There are few places to rival England for a hiking holiday, especially if the weather’s good. But before you head off for the great outdoors, spend a little time making sure you get the most out of your walking holiday. This article will help anyone considering a walking holiday using the country’s network of public foot paths and long-distance walking routes.
Planning Your Hiking Holiday in England
If the weather’s good, then there are very few places to beat England for a hiking holiday. And whether you hike around the rugged south-west coast or ramble through the Lake District, a walking holiday in England rarely fails to satisfy even the most fervent of walkers. But to ensure that your trip is all you expect it to be, you need to do a little more than simply pack a bag and lock your front door. The following tips will help you get the most from your hiking holiday.
1. Plan Your Route
Get an Ordnance Survey map of the section of the country you want to cover and work out the daily walking mileage, taking into account your fitness levels (be realistic about this), as well as terrain and likely weather conditions. The time of year will also affect how far you can travel in a day as there will be less daylight in the winter and early spring/late autumn months.
Also consider what you might want to do along the way. Remember that it’s a holiday after all. You might want time to visit local attractions or have a quick dip in the sea; even stopping for a leisurely lunch can add a special something to your day, and will need to be factored into your daily hiking time allocation when making your plans. You’ll also need to work out how you’ll get to the starting point of your hike as well as back home once you’ve finished (check out national as well as local transport schedules/links). In the excitement of wanting to get started, minor details such as these may get overlooked.
Pre-booking your accommodation is a prudent measure if hiking in high season; it’s not much fun after 12 miles of hiking to be without a hot shower and bed! Booking overnight accommodation in advance can also act as a great incentive if you’re starting to lag a little on your hike: knowing that after only two more miles you’ll get to take your backpack off and have a cup of tea and hot shower can help enormously with the simple act of continuing to walk!
3 What to Take
Don’t be tempted to buy the biggest backpack you can afford as you’ll only fill it up. Remember that you’ll be carrying this weight all day, everyday, for the duration of your trip. If you carry more than 15 lbs, make sure your backpack has a frame. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the pack as this will help you keep straight and make walking more comfortable. As a general rule, you should try to carry no more than one-third of your body weight, and after a number of hours even this will start to take its toll on your back. Remember that this is a holiday after all! Therefore, you really need to be ruthless and take only the essentials appropriate do thing (including water repellent jacket/trousers); safety items (e.g., mobile phone, flashlight, and batteries); first-aid supplies to treat blisters, minor cuts, and grazes; maps and guidebooks. Also make sure you’re never without water and energy foods for snacking such as fruit (dried fruit takes up less space, and trail mix combines dried fruit with protein-packed nuts and seeds which will help you feel fuller for longer). You may be limited in what you can choose for snacking depending on where you stock up. Also, don’t forget to include the odd local delicacy in you snacking stock (e.g. a Cornish pasty or Eccles cake), which can make your lunchtime stop all the more enjoyable.
Depending on the time of your trip, you may also want to pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent. If you find that you’ve got a little room after packing the essentials (and it’s highly unlikely), sip in a pair of sandals (even flip-flops); your feet will welcome a break from the boots when you walk out for that well-deserved pint at the local pub in the evening, and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful a simple pair of flip-flops can feel after miles in a pair of tough hiking boots. If you take one “luxury” item, make that the one.
Take a few days to plan your hiking holiday and you’ll be prepared for most eventualities. You’ll have less to worry about which means you’ll be able to devote more of your energy to walking and enjoying the view.
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