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Some of my Personal Thoughts on Long Distance Walking


Arrive late, leave early, leave no trace. Or go in a hotel

For overnight stops, you have several alternatives - hotels/B and Bs, a tent, a bivouac, or the open air. Hotels are extremely heavy, but as you don't need to carry them in your pack, that doesn't matter. I thought about including an accommodation guide on here, but the truth is that things change so quickly as pubs and hotels open and close. There are many excellent websites with detailed accommodation guides, particularly on the official parts of the route. I usually take my tent with me - it's a one person tent weighing less than 900g from Terra Nova, my favourite tent manufacturer. In good weather, the joys of trying to spot shooting stars and orbiting space stations in the black night sky have to be seen to be believed, made all the more enjoyable far away from city light pollution. I've slept in all kinds of places, in ruined buildings, mountain bothies, summit shelters, coastguard huts, caves and on one occasion in a self-built igloo. Yes, honest!

Kings Arms

Much has been said and written about wild camping, and we all know we're not supposed to do it. However, it's tolerated in the higher, wilder areas and I do lots of it, but always arrive late and leave early. Don't be tempted to put your tent in someone's garden, but don't be scared to ask in pubs as many of them will let you camp if you have a few pints and some food in the pub. Several farms will allow solitary or small groups of campers, an example being Cow Dub farm in upper Dentdale, so just ask and see what they say. Take a photo of your tent and keep it on your phone so you can show them that you mean business.

So, if you're going to try camping, what do you need? Well, a tent is a good start (voice of experience here) and of course a sleeping bag. Get the best and lightest tent you can afford, as you'll be carrying it all day, and the same applies to your sleeping bag. Don't believe the temperature ratings on sleeping bags - you'll feel cold at the quoted limits, and you won't be able to sleep. Wear your spare DRY clothes in your bag at night. The classic dilemma for your bag is natural v synthetic insulation - I prefer down, but you'll decide for yourself once you've investigated the pros and cons. A self inflating sleeping mat insulates you from the cold ground and provides some extra comfort, but is fairly heavy, so in summer you may wish to dispense with it.

Campers usually have to carry their equipment with them, which makes their packs heavy. However, with a bit of ingenuity you can avoid too much of this and have "light" days by using public transport and staying 2 or 3 nights at the same place. For example, in the northern Dales there's a voluntary bus service called The Little White Bus. When you arrive at Keld, you can catch the bus to Reeth and stay there (either in your tent or in a B & B). The next morning, get the bus back to Keld and walk to Reeth, and stay over again. The next morning, walk to West Burton and get the bus back to Reeth, and so on. Sometimes the owners of a B & B might help out, as they can earn more from you. In this way you can stop 3 nights in the same accommodation, and have 2 days walking with a light pack by leaving some of your gear where where you are staying.