to Saxon times and re-built after the Norman invasion. We set off early in the morning – essential for completing the distance – from Lewes Castle, and head southwest towards the downs. It’s not long before we’re climbing uphill, with some steep sections in the first few miles. Walking along a ridge with wonderful views inland to the downs and south to the coast, we skirt the pretty village of Rodmell, descending to cross the River Ouse. It’s not long before we climb up high again, steeply at first and then more gradually to Beddingham Hill and its twin radio masts. The land drops away steeply inland to form deep combes; the views are very picturesque and you can soak them up as you stop to catch your breath! Inland, the downs are dotted with occasional farms and small villages, in contrast to the more built-up coastal belt to our south.
Our route now contours along a beautiful ridge, with impressive views in all directions. It’s not long before we climb a little higher to reach our halfway mark, and the highest point of our day, at Firle Beacon (217m). Firle Beacon is a Marilyn – the term given to a hill which is 150m higher than its surroundings, regardless of actual height – and is one of only 11 in the southeast.
This is a great point for a rest and a snack before we head downhill via the ancient, well-preserved Long Burgh long barrow to the small village of Alfriston. Alfriston is very pretty, with lots of authentic timbered buildings, and attracts many tourists. We walk through the village, crossing and then following Cuckmere River as it winds its way to the coast. This is our first flat section of any length! The riverside scenery is very different and we will feel refreshed for the change, and the respite to our leg muscles!
Cuckmere Haven, where the river meets the English Channel, is a common film location: with its backdrop of white chalk cliffs, its beach is often used to depict Dover. Second World War pillboxes and other remains show its role in the country’s defence. From here, we take the South Downs Way over the Seven Sisters, a series of rolling chalk cliffs – the most well-known section of our day, and arguably the most spectacular. Some of the ascents and descents before us are steep and arduous, others more gradual, but with every climb our destination grows nearer and it’s not long before we can see it in the distance. The views over the sea are wonderful on a clear day and will encourage you to keep going!
Dipping right down to the abandoned National Trust hamlet of Birling Gap, with its nineteenth-century fishermen’s cottages clustered perilously close to the eroding cliffs, we climb again. We pass Belle Tout lighthouse and then make a last uphill effort to the top of Beachy Head. We’ve made it, and earned a powerful sense of achievement that will never leave us!
We have time to celebrate with our fellow participants and enjoy the views before returning home.