The Ultimate UK Walking Challenge

UK Coastal Walk

Until recently I thought Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) was the toughest walking challenge the UK had to offer. It’s certainly very well known and I guess at least a dozen or so people walk it every year, along with many more who are doing it in stages over a number of years.

Earlier this year though I stumbled across an even longer, tougher and more extreme walking challenge you could do – the UK Coastal Walk. This is between 5000 and 7000 miles long, depending on the ‘rules’ you apply to your walk, how many ferries you allow yourself to take and so on.

I first came across this, when I saw a tweet (that’s a message on Twitter, for all non Tweeps out there) from a guy calling himself the Shoelace Express (his Twitter ID is @ShoelaceExpress). He started walking just three weeks ago – while we were still in the grip of winter and he plans to walk about 6000 miles over the next 300 days.

I have tremendous respect for this undertaking, it makes my LEJOG plans pale into insignificance. I did some more research and this is what I found:

Turn Right at Land's End

Turn Right at Land’s End

The walk was first undertaken in 1978 by a guy called John Merrill – he walked about 7000 miles, averaging 26 miles a day and carrying an incredible 60lbs of equipment on his back. He wrote a book about his journey – as anyone who’s done this absolutely should – it is called “Turn Right at Land’s End” (Amazon link embedded). I think this is out of print now, but you can still get it second hand from loads of places. It set the scene for people to follow him.

Other books on Amazon which cover the same walk include the following:

Two Feet, Four Paws – by Spud Talbot-Ponsonby

The Sea on Our Left – by Shally Hunt

There are probably others too, but I haven’t found them yet.

The popularity of the walk is increasing too – there are currently three people walking round the UK coastline as I write this and you can follow their progress live as they walk – thanks to modern communications this makes their progress interactive and you can leave them messages on their blogs, or on their Facebook page, or via Twitter. Details below:

Craig Adams – Website/Blog – Facebook PageTwitter ID

Tommy B – AKA Shoelace Express – Website/BlogFacebook Page – Twitter ID

Christian Nock – AKA Christian Around Britain – Facebook Page – Twitter ID

An additional walker, also walking the UK Coast, but currently on a winter break is John Rayment – he’ll be walking again in March

John Rayment – Twitter ID

They are all walking for worthy causes, so please give them whatever support you can, even if its only moral and message-based.

UK National Trails

While I’m on the subject of mammoth UK walks, this one appeals to me even more than the UK Coastal Walk – all 19 UK National Trails, in one go, walking between them!

Currently being undertaken by Roger Foreman, with his son.

He has already completed 13 of the 19 and is now on the Pennine Bridleway – his 14th successive trail since he started walking.

He estimates about 5500 miles for the whole trip, so not quite as long as the coastal walk, but certainly more varied in scenery and landscape I would have thought.

You can find him here: Website/BlogTwitter ID

Good luck to them all – and I wish I was out there with them!!

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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6 Responses

  1. hillplodder says:

    It really depends on how your shape is oriented! But I certainly agree that 8 points is better than 4. But then you may have to consider visiting the centre(s) of the shape too, while you’re at it. This sounds like something worth looking into for a multi-year walk – probably built into a LEJOG-JOGLE circuit. It’s unrealistic for me to look at doing something like that in one go, and not sure I’d want to. But as a serious of annual or semi-annual LDPs, that might be viable.

    • lonewalker says:

      Oh, I like the idea of adding centre points too!
      The route we should have been walking this weekend passes within a mile of (one of) the centre points of mainland GB (the Whitendale Hanging Stones).
      As I run out of long paths that interest me this challenge could take on a life of it’s own.
      How about adding high points too? Country high points would be easy enough, but if you consider adding County high points…… 🙂
      Right, I’m off to Memory Map to start planning this!

  2. alan.sloman says:

    Indeed it should, and one lady has already done so – It is a fabulous read.
    I met her when she was doing LEJOG at the same time as me, but she then went on a few years later to do the Eight Points Walk: Enjoy! Cahrlie’s 8 points of Britain Walk

    • lonewalker says:

      Thanks Alan, I’d not seen that one – some evening reading while the wife is watching cr@p on the TV 🙂

  3. Of course the other really long walk is the 4 corners – visiting the most northerly, southerly, easterly and westerly points of Britain (the mainland). That fits nicely in between the LEJOG and the others mentioned here – typically it’s around 2000 miles. You could also conceivably combine it with a LEJOG by starting at LE, visiting the most southerly point (Lizard), then cut up to Lowestoft, Complete the zig zag by heading for west Scotland, then up to Dunnet Head before popping the short distance along the coast to JOG. Or do a LEJOG-JOGLE circuit based around the 4 corners. There are a few well hidden blogs on the 4 corners, will try to dig them out for you.

    • lonewalker says:

      Technically (and we’re both pedants here, so I’m happy to do this…), the four corners would be South-westerly, North-westerly, North-easterly and South-easterly, three of which I’ve included in my LEJOG, along with Lizard Point, Dunnet Head and Duncansby Head – John O’Groats has no geographical significance at all in that respect 🙂

      The four compass points you mention would be a good walk and should be combined with the four corners really 🙂

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