Wild Walking UK

Land’s End to John O’Groats preparations

I am planning to walk the length of the country, to see if it’s possible to wild camp every night. I’m starting on Monday 18th February (my wife’s work commitments allowing!) so there’s 3 weeks to go.

Gear choices

Most of my time is being spent on deciding which gear to take, and weighing absolutely everything. Even my pants, much to my family’s amusement. Less so my wife’s, as I’m using the kitchen scales…

As I’m going to be camping rough for an extended period of time and unlikely to be able to dry anything, I need gear that will be warm even when it’s wet. I’ve decided to avoid synthetic insulated jackets – although they’re warm, they are too heavy when wet. So I’m concentrating on natural fibres like merino wool and down. See my gear list page for more detail on the specifics.

Boots or trail shoes? 

I can’t make my mind up on which boots to take. My options are full-on Gore-tex walking boots (Scarpa R-Evolution GTX), trail shoes (Altra Lone Peak 4.0) or Inov8 Roclite 325 trail shoes. First world problems, I know, but each option has its pros and cons.

My feet will be warmer in the Scarpa boots, but they are twice the weight of both the Altra Lone Peak and Inov8 trail shoes. Both brands of trail shoes are much nicer to walk in as they are lighter, and I’m less likely to get blisters, but they will wear out sooner. This means I won’t have the good tread left on them that I need when I get to Wales.

I am considering a boot re-supply point when I arrive in Wales, or even carrying both – using one pair on roads (when it doesn’t matter if the tread wears), saving the boots for the rough ground. This is extravagant for a lightweight hiker, but it might solve a problem.

This leaves the choice of Altra Lone Peak or Inov8. Altra Lone Peak are lined with eVent, which I think breathes better than Gore-tex. This means my feet will be dry and warmer. However, the Inov8 trail shoes don’t have a waterproof lining. This means I can choose whether to wear Gore-tex socks with them. This becomes really significant in warmer weather, as I can stop my feet sweating as much they would in a lined trail shoe or boot.

Route planning

Route planning has been much lower in my priority list than gear! I’m trying to plan the most interesting and remotest route through, but I need to flexible to account for the weather. I use a GPS (Tough Phone Defender Pro – best bit of kit I have ever purchased, by the way) but I also carry paper maps just in case I can’t charge my phone or I have no signal. To save weight, I’ve printed pages from my Memory Map software so I only have the pages I need.

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