Hibernation

Turns out, I’m not a winter walker.

Hibernation isn’t good for getting hike fit, but the shorter days and colder weather make inside much more appealing than outside. With the solstice behind me and a New Year started, I’m ready to get back out there – but with new gear. And what better time to buy new stuff than in the sales?

First stop, a down jacket. That was a mission in itself as I wanted room to fit a fleece underneath and my waterproof coat over the top, but I managed to pick one up in the sales that will do the job

Next up, boots. My Merrell boots are fine until it’s wet underfoot, when they become downright dangerous as they don’t offer any grip. That’s the kind of thing you can’t find out til you’re out walking, so they’ve been relegated until we have better weather and in their place some shiny new Scarpa boots which were a whopping half price in the sale

While I was at it I upgraded my cook set to an Alpkit BruKit, and picked up their Hippo mini water filter at the same time. Not that I’ll need either of these while I’m walking round my local area, but because I’m doing the Cleveland Way later this year – guidebooks/maps were also purchased, including a 1990s Paul Hannon from a charity shop – and I can’t resist a sale

So that’s where we’re at – still middle aged and unfit, but all kitted out and full of enthusiasm. Hike fit will hopefully follow, not the super athletic kind but the not needing mountain rescue or dying on a hill kind

Base weight bias

If you ever show your fellow hikers online what you’re packing for a trip, two things are pretty much guaranteed to happen – someone will tell you that your base weight is too high, and someone else will tell you not to carry more than 20% of your body weight

My base weight items -not including the poles. I’ll detail what I carry in a future post

What is base weight?

Base weight is the weight of everything you’ll be carrying, minus food, water, fuel, and trekking poles – although these can be included if you think you’ll be stowing them for long periods. I quickly learned that lots of light things add up to one big heavy thing, so weigh up – literally! – how much you need an item or whether you could find a lighter alternative. Pack everything you’re planning to take into your rucksack, and pop it on the scales. That’s your base weight

Packed and ready for weigh in

What about the 20% rule?

Rules are made to be broken. I don’t base anything on my body weight, and that includes how much I’m carrying. I definitely wouldn’t recommend someone who weighs twice as much as I carries a pack that’s twice as heavy! Conversely, if you’re very petite then you’d need to go super ultralight to stay below 20% of your weight. Carry a weight you can manage comfortably day after day, and tear up the rule book

My base weight is 8.6kg

What’s my base weight?

My base weight is 8.6kg, which includes my full gas canister – I know, I’m not meant to include it but it’ll be a while before it gets noticeably lighter – but doesn’t include a map/guide, compass, sunblock, or the hoodie I usually start out wearing. This base weight is an improvement on what I took on my shakedown hike/camp, as I’ve upgraded to lighter kit and cut back on things I found I didn’t use. If you’re packing things just in case, those are the first things to look at if you’re trying to reduce your base weight, but if you’re certain everything you’re carrying is essential then it might be time to do what I did and look for lighter alternatives or see if you can find multi-use items

My power bank, one of three luxury items

Luxury items

My base weight would be lower if I dropped my luxury items – a small insulated flask, an old mobile phone, and a larger than strictly necessary power bank. All these things add weight, especially the power bank, but they also add happiness and peace of mind and you can’t put a weight on that. The flask means I can stop for a hot drink without needing to get my cooking gear out, which will be especially handy when the weather is wet or windy; the old mobile gives me access to an e-reader and audiobooks, and the power bank will charge my phone six times, so I know I’ll always be able to navigate with GPS if needed and can keep in touch with family and friends when I have signal or access to Wi-Fi

What I learnt about base weights

  • Base weight is as personal as body weight – carry a weight you can manage, and ignore other people. They aren’t the ones carrying it
  • The 20% rule is there to be ignored
  • Say yes to luxury items that make you happy, but be sensible
  • Weigh everything individually and consider a lighter or multipurpose alternative
  • Remember your base weight doesn’t include food, water, fuel, or poles
  • A litre of water weighs 1kg, and even with a filter you’ll need to carry enough to get you to the next water source. While water isn’t included in your base weight, it’s essential that you bear that in mind and make sure you’re able to carry as much as – ideally a bit more than – you need
  • You’re the one carrying your pack and using the contents. It needs to be right for you, not someone else

What I learnt on a shakedown

Hiking a small section of the Coast to Coast on a shakedown

What is a shakedown?

