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. Walk All Over Cancer (March)
This Cancer Research UK event simply asks you walk an average of 10,000 steps-a-day every day in March, wherever you are in the UK. You can opt to do this by ensuring you reach the mark every day or, and we’re definitely not saying this is the smarter choice, kick back for 30 days and then attempt to rack up 310,000 steps on 31st March. Based on the average person’s stride, Cancer Research UK suggest you will need to cover 150 miles – the distance between London and Manchester – to do this. A handy nugget to deploy when fundraising. Free, fundraising encouraged, cancerresearchuk.org
2. Sport Relief The Nation’s Billion Steps Challenge (17th-23rd March)
If you want a shorter test of your stepping prowess, download the Sport Relief app (App Store, Google Play) to contribute to (hopefully) a billion steps a day nationally throughout Sport Relief week. Steps can be counted with the accelerometer on your phone or by linking to a fitness tracker, and you can take on the challenge as a team or harness the competitive spirit by setting up a league table. You can raise money by soliciting sponsorship, and we like the idea of penalty donations for the lowest totals. Free, fundraising encouraged, sportrelief.com
3. 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
4. The Cumbrian Challenge (18th-19th May)
One of two walking events hosted by military charity Walking With The Wounded in 2018, this team challenge in Cumbria has three options depending on how hardy you’re feeling. There’s the 16km Peak walk, where you scale just one peak, the 23km Tough walk up three peaks, or the 29km Tougher walk which tops four. You’ll meet and walk with wounded ex-service men and women, and every team that enters helps support one wounded veteran towards independence. £70pp, teams of four, wwtw.org.uk/cumbria
5. British Heart Foundation Hadrian’s Wall Hike (20th May)
You don’t have to walk the whole 135km length of the wall, let’s just clear that up right from the off. There are two lengths available – nine and 15 miles (14.5/24km), both of which finish at Housesteads Roman Fort. That’s more or less in the middle of the wall, so if you do feel like more walking, you can always head on to either coast self-supported. £20-£30 plus fundraising, bhf.org.uk
6. 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
7. 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
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