Wellbeing Wizard

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Written by Charles Davis   

The attractions of trekking on long distance trails are many and varied, ranging from a personal physical or spiritual challenge to a simple desire to experience nature more intimately.

Some trails, like The South Downs Way or GR221 in Mallorca, can be undertaken by any reasonably fit walker and completed within a week or less, while others, like The Pacific Coast Trail in the United States or the HRP linking the high peaks of the Pyrenees, are major expeditions involving great stamina and climbing or survival skills, and can take several months to complete. 

However, long distance trekking is by no means the preserve of strapping great supermen, or even of the very young and very athletic. Many retired couples celebrate their new found liberty by doing a long distance trek and some get so addicted they just keep on going.


Most long distance trails are plotted to visit villages en route so that trekkers will find accommodation and food at the end of each stage, and even those that traverse mountainous or wild terrain are generally served by manned refuges with restaurant and dormitory facilities. As a rule, established routes are well waymarked, so navigation is not a problem, but wilderness trekking should not be undertaken without careful planning, which is best done with the help of a dedicated guidebook to the trail in question.


One of the best ways to experience a long distance trail is to camp out in the wild, since this allows you to really enjoy the tranquillity and isolation that are among the activity’s main pleasures, though this inevitably means carrying more gear. Trekkers who are worried about carrying a heavy pack might consider one of the better established trails on which guided hikes and backpack transport services are available.

In either case, the essential rule is to travel as light as possible within the constraints of safety and comfort. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the first part of any long distance trek will always be the toughest, so don’t be discouraged if you’re going slower than anticipated or taking longer than planned to complete each stage.


Some trekking routes, like the ever popular Santiago Trails or the Ruta de la Plata through southern Spain, follow itineraries that are lent coherence by their historical importance as pilgrimages or trading routes.  Others, like the Appalachian Trail or the GRs10 & 11 that run along the length of the Pyrenees, seek to give a comprehensive picture of a single natural phenomenon, usually a chain of mountains but sometimes a specific coastline, as in the GR34 around Brittany, or the famous Devon and Cornwall Coastal Path.


Whatever their genesis though, and for whatever reason they are undertaken, trekking long distance trails tends to create a sense of timeless adventure, of going on a progress that soon comes to resemble a kind of pilgrimage, and there is a complicity amongst trekkers, an eagerness to share information and swap tales that gives a sense of what travel must have been like in the distant past.

There is no better way of getting into a landscape and away from commonplace cares, because after a few days, all that matters is what’s over the next horizon, what spectacle the next day’s walking will bring, and many trekkers end their journey with only one desire – to start all over again!

Other types of trekking you might wish to consider include jungle trekking, desert trekking, and winter trekking in mountains. If you're enthusiastic about any of these activities and would like to contribute to further articles please let us know.


Many thanks to the author Charles Davis for contributing this article.

His novels Walk On Bright Boy and Walking The Dog are available via amazon, as well as Bumping About Brittany and a selection of his other walking guides:

Walk Alpujarras Walk Andorra Walk Axarquia Walk Brittany
Walk Costa Blanca Walk Dorset Walk La Palma Walk La Gomera
Walk Lake District S Walk Mallorca N Walk Mallorca W  

Related Items: Walking for Wellbeing

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