Outdoor writer and mountain leader Dan Aspel picks five of the best one or two-day walking challenges to test yourself this summer.
To those that know the 10 Tors challenge, this might seem an odd inclusion. It is, after all, a British Army-organised May-time event open only to six-strong teams of teenagers. It’s limited very strictly to just 2,400 overall competitors too. But forget all that, because the format’s such a pleasingly simple one that it’s easy to steal and replicate yourself. www.visitdartmoor.co.uk
Get yourself to Dartmoor, pick 10 of your favourite tors that you think lie within a realistic distance of each other and get going. You could set yourself a 24hr limit as in the official event, or stretch it over a weekend and involve a wild camp along the way (it’s legal across much of the National Park). Whichever you do, bear in mind that the distances in the official challenge vary from 56km to 89km. This is quite a leg stretcher.
Although one of the more modestly sized Lake District valleys, Langdale is also amongst the shapeliest and most accessible too. Just beyond Ambleside you’ll find its feast of rounded pikes, scenic tarns and towering summits, and the Langdale 10 makes a superb circuit for the ambitious fell bagger. It takes in (you guessed it) 10 distinct and characterful tops in a route which surpasses 24km in length and 1,700m in ascent. That makes it considerably more physical an undertaking that climbing, say, Ben Nevis from sea-level - and means it’s not to be underestimated. The best route is to head up Bowfell from the valley bed, curve round Esk Pike, over to Harrison Stickle (tagging the summits en route) and then attempting the circle of peaks between it and High Raise. You’ll be in need refreshment at the Old Dungeon Ghyll or Sticklebarn by the time you’re done. www.lakedistrict.gov.uk
The Yorkshire Three Peaks is an absolute classic of a walk, which - in its 39km of grand moorland yomping - sums up the unique grandeur of this brisk and occasionally brutal part of the world. Unfortunately though, it’s no secret. So, if you plan to tackle the route on a bank holiday weekend, you should expect to be part of a vast exodus of charity challengers determinedly attempting the same thing. However, despite that, it still remains one of the great walks in the British Isles. The goal is to summit the architecturally disparate peaks of Pen-y-Ghent (694m), Whernside (736m) and Ingleborough (723m), passing the great landmark of Ribblehead Viaduct and (with a small optional diversion) the geological oddity of Hull Pot on the way. Completing the route in under 12hrs is possible for most fit walkers, and if you’d like proof of your achievement make sure to clock in out of your attempt at the Pen-y-Ghent cafe in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. www.threepeakschallenge.uk/yorkshire-three-peaks-challenge
There are few challenges that will not only stretch the most grizzled of walkers, but the Lake Wake is one such walk. Cross the breadth of a National Park, meeting scarce few others, and - on completion - be admitted membership to a select and elite society. What makes this challenge so meaty is the goal to cross the heathery expanses of the North York Moors National Park - a distance of some 64km - within a 24hr period. You may choose to cross west to east or east to west (most choose the former), and a successful attempt will see you earn the title “Dirger” (male) or “Witch” (female). Rack up more crossings and you may even become a “Master/Mistress of Misery” or a “Doctor of Dolefulness”. Discover more of this free-to-join society - and their barmy hobby - at www.lykewake.org
There are 15 peaks in Wales that reach the conveniently round figure of 3,000ft in height (although for my fellow metric users it’s a disappointing 914.4m, I’m afraid). Whichever way you measure them, though, when all tied together they make for a 24hr mountain push anyone will be proud to have achieved. The total distance between the summit of Snowdon and the tip of Foel Fras - an outlier of the Carneddau to the north - is around 42km with around 3,000m of ascent dividing the two. Given that you’re also going to be tackling the knife-edged ridge of Crib Goch and the shattered summits of the Glyderau, this is absolutely not a challenge to be taken lightly. Most that attempt it fail. Those that are suitably experienced and well-prepared may manage it in as little as 18hrs. www.welsh3000s.co.uk
Main image: A group of hikers heading to Crib Goch, Snowdonia National Park, Wales/Credit: Getty
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