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 and more relaxed way to push your physical limits and raise cash.
That doesn’t mean they’re easy. Many charity walks span significant distances and covering 50km or 100km by any non-motorised means is no easy feat. The training schedule, however, will be less intense, and with speed less of a priority on the day you can enjoy your surroundings and company far more than in a running event.
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. Dimbleby Cancer Care Walk50 (15th-16th June)
The 50km in question is along the Thames, starting from St Thomas’ Hospital at Westminster Bridge and heading westto 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 to finish 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. £15 plus £300 fundraising, dimblebycancercare.org
4. The Balmoral Challenge (22nd-23rd June)
This team walking event has three different challenges for you and your companions to consider tackling. The first is the Triple Crown, a 30km trek to Balmoral Castle over three Munros (mountains over 3,000ft/914m) from a secret start point. The second is the Prince’s Stone, which can be anywhere from 20km to 40km long because your team must find as many checkpoints as possible by exploring the Balmoral Estate and get back to the castle within nine hours. The final walk is the Cairn Chaser – a 15km route around the local cairns. All the walks support military charity Walking With The Wounded. £50pp until 28th February, £55pp after, teams of four, wwtw.org.uk/balmoral
5. Yorkshire 100K (23rd-24th June)
This trek is not for the faint-hearted. The overnight slog through the North Yorkshire countryside is expected to take participants between 24 and 30 hours to complete. It’s a pretty slog, though: the walk starts and finishes in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and loops around Harrogate in between, taking in Ripley Castle and the extraordinary formations of Brimham Rocks en route. The event raises money for Blind Veterans UK and it can be tackled solo if you don’t want to be slowed down by your dead weight friends, in a team of five if you think you’ll need some friends to jolly you along, or as a relay if you want to split the distance between four friends. From £60 plus £300 fundraising, blindveterans.org.uk/100k/yorkshire
6. London To Brighton 100K (7th-8th July)
The capital-to-coast walk passes through both the North and the South Downs, and it’s hardly any less picturesque in between, with country lanes and small villages the order of the day. The walk – which raises money for Blind Veterans UK – starts from Hammersmith and Fulham Rugby club on Saturday morning, which, depending on how fast you go, should give you some time to recover on the beach come Sunday afternoon. As the event takes place in July, you’ll hopefully be treated to a little sun on your trip to the seaside. From £75 plus £300 fundraising, blindveterans.org.uk/100k/london-to-brighton
7. Walk The Night (14th July)
This night walk around the centre of London raises money for both Breast Cancer Care and Prostate Cancer UK. You can opt to cover a half or full marathon distance, with both walks starting and finishing in Granary Square near King’s Cross station. In between, the routes wind around the capital to pass as many landmarks as possible. Walkers set off at 8pm so you’ll still have a couple of hours of summer sunlight to enjoy. £45, plus £199 fundraising, dream-challenges.com
8. Jurassic Coast Challenge (21st-22nd July)
You can enter the Jurassic Coast challenge without signing up to raise money for a charity, but if you’re going to walk 100km from Poole Harbour to Bridport, you might as well do some fundraising as well for one of the charity partners. There are also 50km and 25km walks available, but this is one where it’s definitely worth taking on 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 walkers looking to enjoy the views. £60-£80 plus £425 fundraising, jurassiccoastchallenge.com
9. British Heart Foundation Glasgow To Edinburgh Trek (21st-22nd July)
See both of Scotland’s largest cities, and everything in between, by trekking from Glasgow to Edinburgh via the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift that everyone should visit in their lifetime because it’s just tremendous. You have 30 hours to complete the 100km trek, or you can opt for a shorter day 41.5km walk from Glasgow to the Falkirk Wheel. £30-£55 plus fundraising, bhf.org.uk
10. 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