Is it possible to walk from Dover to Cape Wrath, wild camping all the way?
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have asked (and answered) a similar question before. In February 2019, I set off from Land’s End. I wanted to see if it was possible to walk all the way to John O’Groats (via the three peaks of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis), wild camping every night.
The answer was yes, it is possible. I managed the whole route in 60 days. However, I got hit by really bad weather just before tackling Snowdon. I had to wait for the storm to clear so I spent two nights in an AirB&B in Machynlleth. This did end up being my only day off on the whole walk, and I backtracked to the accommodation (so I could still say I had wild camped the whole route). However, I have not been able to shake off a nagging guilt about it.
So here’s my new challenge. This time, I am planning to walk from Dover to Cape Wrath. This is the length of the UK from the opposite corners to LEJOG. Again, my mission is to wild camp the whole route (yes, even including around London!)
My intended Dover to Cape Wrath walk is planned bearing in mind what I learned from LEJOG. On that walk, when the weather was bad, I tended to change my route to stick to roads and cycle paths. This made the going much easier and allowed me to cover the distance more quickly.
This time, my route includes a lot of canals which will be easy walking, even in bad weather. Update; I loved it and purchased Striding Edge narrow boat.
I have learned that a walk of this distance is more a mental challenge than a physical one. It is easier to cope with difficult terrain once you have a significant chunk of the distance done. This is why I have chosen to follow the canals through the early part of my Dover to Cape Wrath walk.
Packing and gear lists
This time, I’m walking in the summer. I started from Land’s End in February and finished in April, so for that walk I had to pack for full winter conditions. A lot of the equipment I am taking for my Dover to Cape Wrath walk is both lighter and smaller, meaning I can even get away with a smaller rucksack. I am also taking a tent more suitable for summer conditions – Tarptent’s Notch Li. This is nearly 300g lighter than the tent I used for LEJOG.
For the Dover to Cape Wrath walk, my wife will be meeting me at various points on the path. It should work out at roughly once every two weeks or so. This means I don’t have to carry as much food in one go, or as many spares to cover all eventualities. For example, if it turns colder, I can just ask her to bring me extra clothes or a thicker sleeping bag on the next meet-up. The support also means I don’t need to carry a power pack or solar charger, as I can re-charge my electrical items when we meet.
Since walking LEJOG, I have bough a more powerful phone with a better battery. This also means I am less reliant on the power pack to recharge it.
One lesson I did learn on LEJOG is not to compromise on my sleeping mat. This time, I am taking two sleeping mats for comfort – one half-size and one full-size. This will support my legs better during the night, as I found they really ached last time. It’s also insurance in case one air mattress gets a puncture.
The whole boots vs shoes debate: I’d like to test what it’s like to walk a long way in breathable footwear instead of Goretex-lined boots. This is because the Goretex lining failed quite early on my LEJOG walk.
Follow my progress
My wife (now ex wife) will be posting regular updates of my progress from Dover to Cape Wrath here. Updates will be a little sporadic as she will be relying on getting the notes from me when we meet, but we will try to make this as often as possible. I hope you enjoy reading about my next adventure.
The reasons that I wild camp instead of staying in accommodation.
I was just thinking about the reasons I wild camp instead of staying in accommodation. I’ve been wild camping for nearly 50 years. It’s the feeling of freedom. Walking as far as I like each day without a definite plan and camping where ever I get to. The chance to change the route depending on the weather conditions or how I feel that day and not having to follow a predesignated route and make it to the booked accommodation each day. Wild camping also makes it possible for me to get out into the countryside more, because I’ve a low income. I wouldn’t have been able to walk from Lands End to John O’Groats last year if I had had to pay the usual £3500 for accommodation etc. I walked and wild camped it for £1300 and most of that was spent enjoying the company of locals in their pubs and cafes.
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