Looking to go long and take on a challenge walk this year? Here’s a group that can help you..

The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) is an active association of people who enjoy walking long distances in rural, mountainous or moorland areas. It has a jam-packed calendar of Challenge walks throughout the year right across the UK – and each one is really simple to sign on to. We spoke to the association’s David Holland to find out more.
What can a first timer expect from an LDWA challenge walk?
“A hard, long walk, in very good company, with food and drink and checkpoints every six miles or so, probably a light meal at the end, and definitely a certificate.”
How can you get involved?
“They’re nearly always pre-entered either by application form or electronically. There are normally no entrants on the day. It costs an average of £8-£12 to enter a 25-mile event.”
How many people usually participate?
“100-300 for normal events and 500 for our annual 100-miler.”
Does everyone start together?
“It varies. Sometimes all start together, say at 8am, but quite often there are alternative later start times for fast walkers/runners.”
How much navigation skill is involved?
“Almost every Challenge Walker will be given a written route description (with abbreviated words that take a little getting used to). Normally there is also a requirement to carry the local OS map. Recently it has become commonplace to provide GPX files for use with GPS receivers. Complexity of navigation varies greatly depending on terrain, weather and if any night walking is involved. Most first timers, with modest navigational experience would have little difficulty with a daytime Challenge Walk, in reasonable weather over easy terrain.”
Do you need to be a member to take part?
“Many entrants will be LDWA members but by no means everyone. Entry is open to all (although there are some pre-qualification restrictions for the longer events).”
How fit do you need to be?
“You will need a good level of general fitness and preferably do some walking so that you have some concept of what walking 25 miles or so will involve. But in no way do you have to be super athlete. Events have cut off times at checkpoints, normally based on a walking speed of 2.1-2.5 mph depending on terrain and length of the walk. Often “sweepers” are used. These are perhaps two people who stay at the back of the field to help any strugglers. Anyone failing to reach a checkpoint in time will be disqualified (in a nice way) and given a lift back to the base which is normally a village hall, school or similar.”
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Is it competitive?
“The ‘Challenge’ is up to the individual entrant. These are not races and no cups or prizes awarded. Just a Certificate to say that you completed it and probably the time you took. To some the Challenge is simply to finish. To others it is to go as quickly as possible and perhaps beat the time they did last year. The point is that you are challenging yourself not competing against others.”

The LDWA 100

Every year the Long Distance Walkers Association organises a 100-mile walk. Like all LDWA challenge walks, this is a continuous event (no stopping for sleeping!) with checkpoints and food.
“The fastest will probably do it in about 25 hrs but much depends on weather and terrain,” says David Holland. “There is a cut off time to finish in 48 hours. This means that the slower people will have been walking for two days and two nights. In a perverse way I admire them far more than the super fit athlete who can trot around in 25 hours still feeling fresh at the end.”