Signing up for an epic challenge to raise money for charity doesn’t have to mean running a marathon, climbing a mountain or fighting your office-mates. Charity walks are a more inclusive way to push your physical limits and raise cash.
That doesn’t mean they’re easy. In fact, if you opt for a longer distance walk of 100km they can be very challenging indeed. We tackled the 100km British Heart Foundation Glasgow to Edinburgh trek in 2018 and spending almost 27 hours on your feet with 20 minutes sleep is no joke, we can assure you. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll be on the move and the toll that takes on your feet. If you’re new to the long-distance walking game it might be wise to start with a marathon distance or a 50km.
It is, however, still an undeniably rewarding experience to conquer such an epic distance. And because you’ll be moving more slowly than when running or cycling, you can enjoy your surroundings and company far more. Based on our experience, your team-mates will be absolutely crucial to getting through the walk, so pick wisely.
Here are our picks for the best charity walks in the UK.
1. Macmillan Cancer Support Mighty Hikes (Various Dates)
There are eight different events to choose from in this series, each of which involves trekking the distance of a marathon in one of Britain’s most picturesque spots. In June there are walks along the Thames Path (9th) and Jurassic Coast (30th). There are four events in July, starting with a walk along East Sussex’s south coast from Brighton to Eastbourne (7th). Then it’s up to the Lake District (14th), followed by the Northumberland Coast (21st) and the Peak District (28th). The final two Mighty Hikes of the year take place in the Wye Valley (4th August) and along the Rob Roy Way through the Trossachs National Park in Scotland (1st September). You’ll notice all the walks are on different weekend so you could sign up for all of them, if you want to see eight amazing places and raise a ton of cash for a great cause. And really like getting blisters. £25 plus £250 fundraising, macmillan.org.uk
2. Walk For Parkinson’s (Various Dates)
This UK-wide series has walks for everyone. You’ll need to head to the Parkinson’s UK website to scan through when and where your local event is, since each of them puts on walks of different lengths. None of the hikes is very long though, so you can gather together a crew of all ages and fitness levels, and be sure that everyone will get through it together. £10 plus fundraising, parkinsons.org.uk
3. Thames Path Challenge (8th-9th September)
You can choose between 25km, 50km and 100km walks as part of this event, which starts at Putney Bridge. From there you follow the River Thames past Hampton Court and all the way out to Henley if you’re going the longest distance. The route is fully supported, with medics at rest stops to help care for your feet. You can pay for your place, or raise money for a partner charity to bring the cost of entry down. £30-£60 plus £175-£425 fundraising, or £75-£185 self-funded, thamespathchallenge.com
4. Shine Night Walk London (22nd-23rd September)
See the sights of London as you’ve never seen them before (unless you did the Walk50) by walking a half marathon or full marathon around the city centre at night. Cancer Research UK, which stages the event, reckons fast walkers will get through a marathon in around nine hours, while strollers will take 14. Make sure to bring glowsticks and don any neon clothing you own, because the aim is to light up the night. £34.99 plus fundraising, cancerresearchuk.org
5. British Heart Foundation London To Oxford Trek (11th-12th May 2019)
Start prepping now for this 100km challenge, which sends walkers along the Thames all the way from Staines on the western edge of London right to the heart of Oxford. You’ll be tackling a mix of terrains along the way, including muddy fields and a few small hills, but the biggest challenge to overcome is undoubtedly the massive distance and the time you’ll have to spend on your feet to cover it. £45 (early bird until 31st October 2018) plus fundraising, bhf.org.uk
6. Jurassic Coast Challenge (20th-21st July 2019)
You can enter the Jurassic Coast challenge without signing up to raise money for a cause, but if you’re going to walk 100km from Poole Harbour to Bridport, you might as well do some fundraising for one of the charity partners. There are also 50km and 25km walks available, but this is one where it’s definitely worth tackling the full distance so you get to see as much of the astounding World Heritage Site as possible. You can take on the distance in one go, or do the 100km in two stints so you’re always walking in daylight hours – the smartest pick for those looking to enjoy the views. Full details on the 2019 event will be announced soon. £TBC, jurassiccoastchallenge.com
7. Dimbleby Cancer Care Walk50 (TBC 2019)
The 50km in question is along the Thames, starting from St Thomas’ Hospital at Westminster Bridge and heading west to Hammersmith Bridge, where you turn around and walk all the way to the Cutty Sark and Greenwich Foot Tunnel. There you turn again to come back to the centre of London, finishing at Guy’s Cancer Centre at London Bridge. All of this is undertaken at night, so you can expect some eerily beautiful views of an empty(ish) London. If 50km is too much, there are also 25km and 12km walks available. Register on the website now to get info on the 2019 event when it is announced. £TBC, dimblebycancercare.org