Commit To Get Far

From 14-23 January complete 840 miles of Britain's most iconic national trail routes.

From Torquay to Hadrian's Wall, travel across Britain's famous trails and Commit to Get Far this January!

Your journey begins...

Torquay to Poole (104 miles)

Commit to Get Far starts in the English Riviera town of Torquay.  Leaving this bustling harbour, you will travel along scenic coastlines via Dartmouth, Brixham and Sidmouth.  You then enter the Jurassic coast, where the journey crosses 200-million-year-old rock, often bearing the fossilised remains of ancient sea creatures.  The path continues, taking in the beautiful Lulworth Cove and its ‘Fossil Forest’, but there is also an alternative route through one of the UK's most significant ceremonial landscapes: The South Dorset Ridgeway.  The South Dorset Ridgeway has monuments and landscapes that are over 6,000 years old and includes stone circles and Iron Age hillforts.  Whichever virtual way you choose, the stunning coastlines offers views of incredible wildlife, 200-million-year-old landscapes and beautiful beaches.  Once you reach Poole, it is time to head north to the start of the South Downs Way trail.

South Downs Way (100 miles)

The South Downs Way trail is one that most locals will be aware of, some may have already experienced the ups and downs of the trail personally.  It starts in Winchester, at the city mill, and follows rolling countryside and nature reserves on its way to Cocking Hill about 37 miles in.  The route then leads to the river Ouse, through more reserves; examples of bronze age burial mounds and a surviving roman road at Bignor Hill.  If you are feeling adventurous, a short detour south of Kithurst will give you sight of an old WWII Churchill tank.  The section into Southease and the river Ouse includes the iconic Devil's Dyke and the equally challenging Saddlescombe Farm climbs, before heading past the campus via Ditchling Beacon, Black Cap, Balmer Down and then onto the ridge and back down into Southease. 

Southease to Eastbourne is arguably the most challenging section of the trail as it takes you through Alfriston and Firle Beacon, Cuckmere Haven and Beachy Head.  The route splits at Alfriston; for those who are on foot or those who are on two wheels, with the footpath taking you via Seven Sisters and the cycle route via Jevington.  The footpath forms part of the Centurion Running South Downs Way 100 and the cycle is a popular challenge, with the fastest official times for both being 14hrs 3mins for the runners and 7hrs 3mins for the cyclists.  Good luck and enjoy the views on the way.

Thames Path (184 miles)

The path starts from the Thames Barrier towards Putney, passing the O2 Arena and Rotherhithe - from where the Pilgrim Fathers departed to America in 1620.  Your journey then takes you along the river, giving you views of the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and London Bridge.  From Putney to Windsor the route joins up for a short time with the Grand Union Canal, which runs from Birmingham to London.  Still in the city, you will travel via some of London's parks, such as Richmond's Old Deer Park, and the famous Kew Gardens, before visiting Hampton Court Palace and the symbolic Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed in June 1215.  Finally through London, you will reach Windsor Castle and Eton College.

Once you leave Windsor the route passes through Henley, a well-known sporting location famed for the Henley Royal Regatta, a rowing event which is held there each year.  The path then travels north of Reading, before emerging in Oxford via Wallingford and Abingdon.  Heading towards the Cotswolds after this, you pass the oldest bridge on the Thames, at Radcot, as well as some interestingly named other bridges (Tadpole, Old Man's and Tenfoot). Once at Lechlade, there is a lovely toll bridge and a toll house by the name of Ha'penny Bridge, before the route takes you to Cricklade which dates back to Saxon times and boasts a very nice 12th century church.  The path finally finishes at the source of the Thames, which lies in a remote meadow beneath the boughs of an elderly ash tree.

Cotswolds Way (100 miles)

The Cotswold Way has only been a National Trail since 2007, after being first suggested by ramblers approximately 50 years prior. The start is at Bath Abbey, and is marked by a stone disc set into the pavement. It then leaves Bath and passes the famous Bath Racecourse and the site of the civil war Battle of Lansdown.

The next 15 miles passes through Hawkesbury and Wotton-Under-Edge, where the route allows for views of the Severn Vale, Horton Court (arguably the oldest vicarage in England) and medieval ridges. Then, Wotton-Under-Edge to Painswick offers some steep climbs and fantastic views. Just out of Wotton-Under-Edge, you will find a walled enclosure that surrounds trees planted in 1815, to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. Beautiful bluebell displays, views of the River Severn and an Iron Age hillfort are all on offer as the route drops in to Painswick.

It is now time for the famous cheese rolling event at Coopers Hill, where every May a 9lb wheel of Double Gloucester can reach up to 70 miles an hour, and the winner is the first person (or cheese) down the hill. The last section of the path grants views of the Malverns, a number of Iron Age hillforts and some challenging climbs.

Before descending into Chipping Campden the route passes Dover Hill, where the annual Olimpic games takes place; thought to have originated in 1612 after receiving royal approval from King James. The end of the Cotswold Way signals the start of our longest trail on the Commit to Get Far challenge, so rest up and travel north for the Pennine Way.

Pennine Way (268 miles)

Time for the longest trail in the series and the UK’s very first National Trail, the Pennine Way, which takes you across some of the UK’s finest landscapes before finishing close to the Scottish border. The route is also famous for an ultra-endurance event, the Montane Spine Race, which is running the week of the 13th January this year.

The lack of shops and amenities within the first 50 miles of the trail means it is a good idea to stock up on supplies at Edale.  This is especially important since the early part of the route includes its second-longest ascent to the top of Beaklow Head.

The poet Alfred Wainwright, who wrote much about the moors and the Pennine Way, declared that the first few days were always the worst part of the journey, which was notoriously difficult to navigate in bad weather. By Heptonstall Moor you are in Sylvia Plath and Brontë country, where the landscape brims with literary reference and reminiscence, as if the ghost of Heathcliff still walks the open planes. 

In Malham you will start the next section of the route, by Aire Gap; a corridor between the South Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. Here, you will enjoy Roman roads and old packhorse routes, as the trail becomes more isolated.  After the busier areas around Malham, empty trails are to be enjoyed. At Shunner Fell the route reaches it’s highest point and crosses the Coast to Coast Walk, which is sadly not included in the Commit to Get Far challenge.

Hurrah! You are at the half-way point, where there is an old Roman wall to follow; good practice for the final trail along Hadrian's Wall.

Waterfalls are now in plenty, as the route traverses the River Tees, described by Wainwright ‘as near perfection’. However, these are tough sections, with the route getting into the back stretch, with lots of climbs, and the need for waterproof clothing is a must, while temperatures get cooler and the conditions, wetter.

The Pennines finish on the route at Round Hill and Wain Rigg, as the path follows in the footsteps of Roman soldiers amidst great views of Hadrian’s Wall.  For the last 30-40 miles bog-hopping skills are required, but there are also heathery moors with great views. The last section of the route tests your stamina, with many hills and some sticky bogs, as the route descends in to the border town of Kirk Yetholm, which lies 1 mile from the border.

Next up Hadrian's Wall.

Hadrian's Wall (84 miles)

The end of the challenge is almost in sight as you start the last trail from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend (the latter aptly named). Although this is the Hadrian's Wall Path, it has not been possible to walk the entire 80-mile length of the wall for over 1600 years, as much of it is in ruins.  It disappears completely at certain points, as modern roads run over the top, but through the ditches and landscapes it is possible to see where the wall once stood.  

The start of the route is generally forgiving, with very little undulation until we reach Walton, in Cumbria, where you will also find the first piece of upstanding wall. 

The route offers views to South Scotland and to the North Pennines, as it reaches a high point at Windshields Crag. From Windshields you will find a landscape of Roman camps and ditches, as the wall grows. 

The finish of the route is Wallsend in Tyneside, the birthplace of the ‘Father of the Railways’ George Stephenson.  Once you reach Wallsend you can finally rest and take a well-earnt break, you've come so far this January and we're very impressed!  Your postcard will be in the post soon.

A big hearty congratulations on reaching the end of the Commit To Get Far challenge!! 

Join us in our post-Christmas Commit to Get Far challenge

We are challenging staff to work together in teams to achieve the equivalent of 840 miles in 10 days.

To help get you started, we're providing University of Sussex staff with a free 10-day Sussexsport membership.

This year, just like in 2017 with our Lands’ End to John O’Groats route, we are not only encouraging teams but also individuals to take part.

To take part in the challenge

  • Sign up by emailing Sam Fuller by Wednesday 9 January.
  • Sam will email you with a team sheet which you should fill in and return to her as soon as possible.
  • If you would like a 10-day FREE Commit To Get Far membership please return your team sheet ideally before 4 January.
  • Membership will give you access to book badminton courts, table tennis, squash or any of the group exercise classes.  The membership also allows full access to both fitness rooms at the Sport Centre and the Falmer Sports Complex.
  • Contact us via email, Twitter or Facebook with a photograph representing the destination of your trail e.g. Poole Harbour, to let us know when you have reached a checkpoint.

Log your activities

You can use one of many supported popular wearable devices or smartphone apps (e.g. Fitbit, Strava, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness etc.), to track your miles. 

You can also manually record your activity and email us with your progress.

So register, invite friends, create a team of up to 10 people and motivate other staff across the campus to take part in this huge, but not impossible, challenge!

How is my activity converted to miles?

As usual for the annual Commit to Get Far initiative, the number of miles you cover will be calculated according to activity; walking, running, rowing and cycling (including indoor cycling) count as actual miles, so keep track of everything you do.  Other activities such as yoga, Zumba or swimming will get you one mile for every 15 minutes of activity. Complete an entire class and that will count as 4 miles! 

  • 1 mile = 1 mile
  • 15 minutes of activity = 1 mile
  • 1 hour of activity = 4 miles

Sussexsports' January timetable can be viewed here.