Friday, June 23, 2006

Tips for the Trip

Dos:
  • split the long 20 mile days into shorter days. The walks are tougher than you think, not because of the elevation gain or even the steepness, but because the trails have been deliberately strewn with rocks and stones to prevent trail erosion, which throws off your balance and makes you footsore.
  • Take rest days, especially if you’re planning any of the high options. We wouldn’t have been as willing to do the high options if we hadn’t had rest days scheduled after them. Richmond has enough to do that an additional rest day there would be welcome, but be aware: Richmond has no laundry facilities! In particular, if this is your first long distance walk, schedule a rest day early in Grasmere or Kirby Stephen so you have the chance to buy additional equipment should you need it!
  • Bring GPS, compass, and a trail map (and know how to use them --- it does take special effort to input waypoints for the GPS if you’re going to use it to navigate, so leave plenty of time before the trip to do this). The Ordance Survey #33 + #34s are supposed to be the best, but are now out of print, so an internet search might be necessary.
  • Bring gaiters in case it gets muddy.
  • Raingear is a must. Umbrellas are particularly useful since if you encounter a spell of hot weather (like we did), they serve as sunshade, and you’ll be the envy of other walkers.
  • Train for the trip.
  • Have an extra pair of socks in your backpack.
  • Have a cell phone handy. (Note that Keld actually has a payphone and cell phones don’t work there, so you’re probably likely to want to have some pocket change as well)
Don’ts:
  • do the entire trip in one go by the book unless you’ve got experience with other long distance walks and are confident that it’s what you want to do. We met others who wished they’d scheduled rest days, or extra days in particularly interesting areas.
  • Buy bag lunches. We tried them, and it’s way too much food. One bag lunch for two people would be sufficient. You definitely don’t get as hungry or as desirous of food hiking as you do cycling.
  • Expect signposts and mile markers. Especially in the National Parks, as they don’t exist.
  • Schedule B&Bs off the trail unless you’ve got a very good reason for them.
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