Walking Challenges

September 25, 2012

I think most of us like a purpose to whatever we are doing in life whether it is just working to earn a crust, completing the housework or finishing a book (try the Conn Iggulden series on Genghis Khan, fascinating). I think this becomes more relevant when we are pursuing an out of work interest, such as climbing or walking, when the enjoyment is enhanced when there is a purpose at the end of it. In simple terms this may mean getting to a summit cairn, visiting the beautiful waterfall or just completing a new walk; however it may also mean ‘moving on’ to the next big thing.

The next big thing is often to complete as many walks within striking distance of home and then look to expand a little. Expansion can involve weekend breaks to a more rural location or just hopping in the car (or bike) to get a bit further away. I have always said that all walks are good, just some are better than others (or done in better weather) but a new walk does add something and certainly, if there is a choice of a new walk that I have not done before, or one I have done before then I tend to enjoy the new one. Recently, for example, I have spent a lot of time in the Cumbrian Pennines and the element of surprise adds a lot much to the pleasure and the challenge.

However many walkers are looking for something more than just a new walk, many start off by becoming ‘tickers’ – rock climbers for example look for new ‘lines’ on a rock face, fell walkers look for extra tops to complete and normal walkers just look for somewhere different to walk. Someone asked me the other day to do a wheelchair friendly/push chair friendly list of walks because they were bored with the Bolton Abbey trail. Variety and choice helps the walker, any walker!

Personally climbing the Wainwright’s and the Munros (with their associated Tops) have dominated my walking steps until a few years ago. Then I set up the Where2walk website with the primary purpose of the site becoming the best resource for all walkers to use. There are now over 300 walks on the site with new ones being added all the time but there are not just walks, there is different sections of Places to Stay, information on the best walking areas, all taken from a walker’s perspective and there are other walking challenges.

Long distance trails/footpaths are one area of walking that is becoming increasingly popular. Following a long distance footpath from beginning to end is immensely satisfying but so too is dipping in and out of a long walk. They are now well waymarked (signposted), challenging, involve planning yet suitable for most walkers whether you want to walk 20 miles a day or less than 10. I was also pleased to see that the Coast to Coast is now officially recognized as a long distance trail! If I had the time I would certainly do more and ultimately walk the length of the country; the so called End to End.

Of course the purpose of a walk may not be a summit or just because it is a new area, it may be something different, something more satisfying and worthy. I was struck the other day by the story of volunteers climbing Scafell Pike and clearing the rubbish from the disgusting summit area (well done ladies).  I am always impressed by the Volunteers out repairing footpaths and repairing stiles, all working just for the pleasure of being out and about in the outdoors and helping others enjoy it.

Alternatively there is no reason why anyone should not try and improve their mountain skills, take a map and compass course (there is one near Settle in the next few weeks) or even go out and become a Mountain Leader – possibly the most satisfying (and a times stressful) things I have done.

Finally I do not want to decry anyone who is happy to walk the same paths and take in a favourite peak or view (I have climbed Blencathra over 30 times and never tire of it) but there is so much out there I would urge anyone to try something new.


Previous Posts:

Volunteers run the show. How they help keep the National Parks alive and well

Hats & Cairns. The satisfactions of climbing a good sized hill

10 Dales Favourites. Some of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales

10 Lakeland Classics. A list of my favourite 10 full day walks in the Lake District

Walking Holidays. Choose a walking holiday in the Lakes or the Dales, many choices.

Buses & Trains . Save on cost and hassle by looking at the Buses and Train options

Why go walking? Many good reasons to get off your backside and get out and about

Fell Top Assessors. What do they do and how are they funded

Windfarms – simply no need. As wind farms continue to be built why are we doing it?

Inspired by Autumn Watch? Some photography of animals in the countryside and the pleasures of limestone walking

Extending the National Parks. Views and news on the decision to extend the national parks of the Lakes & Dales

Using a map to navigate. Why using a map and compass adds so much to a good walk.

Walks for the family. How to educate your children to enjoy the great outdoors.

Away from the Crowds. Some tips and suggestions on where to still find peace and solitude when many walks are crowded out.

My favourite villages in the Dales. The villages in the Yorkshire Dales which are extra special.

Delighting in photos. Why it is so easy to enjoy photography these days.

More than just a walking heaven. Different reasons why people take to the fells and dales.

Watch out for the little blighters. Sheep ticks continue to be a growing menace.

Map Reading Skills on the decline. Impact of new technology on traditional navigation.

Hidden Yorkshire Dales. The joys of walking in my favourite lesser known dales.

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