I’ve been walking the hills and mountains of the UK all my life. I’m 55, single with 2 children aged 21 and 25. I brought them up on my own from 1 and 3 years old, so they have been on many of the hikes with me.
My philosophy is simple: low weight, low cost, low stress – and getting in as many walks as I can before I’m dead.
I set up this website Wild Walking UK to help and encourage others to enjoy the adventure and freedom of long-distance walking and wild camping in the UK.
…continuing the tradition with my children
My life – Up until recently…
I left school with few qualifications but found a job wood-turning. Going self employed when I was 20 and continuing my business for nearly 30yrs. (they’re my turnings on Prince Charles’ Oak Pavilion at Highgrove House) But family circumstances meant I had to close down my turning business. I then spent a few years doing whatever work I could get, while all the time renovating my own house.
In 2022 I sold my house and car and moved onto my Striding Edge narrow boat, to live a low impact more minimalist lifestyle. Living on a boat certainly makes you think about conserving resources and limiting waste.
I love the freedom and challenge of the hills with nothing booked. Preferring to camp wild, as this means I can change my walk to suit the weather, family demands, my mood, or even the quality of the pubs! (I know I said low cost, but I see it as my contribution to the local economy…) You can read my 11 wild camping rules.
For many years I carried too much weight – often 20kgs (44lbs) or more, due to old gear and lack of knowledge. As I got older I was just doing day walks because I didn’t enjoy carrying heavy loads. Then a few years ago when I sold a property and down sized, I had the money to change all my walking kit. So I learned as much as I could about the latest and lightest gear available, and hunted down the best deals. Which lead me to purchase a waterproof tough phone with GPS and mapping and replace all my hiking gear.
This has given me a new lease of life in the hills. Since lightening my pack weight and improving my navigation safety, I have taken on long distance hikes that I would have never considered before: the Cape Wrath Trail, the TGO Challenge and in 2019 I walked (and wild camped) 1200 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats via Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Then in 2020 probably my best hiking year to date, 1100 miles from Dover to Cape Wrath and The Skye Trail.
I now class myself as a lightweight hiker rather than ultralight. My winter base weight is around 10kgs (22lbs) and in summer around 7 or 8kgs (17lbs). I haven’t always gone for the lightest weight items. I’m more interested in safety and comfort in the hills, rather than ultimate weight saving.
This blog is designed to share the highs and lows of my adventures. I hope it will inspire people to enjoy what our beautiful country has to offer, without it costing the earth. And maybe try something that they didn’t think they could do. It’s also to give a little back and hopefully help others, as I’ve been helped over the years.
I write reviews of all the gear used on my walks. Most of the gear has been purchased by myself, but I have been given a few products to test and review. A big Thankyou to EDZ merino wool clothing, Inov-8 and AtomPacks.
The reviews on my blog are just my opinion and how I feel about the products, companies and walks. When I find something I like or a company that is especially good (particularly if it’s a British company), I like to tell others to help them.
Walking with children
My children often hike with me and I’ve found that the same walk with my family can be a completely different experience. My children find fun in things I had barely noticed – hide and seek in the heather, playing in a mountain stream or the thrill of walking in the dark. As a family, we’ve completed Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, the Pennine Way, the Cumbria Way, the Weavers’ Way the Boudicca Way, Southern Upland Way and the Cape Wrath Trail.
The children walked a lot further than I expected them to, even from a very early age. They especially loved it if there is a hill to roll down or a river to dam up. The children look forward to the next pub just as much as me – obviously not for the pint that I’m after, but the bag of crisps, fizzy drink and game of cards. They loved the 24/7 attention and even now they are older often still join me in the hills. Recently I had a great time walking the Cape Wrath Trail with my 23 year old son and this year we completed the Southern Upland Way.
In 2021 I purchased the Striding Edge narrow boat for holidays. I enjoyed touring the canals so much that in 2022 I sold my house and car to live on the boat. I’ve loved it and had an amazing 2022 summer touring the River Great Ouse and River Nene area. Then spending the winter on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals, enjoying walks into the Derbyshire hills directly from the boat. Check my wildwalkinguk Instagram for more info.
April 2023 Update; Sold the boat and spent the summer hiking around Scotland and with my kids. I’m now looking for another property to renovate, in between hikes. The boat was great fun but the winter was pretty boring, stuck in such a small space. Last year also cost me as much as living in a house. But no regrets at all.
2024 Update; I’ve really missed living on my boat and life on the canals, so have purchased Bumble B narrow boat. I’ve been fitting solar panels and modifying the boat to my liking. So I’m now back touring the UKs canals and living on a boat again.
Thankyou for your interest and support
Thank you very much to all the people who have supported me by buying me a coffee and coming back to use my product links. It is very much appreciated and makes it possible for me to continue paying the website costs.
Please message me with your opinions on the blog and my gear reviews so I can improve and add to the site to make it as helpful to others as I can. Thank you for reading and happy trails.
My favourite piece of gear for convenience and safety
Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself in spare time, and I pay for its running costs myself. I 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 I’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. I 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 me a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark.