A few months before my wedding I went on my first walking holiday to Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. It was wonderful. We were only in England for a week and we had many folks to visit so we spent only two nights on the National Trail and only one real full day of walking. My memories from that day are vivid. The meal we had at the Old Repeater Station after Les, the proprietor, had tracked us down lost in a sheep pasture on our first night, was one of my top ten dinners of all time. When you walk long miles in the wind, food tastes better, beer is more euphoric and a warm bed is transcendent.
Lessons from that trip:
Buy Bigger BootsI had bought very attractive discount hiking boots online and it was obvious after two days of walking that they were at least one size too small. Fine for one day, but one’s feet swell right up after two.
Don’t buy the pack that the Brooklyn fancy store recommends Nick’s backpack was twice as big (and likely twice as costly) as he needed and he was carrying clothes for going out in London as well as adventure clothes. That can slow a person down.
Don’t be deceived by maps A mile or two when you are tired, wet, hungry, or disoriented is a very very long way. I trusted the guidebook’s optimistic opinion on my fitness and walking speed, based on nothing. What I like about walking is going at my own pace, stopping frequently to drink tea and local beer and eat rich pub food, and visiting museums, houses, and scenic viewpoints.
Nick’s wonderful sister Alex sent over the Wainwright guide as a gift. I know people who read cookbooks in bed as fantasies- I read guidebooks. I love costing out imaginary journeys, choosing this hotel over that one, plotting journeys from airport to beachfront. My own life as an adventure story! So I picked up the highest rated practical guide, Henry Stedman’s Coast to Coast Path (Trailblazer Guide.) Happily, there is a travel book store left in New York City and it is walking distance from my office- Idlewild Books.
I am thinking of breaking the 20 day walk into three weeklong sections spread over the next few years. That way I can try out my equipment, see how I like the accomodations, and maybe go camping on one leg, but on another go for B &Bs so we don’t have to walk so far with heavy bags. Have you done this walk? Please advise in the comments!