Cleveland Way

There is so much joy to be had with a long distance walk...

Across the centuries, people have turned to long distance walks whether in search of inspiration, spiritual enlightenment, to regain perspective on life or simply to help combat insomnia. Who knew that Charles Dickens once clocked up 30 miles on a nocturnal ramble because he couldn’t sleep?

So with that in mind here are four great reasons to set out on a long walk:

The sense of achievement

There’s a reason why so many charities hold long distance walking events – it’s because that while they are certainly a challenge, with grit and determination they are achievable for many people.

Over the years we’ve seen the elation, the bursting with pride and the ‘high-fiving’ that comes with completing an epic distance – whether it’s accomplishing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in under 12 hours or the week-long 96-mile West Highland Way from Milngavie just north of Glasgow to Fort William.

West Highland Way

The friendships that arise

As a walking group clocks up the miles, there’s a more profound sense of comradeship and bonding that’s forged.

At different times during a long distance walk everybody can experience a dip in energy or feel a bit overawed by the challenge ahead. This is when the rest of the group comes into its own – whether it’s dishing out the jelly babies, providing words of encouragement or simply chattering away on some topic or other that distracts thoughts of aching limbs.

Oh the conversations we’ve been a party to on our trips such as the Hadrian’s Wall epic which we remember led to a bout of distinctly dodgy joke-telling; contemplative discussions about life wearing a Roman tunic, and some more earnest meaning-of -life talks.

Hadrian Wall Walking Weekend

Connecting more deeply with the surroundings

A long distance walk also enables you to get a deeper appreciation of an area both from the point of view of the scenery and its cultural heritage.

For instance this year’s Ullswater challenge enables you to capture every aspect of the achingly beautiful surroundings of one of the Lake District’s finest stretches of water.

Alternatively there’s the 22-mile Edale skyline hike in the Peak District where there’s a mix of ancient Roman roads, gritstone edges, an iron age settlement, weird rocks and a stunning ridge walk – all packed into one day!

Ullswater Way

Turning simple things into delightful wonders

Lastly, it’s the seemingly simple things which become delightful wonders during, and after, a good old day’s marching.

It could be devouring a whopping but guilt-free portion of pie along the way or stopping for a breather at a view that suddenly makes it all seem worthwhile.

Or how about at the finish when you’re actually savouring the first pint that you were dreaming about so many miles before or that moment when you can finally take your boots off and wriggle those toes – truly delightful!

This is partly why we’re a bit excited about one of this year’s new challenges, the Castle to Abbey along a stunning stretch of North York Moors National Park coastline. Not only is there a free pint of beer at Whitby Brewery in the lee of the Abbey for all finishers, but the coastal route passes many a fine tearoom so knowing you’re walking the miles means you don’t need to be skinny on the cake!

Walking the Cleveland Way

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