Over recent years the popularity of Challenge Walks has grown massively. These are organised walks (which some people run) where participants make their way through the countryside over varied distances.
Many of the walks start from around 13 miles in length with a number stretching up to marathon distance, but remember these are not flat walks, often they can go over mountain tops. During the event participants go through ‘checkpoints’ to collect evidence (usually having a card punched) that they have completed the course.
Shepherds Walks, who are based in the heart of Northumberland, have been running these events for a number of years now. Jon Monks the owner of Shepherds Walks said ‘It is amazing how many people are coming along to these events, with many of the events having over 250 participants. The atmosphere during these events is second to none; with all our finishers getting limited edition T-shirts after finishing the challenge walk’.
In 2012 Shepherds Walks have four challenge walks including a 13 mile Cragside Challenge Walk which starts and finishes at the National Trust property near to Rothbury. A greater challenge is an epic 26.2 mile linear walk down the Northumberland Coast. This linear walk takes in the most famous section of the Northumberland Coastal Path and with transport being provided to get participants to the starting point it is a massive event in its own right. These walks are complemented by an 18 mile St Cuthbert’s Way Challenge which starts in Scotland with walkers making their way back crossing over the Border Ridge into England and then the year is rounded off in September with the 25.2 mile Kielder Challenge Walk, which passes around Kielder Reservoir.
Each of the challenge walks also enables participants, if they so wish, to raise money for either their own or the official charity of each of the events. In 2011 over £22,000.00 was raised for the official charities, plus many more pounds by those people who raised money for charities close to their heart.
People come from all over the country and last year the Challenge Walks brought people from overseas especially for these events. Many people come into the area and make a weekend of it, so they have got plenty of time to savour the other qualities of the region.
With the start of the year upon us and many people looking for a new challenge for 2012 it is certainly worth looking at.
You can find out more at www.shepherdswalks.co.uk/events or call Shepherds Walks on 01830 540453 and they will post you more information.