In July and August 2020, I walked from Dover in Kent to Cape Wrath in Scotland and wild camped all the way. This 1,100 mile (ish) route included the North Downs Way, the Wey Navigation path, the Grand Union Canal, part of the Oxford Canal, Coventry Canal and the Pennine Way. Then from the end of the Pennine Way at Kirk Yetholm, I followed the Scottish National Trail all the way to the finish at Cape Wrath. This post will explain my Dover to Cape Wrath preparations.
If you’d like to see an overview map of my whole route from Dover to Cape Wrath, it’s here.
Well, this is the plan anyway! One thing I learned from walking LEJOG is that I tend to change my route depending on weather conditions and my general mood. If I am struggling I tend to aim more for the roads and tracks rather than muddy footpaths. The massive advantage of wild camping is that route variations are possible, as I am not aiming for a specific place each day.
Covid-19 and social distancing
I will be as self sufficient as possible and wild camp every night. My wife will be driving me to the start and resupplying me as often as she can. This way I will be meeting the rules for social distancing during the walk. I will also be carrying face masks for the occasions when I’ll need to enter food shops along the way.
Although many pubs are now re-opened, it will be tricky for me to use them if they require a booking. I’ll just have to see how it goes. I am nervous about this though, as the pubs literally kept me going on my LEJOG walk!
I’ve also got a new addition to my gear list – two face masks. These will be really important, as I’ll need to wear one to go into a shop.
You can read my final gear list here.
This will be the lightest base weight I have ever set off with (just over 6.8kg). I’m not an ultra-lightweight hiker by any means, but I will be able to save weight on this walk as it is summer. I tend to avoid long-distance walking in the summer as a rule (crowds, midges, lack of water etc), but Covid-19 has changed everything this year!
Another way I am saving weight is by using my Ulefone Armor 3W phone for navigation, camera and GPS as well as a phone. This also saves time as when out walking. I just take the phone out of my pocket, take a picture, check the GPS, check messages – all done.
From experience, I have learned that using a number of small dry bags instead of one big one lining my rucksack suits me better. This way I can guarantee that my bedding stays dry if something leaks inside my pack. Often I am too lazy to re-seal a big dry bag as I’m in and out of my rucksack all day. Using smaller dry bags means my gear stays dry if it rains.
I also carry more stuff sacks than is necessary just for easier organisation. It means I can find things more easily, and keeps my grubby smelly stuff away from my slightly cleaner stuff.
On my Cape Wrath Trail walk, I posted re-supply parcels to a couple of points along the way (mainly Scotland), but mainly I relied on being able to purchase food and supplies as I went.
This is not going to be possible on this walk from Dover to Cape Wrath, as I can’t rely on all the businesses being open all the way along my route. So for this walk, my wife is going to meet me at certain points – the most important of these being just before the Pennine Way, at Fort Augustus and at Kinlochewe just before I begin the Cape Wrath Trail. I’ve made up re-supply bags for her and labelled which ones to bring when.
For my Dover to Cape Wrath preparations, I’ve got one re-supply bag that I’ve asked my wife to bring on every trip. This contains things like warmer layers, clean shirt / pants / socks, a spare set of walking poles, my Salomon walking boots, extra face masks, meths, toiletries, power pack and insoles for my walking shoes.
The re-supply bags that are labelled for the different sections of the walk contain a re-supply of consumables: dehydrated meals, snacks, kitchen roll, antibacterial wipes etc. (Note from Mark’s wife: I’ve also thrown in a few treats for each re-supply point – beers, sloe gin and snacks mainly – as these really help his morale when the walk gets tough.)
In terms of fitness, I am relying on getting fit as I walk. Although I have been out walking in my local area every day during lock-down, it certainly wasn’t preparation for this. Often I set off too fast and suffer later, so I am going to try to start at a steady pace and build up my fitness as I go.
So all being well, my next post will be the first few days of the North Downs Way, from Dover. You can follow my progress on the blog, and thanks to everyone for all your messages of encouragement so far. I’m extremely grateful for the support.
Next post: Dover to Cape Wrath: Chapter 1
Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. We do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark and Emma.