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LDWA Frequently Asked Questions

What is the LDWA?

What makes a walk 'long distance'?

What sort of people are members? Are you all fanatics?

I'm new to walking. How do I get started?

Can I just come along to a walk or do I have to join first

What is a Challenge Walk?

What is an LDWA Group Social Walk?

I want to walk a National Trail or long distance path. What is there for me?

How did the LDWA start and develop?

Have we answered your question?


Q. What is the LDWA?

A. The LDWA is an Association of people with the common interest of walking long distances in rural, mountainous or moorland areas. We are also the governing body for long distance walking recognised by Sport England.


Q. What makes a walk ‘long distance’?

A. We think that any walk over 20 miles counts as a long distance walk but many Challenge Events and our Group social walks offer shorter alternatives if you are just getting started.


Q. What sort of people are members? Are you all fanatics?

A. Anyone can join who has an interest in long distance walking. We have lots of experienced walkers and plenty of newcomers as well. You don’t have to be a fanatic to enjoy our walks. We do have some members who zoom round walks at lightning speed but there are plenty of others who like to take their time. Our Challenge Events usually have generous time limits to allow even a slower-paced walker to finish.


Q. I'm new to walking. How do I get started?

A. Come along on a Group social walk or try a shorter Challenge Event. There will be plenty of people on hand to give you good advice. Find our events here.


Q. Can I just come along to a walk or do I have to join first

A. You don’t have to be an LDWA member to take part in a Challenge Event, although it usually saves you some money so it’s worth joining if you plan to do several events.

You may want to try a few Social Walks before you join. It’s usually worth contacting the walk leader in advance to let them know you are coming. You will be welcome and there is no fee. They are listed online here.


Q. What is a Challenge Walk?

A. A Challenge Walk is an organised walking event with a set route and checkpoints on the way round. These are usually at least 25 miles but some offer shorter versions too. Most Challenge Walks have route descriptions to help you find your way. You will find regular checkpoints normally every 5 miles or so where you will be given refreshments and a chance to rest if you need it. Events differ so check what is on offer.

LDWA Groups organise events and so do other organisations like scouts and charities. We list both. LDWA Challenge Walks are open to non-members but usually cost more than for members. If you plan to do several Challenge Walks then why not join us – you will soon save your subscription?


Q. I’m a bit new to walking and I don’t know if I could keep up with everyone else. Can I do a challenge walk?

A. The “challenge” is a personal one; it is not a race. You walk at your own pace and can stop for rests at checkpoints. If you think you can manage the distance then why not give it a go?


Q. What is an LDWA Group Social Walk?

A. An LDWA Group social walk is a day walk led by a member of one of our local groups. Everyone walks together and follows the leader so there is no need to navigate. These are usually about 20 miles and walked at a fairly moderate pace, though you will find it brisker than you may be used to while your stamina improves. You may need to take a packed lunch or at least some snacks and plenty of water with you. The leader will decide where to stop on the day, usually at elevenses, lunch and mid-afternoon.

Some local groups also offer shorter evening walks in the summer. Why not contact them and find out.

Some groups organise overnight walks and longer walks, useful for training for night and endurance events.


Q. What should I wear?

A. Wear what you would normally wear for a day’s walk. Some Challenge Events have kit lists, in which case you should make certain you have everything on that list with you on the day.


Q. I want to walk a National Trail or long distance path. What is there for me?

A. Have a look at our very extensive Long Distance Paths section. This contains information on all sorts of paths, including National Trails, as well as details of books and maps to help you on your route. It’s a one stop shop for trailwalkers. There are more FAQs about LDPs in this section.


Q. How did the LDWA start and develop?

A. Since its formation in 1972 (founders Chris Steer and Alan Blatchford) the LDWA has grown steadily from 355 members to over 7,000 at present. That growth, recognition in 1985 as the Governing Body for Long Distance Walking and becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee in 1999 have not prevented the LDWA retaining the feeling of a family of diverse individuals united by a common interest in long distance walking.

The Newsletter, containing details of challenge walks throughout the country, was also started in 1972, became Strider in 1977 and is now a 100-page journal, published in April, August and December each year, with a print run of 7,000.

Local Groups are the life-blood of the Association, running led walks and other social events, organising Challenge Walks and running checkpoints on the Annual ‘Hundred’. The first Group was formed in 1973, also the first year of the ‘100’, and there are now 44 spread across the UK - although rather thinly in Scotland and there is no group so far in Northern Ireland.

Each Spring Bank Holiday Weekend sees our ‘flagship’ event, which entails walking 100 miles in 48 hours, being held in a different area (2003 West Yorkshire, 2004 Exmoor, 2005 The Chilterns, 2006 Northumberland, 2007 Mid-Wales, 2008 West Yorkshire, 2009 Wessex, 2010 Heart of Scotland, 2011 Shropshire) with the Local Group playing a leading role as organisers and other Groups ‘mucking-in’.

The first edition of the Long Distance Walkers’ Handbook was produced by Barbara Blatchford and published in 1980. The seventh edition was published in 2002 and this comprehensive Directory had details of over 600 Long Distance Paths. The task of preparing that edition for publication was undertaken by five volunteers. In 2009 a new directory, called the UK Trailwalker’s Handbook, was published in conjunction with Cicerone.  The item is now out of print and stocks are no longer available.

Similarly the Local Group Committees are composed of volunteers as is the National Committee of 12 members elected at the Annual General Meeting, held in a different part of the country over a weekend in March and including a choice of social walks.


Q. Have we answered your question?

A. Each section of this website contains separate Frequently Asked Questions pages, so if you haven't found what you want here please try one of the following:

If you still cannot find the answer to your question then please contact the relevant member of the National Committee.