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Some of my Personal Thoughts on Long Distance Walking


'Pack your rucksack, then unpack it, leave out half the items, then pack it again'

There's a load of information on the internet about equipment for outdoor activities, some of it valuable, some of it designed to make you part with money. These notes are my personal views, and you will have your own. It's what I've come to feel happy with after 30 odd years of walking and camping. I'd love to hear yours, so please use the feedback form to let me know.

You can spend a fortune on equipment which you don't need and hardly ever use. I've done it myself. Others make do with hardly any specialist equipment. There are few things more demoralising than slogging relentlessly up a never-ending climb to a high, wild and lonely summit, feeling smug about your new lightweight rucksack, 150% waterproof jacket, feather-light tent and odour-wicking undies, only to find a young family in T shirts with kids in pushchairs having a picnic in the summit shelter.

On established long-distance walks, like the National Trails, you'll find baggage carrying services which will take your bags from one overnight stop to the next, leaving you free to walk with only a day pack - I've seen people on the Coast to Coast Walk wearing dinner jackets and long gowns in the evening! You won't find this service on the Wild Yorkshire Way, although you can cobble together your own using taxis, buses and helpful B & B proprietors, and if I'm about I'll take your bags to Oughtibridge on your first day. I prefer to travel light and carry all my own stuff, washing it when necessary in hotel rooms or mountain streams. Don't take too much, make sure it's not too heavy, and concentrate on safety and comfort.

Depending on what I'm buying, I prefer to shop where I can see, touch, feel and try the stuff. This is especially true for items like beer, and more expensive items like tents and sleeping bags. I can't go past an Outdoor Shop without popping in, and there are loads of them in walking areas. You'll meet several on the Wild Yorkshire Way, and often you'll get advice from fellow walkers in the shops.

A quick Google will reveal several shops in your area, and I like GO Outdoors as you can either order online or visit your nearest branch for general purpose equipment. For more specialist stuff, my favourite online shop is Ultra Light Outdoor Gear, which is really good for weight watchers. The guys here are walkers themselves, they know what they're talking about, and they also pay UK taxes.

If you're an outdoor shop, and you'd like a link on here, just let me know (and by the way I could do with a new tent).