We all enjoy country walks and hikes ‘ it is good exercise, good for the outlook and a great way to waste a day off of work. Sometimes though, we want something that will test our mettle and a walk in the park just isn’t enough. For the more seasoned walkers there are hills and mountains and valleys, but even then you might want something a little more challenging. You have to go to the ends of the earth to find the walkers equivalent of the white knuckle rollercoaster.
1. Trift Bridge, Switzerland
Stretching between two beautiful and impressive mountains in the Swiss Alps with stunning views across a mountain valley with a lake, the bridge is the longest footbridge in the world. It leads up to the Trift glacier, a natural feature that attracts in the region of 20,000 visitors every year. The present bridge was constructed in 2009 in the space of six weeks. For those who do not have a head for heights, there is a lift to take visitors into the mountains.
2. Angel’s Landing, Utah
This natural rock formation of a steep rocky climb was almost impossible to scale without rock climbing equipment but now there is a zigzag walkway allowing walkers to get to the top and experience those spectacular views without requiring years of climbing training. But it isn’t for the weak of heart ‘ it is 2.4 miles which would be a manageable distance on the flatter and slight inclines of the early part but the trail finishes with 21 steep switchback paths.
3. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
The first on our list to claim to be the world’s most dangerous walkway, this certainly isn’t for the weak of heart. It is just one metre wide and scales around the edge of a gorge. It was built to facilitate the building of a dam at the beginning of the 20th century but adrenaline seekers have made it a rite of passage for extreme hikes. However, it is presently closed to the pubic after being closed in 2009. It will be reopened in 2014 after local governments agreed to share the cost of restoration and safety improvements.
4. Huashan Trail, China
Recommended only for seasoned rock climbers, the path is a trail along the Qinling mountain range leading to the lowest peak. In places it is little more than a wooden plank eighteen inches wide. There is a sheer drop in places meaning a wrong footing could be disastrous. A chain along the route is the only safety feature but in recent years, attempts have been made to make it safer with wider paths and railings. There is also a cable car for those who do not wish to take their lives into their hands.
5. Keshwa Chaca, Peru
The Inca people lived in the mountains of Peru and due to the terrain had no roads and did not need or use wheeled vehicles. Rope bridges were the normal way to cross the mountains. Keshwa Chaca or Qeswachaka is known to be the final remaining Incan rope bridge in existence. It spans the Apurimac River near Huinchiri and though there is a modern bridge nearby, the locals stick with their ancient traditions. It has also become an attraction for extreme hikers.
6. Yosemite Half Dome, California
Despite being considered a straightforward climb, even seasoned walkers are blindsided by the conditions of this hike. Casualties suffer dehydration, altitude sickness and exhaustion. It starts in the forests of the valley and its end is steep cliff ‘ the titular half dome ‘ that opens to spectacular views across the valley. The final steep 400ft has steel cables to use as hand holds to aid the climber reach the top. The hike could be done in one day but many choose to make a two day trip and camp overnight.
7. Snowdon Horseshoe, UK
Lauding itself as the most challenging hill and mountain walking experience in the UK, it has spectacular views of mountains and valleys alike. Due to the nature of the changeable British weather, it is advisable not to do the walk in the winter. Though only a seven mile hike, there are precarious drops and dramatic changes in weather making it most certainly not for the weak of heart. There is a knife edge ridge that is not for those with a fear of heights and it should be avoided when the wind picks up.
8. Hussaini Bridge, Pakistan
Without doubt the most dangerous in the world, this rope and plank construction crosses a torrential river as the only footbridge linking Gilgat-Baltistan with the rest of Pakistan. Though roads now link the areas, the bridge remained through tradition and to attract adrenaline junkie tourists. Winds mean that the bridge sways most of the time. A concerning number of planks have fallen away and the bridge is in a poor state of repair ‘ and it is also one of the longest footbridges (but not the longest as that goes to Trift) in the world.
9. Mount Pinatuba, Philippines
This two day trek is an absolute must and considered one of the best volcano trails in the world. It is 2.5 miles up the smooth crater edge with no way of easing the journey. The steep, smooth and regular nature of the volcano makes it a tough walk even for seasoned hikers. Once you arrive in the crater, the beauty is well worth the walk. Hot sand and cold water means that a swim in the crater is a must do experience. It is also an active volcano; its last eruption was in 1991.
10. Kalalau Train, Hawaii
A scene made famous by the hit series Lost, the trail is as adrenaline pumping as it is beautiful. A trail up the side of any mountain is never as deceptive as when you are trying to walk this one. Thousands of hikers every year are attracted to the ridge in order to visit one of the best beaches in the world. But in order to get to the beach, you must earn it. The climb up Kalalau is eleven miles long. Parts of the trail are unstable; some areas are dangerously thin and with the damp weather can get very slippery.
Sometimes, a good workout can give us the adrenaline boost we need for a few days. Sometimes, we seek something more dangerous ‘ the trip of a lifetime where the threat of injury or death is itself part of the attraction. The rewards are often breath-taking views, spectacular experiences or just the ability to proclaim to our friends and family ‘I did that’.