Walking is a fantastic and gentle way of exercising while enjoying the beautiful scenery that the UK has to offer. You can unwind and de-stress at the end of a hard day or a terrible week, and above all, it costs you nothing to do.
If walking has become a regular fixture in your life and you wish to take things up a notch, why not try a more strenuous walk that provides a real challenge over the course of several days?
Here are our top five most arduous walks, which range in levels of difficulty and duration, to bring you an idea of the challenges that are available on your very doorstep.
1. Coast to Coast
Starting from St. Bee’s Head in Cumbria, and ending in Robin Hood’s bay in North Yorkshire, the coast to coast walk offers dramatic and lush scenery in this 190-mile route.
With a coastline start and finish, you have the best scenery at your disposal for your initial set-off and eventual achievement. It is advised that you allow 12 days for this walk – reaching some of the highest ground in England – so that you can feel challenged without being exhausted.
2. The South Downs Way
This route is ideal for those who have little experience in long-distance walking, and provides well defined paths and signage to keep you on the right path.
The South Downs covers 99 miles from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, and can be completed, on average, in seven to nine days. Highlights include The Seven Sisters Hills, the 226ft Long Man of Wilmington and Beachy Head.
With some strenuous climbs to tackle, this will be a great first challenge with the benefit of great views across the English Channel towards France.
3. The South West Coast Path
Not for the faint-hearted, this path takes you on a 628.5 mile walk around the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall, incorporating parts of the Somerset and Dorset coastlines. This is not to be attempted unless you are incredibly fit and have the time to complete this six to seven week challenge.
This is an enormous coastal trek and you will need to plan it with care, especially if you wish to tackle the Lulworth-Kimmeridge coastal section and use the seasonal ferries. If you are starting from Minehead in Somerset and ending in South Haven Point in Dorset, then the best advice is to keep the sea on your right.
With many drops and climbs to overcome as you walk, it really helps that you have such beauty in the landscape around you. Highlights include the Valley of Rocks, Hartland Point and Tintagel Castle -where King Arthur is thought to have been born.
4. Glyndwr’s Way
Named after the 15th century King of free Wales, this walking route offers a rugged path through the centre of the remote mid-Wales countryside.
At 134 miles over eight or nine days, this is an arduous walk with exceedingly steep climbs in places. Although challenging, this walk is still very pleasant, offering views over the fine Welsh countryside as well as well-known landmarks such as Lake Vyrnwy, Beacon Hill and the market town of Machynlleth.
Starting in Knighton and ending in Welshpool, this route will take some detailed planning as, for some parts, there are no amenities to speak of for many miles.
5. The Pennine Way
Taking up to three weeks to complete, The Pennine Way is a considerable undertaking and is not for the long-distance walking novice.
Starting in Edale in Derbyshire, the route takes you on a direct 255 mile path to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish Borders. Traversing through some of the remotest upland terrain in the country, this is the oldest trail in the British Isles.
With such a diverse and interesting landscape along the route, you will be treated to a number of highlights, including Hadrian’s Wall, Great Dun Fell and the awesome falls of High Force. You are sure to find plenty of satisfaction from this walk as it is such a technically demanding route.
Katherine Weir is an avid writer of all things health, food and exercise related, writing in collaboration with Millet Sports. She is always on the look-out for new and exciting ways to explore the fantastic landscapes of the UK.