Do you need to get your horizontal and lifeless body off your sofa this year? Do you need to cease the endless TV re-runs and Netflix boxsets before your eyes go square and your bum goes saggy? Or, are you already super-active, simply looking to test your mind and perfectly sculptured body against some greater challenges in 2018? Whichever camp you fall into, whether you’re after a ‘new year, new me’ or a ‘new year, even greater me’; we have a selection of hiking challenges for you. Read on…
Do you like your hiking challenges to last you all year but want it flexible enough to take into account a variety of fitness levels? If so, the Walk 1000 Miles Challenge may just be for you. The beauty of this challenge is that it can be completed in whatever way you see fit. For example, if you haven’t exercised for some time or have other underlying issues, strap something like a Fitbit to your wrist and count every single step that you take over the course of a day. You may start by simply getting out of bed, going downstairs to make a brew, but you could end up outdoors with a new lease of life.
We took part in this in 2017 and loved it. For our miles to count we set ourselves the challenge of only counting ‘boots on’ miles in the great outdoors with the kids. However, you can choose to complete your 1000 miles however you want. Sign up today…
Another challenge that could last you all year is Trail Magazine’s Everest Anywhere challenge. As you may have guessed, the idea is to pledge to ascend the height of Everest during 2018. At 8848m, that’s some serious climbing, particularly if most of your terrain to date has been relatively flat. As with the first challenge, however, it’s a fantastic way to get outside and prompt yourself to tackle some new terrain. Given that the challenge is all about ascending, you’ll also be sure to burn off those extra pounds that you accumulated over Christmas.
If time is tight and you’re not quite ready to tackle more serious mountain terrain, why not consider the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge? As hiking challenges go, this is achievable to most people who have built up a good base level of fitness and have taken on a couple of long distance walks with some inclines built into them. Consequently, it’s certainly one that any level of walker could hope to achieve at some point during 2018. Taking in the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), the major challenge here is the 12-hour time limit. The distance of 24 miles is definitely one to be proud of, especially given the time constraints, and you’ll get to see some of Yorkshire’s finest landscapes as a result. What’s not to love?
The National 3 Peaks Challenge is well known throughout the UK. At 23 miles/37km in distance it may not be the longest in this line-up, but, with 3064m/10054ft of ascent, you’ll have stood upon the highest summits in England, Wales and Scotland all within a 24-hour timeframe. If you’re experienced there’s no reason why you couldn’t organise this yourself, in fact half of the challenge is the logistics of this one. However, if you’re new to mountains, be sure to research the many companies and professional guides who’ll get you up and down this popular challenge safely.
If you have a little more time on your hands, and your legs can withstand more prolonged and steeper ascents, why not aim to complete the Welsh 3000s Challenge? This is a considerable step up, so should only be attempted by the very fit and those with mountain experience. There are a variety of ways to conquer this challenge, the most popular being to summit each of the 15 Snowdonia 3000ft, over 3 days. However, experienced hikers have been known to attempt it in 24 hours, while crazily fit fell runners with a head for heights have completed it in far less time than that. This one contains mountains, ridges, arêtes, and will involve wild camping/bivvying if you’re attempting it over the traditional three days. What a hiking challenge though!
A further multi-summit hiking challenge to consider next year is the Lake District 24 Peaks Challenge. This is another tough one so please ensure that you have the requisite skills and fitness before embarking on it. Traditionally attempted over two days, you’ll be pitting yourself against over 31 miles/50 km of distance and over 13900ft/4200m of ascent. However, for those up to it, you’ll get to see some of the UK’s most gorgeous scenery and landscapes from the best possible vantage points.
If the thought of 4200m of ascent within a 48-hour period has you grimacing, you could consider a much flatter long distance challenge. The Sandstone Trail, in Cheshire, at 34 miles/55 km long, will still be sure to sap those muscles but, being relatively flat, will be more appealing to some walkers and hikers. Having done this trail myself, be sure to pick a long, summer day so that you can enjoy some of the most picturesque countryside in North-West England.
One that I am considering for 2018 is definitely the West Highland Way. At 96 miles/154 km in distance, it certainly falls into the multi-day challenge category, but if you can find the time to set aside, you’ll be passing the shores of Loch Lomond, exploring Glencoe and Glen Nevis before reaching your destination at Fort William. With those highlights, it’s pretty easy to see the appeal of this one!
Yet another long distance multi-day challenge is the Offa’s Dyke Path. Essentially covering the entire length of Wales, this 177 mile/285 km monster follows in the footsteps of King Offa of the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, who travelled along this trail during the 8th Century. Consequently, there will be lots of historical points along the way for the history buffs among you.
If 177 miles doesn’t put you off, possibly you’ll be up for taking on the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. Crossing the breadth of England, you’ll pass through three National Parks along the way. So if you’d like to explore the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors all within a few days of each other, this will be the one for you.
Taking on any of these hiking challenges will provide you with some testing but quality outdoor time. Of course, if you have any favourite challenges of your own, let us know what they are; we’re always looking for new ones.