Planning a long distance walk in the UK – Part 1

There are lots of long distance paths around the UK with information on routes and good sign-posting.

WalkersCanal towpaths are ideal if you are less able – they are generally flat, passing through rural and urban landscapes with the added bonus of watching people try, not always successfully, to navigate through locks. However, remember it was assumed travelling along canals was to be by boat, so accommodation is more limited and likely to be another mile or so away from the towpath.

Coastal paths are always fascinating and usually well signposted. Not always easy walking as the path is likely to climb steeply in places as small inlets divide the coastline. River walks provide a wide range of challenges alongside some spectacular scenery. Bear in mind that walks that follow a river do not necessarily do so at the bottom of the valley – your path is likely to take you up the mountains at each side.

RamblersNext steps

Once you have decided on the path, get the official guide with a description of the terrain and the route. How long do you want to spend on the walk and where is the starting point? For example, the Wye Valley Walk goes from the source of the river Wye down to Chepstow 135 miles away but the guide starts at Chepstow as this is the easier way to walk it.

One of the main principles when walking long distances is to carry the minimum you need in a day sack. You definitely do not want to carry two week’s worth of gear. Note my personal view that life is too short to camp so each day has to end at a B&B. The most efficient way is to post a parcel beforehand to every 2nd or 3rd night’s B&B with a change of clothes, tissues and cereal bars plus a bag to post your laundry back home. All the B&Bs we used were happy to do this so your planning also needs to include setting out gear to post ahead.

The day sack now only needs to contain essentials plus a light-weight T-shirt type dress, small cashmere cardi plus a pair of sandals to wear in the evenings (for the ladies of course!). Note the change of shoes to give your feet a rest must support the foot all around, so not flip-flops.

Decision time! The plan

  • Decide route, get official guide
  • Set dates – in UK probably late Spring or early Autumn are better thanmid Summer
  • Work out distances between points to find B&B
  • Decide a broad timetable of dates to thenstart on-line search for accommodation
  • Once the first few agree dates and prices,make firm booking – no turning back now!
  • Don’t forget the night before the start and night you finish the walk – will a partner be meeting you or waving you off?

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Ramblers Walking Holidays for guided and independent walking holidays.

•  Read Planning a long distance walk in the UK – Part 2
•  Read Planning a long distance walk in the UK – Part 3

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