A shakedown is where you pack everything you’re planning to take on a long distance hike, and take it for a walk. As I’ll be camping, that included my tent, sleep system, fuel and stove, and plenty of food. This is a really good way to see how much your pack really weighs, whether you need to make any adjustments to any of your gear, if you’re carrying something unnecessary, or if you’ve missed something crucial. For my shakedown I picked up the Coast to Coast path as it passes close to my house and hiked to the nearest campsite to pitch up. It wasn’t a massive distance, probably about 6 miles, but it gave me a really good insight into what I need to change

The path goes THROUGH the hedge here. Without the OSMaps app I would have been very confused

What I learnt on the way

I used a guidebook with the relevant parts of OS maps, plus the Ordnance Survey app as back up. The Coast to Coast is traditionally walked from west to east, but I was heading east to west and found that signposts were patchy heading that way. The hike part of the shakedown confirmed that the guide and app worked and would definitely be needed, and also that a compass is likely to prove helpful in more remote areas. It also reinforced that I’ve got a lot more training to do to get hike fit

The spooky stile pictured below is next to something wonderful – an honesty box and a fridge full of cold drinks, assorted chocolate bars, and some fruit. I picked up a bottle of water and an apple, put what I owed plus a bit extra to show my gratitude into the box, and carried on refreshed. I was already carrying plenty of water, but used the bottle I bought to cool myself down by tipping some over my head and using some to wet my hat. It was 24c and the improvised cold shower was just what I needed

The spooky stile is famous on the Coast to Coast

My pack was comfortable but heavy, and the weight on the shoulder straps has bruised my (admittedly bony and prominent) collarbone on both sides. I clearly need to spend some time adjusting everything to make absolutely certain that my pack is the best fit it can be. It didn’t hurt at all while I was hiking, which was good, so I didn’t make any adjustments on the trail. The weight, however, was a concern and I need to look at what items I can swap out for lighter alternatives and what I could have left behind

What I learnt at the campsite

The view from my tent

I picked a campsite that was close to home, an easy hike away, and which offered a range of services for campers as well as hikers or cyclists who were passing through. As this was my first camp, I didn’t want to be without access to amenities although I did carry everything I’d need to make a hot drink or meal as I’ll need those on the full Coast to Coast. I arrived, hot and tired, at about 4pm and pitched my tent easily before heading for a much-needed shower and change of clothes. I ordered a homemade sandwich for lunch the following day, and raided the honesty tuckshop for crisps and an individually wrapped Soreen to make up a picnic. I was booked for two nights, with a second walk planned for the next day

My boots, which I’ve never been entirely sure about – see here – worn in conjunction with a pair of basic walking socks, failed me. I had some lovely blisters, and wished the merino hiking socks and liners that I’d ordered had arrived before I set off, The search for the Goldilocks boots continues, but I do now have the proper socks that I wanted. The blisters reduced my walk the following day to just a few miles, and I had my picnic lunch sitting in the porch of my tent while reading a book borrowed from the tuckshop. I also arranged to get a lift home with a friend rather than make things worse by walking back home

My sleep system also wasn’t up to scratch and that, added to getting used to the random noises of a campsite at night, means I didn’t have terribly good sleep. It was also a lot colder than I had expected, and I ended up wearing all my clothes to keep warm in bed! All of this hopefully shows why a shakedown is so important – better to discover these things now, with time to upgrade or replace them, than when I’m on the Coast to Coast proper. Once I’ve made changes I’ll head out for another shakedown, and see if I’m better equipped

What I learnt on my first shakedown

  • While I could – and did – carry my pack filled with everything I’ll need on the Coast to Coast, it was really too heavy. I need to look at everything I carried, including my luxury item of a small flask of tea, closely to see where I can drop a bit of weight
  • I must find my Goldilocks boots, and soon
  • I need a much better sleeping mat, a far superior pillow, and either a thicker sleeping bag or some thermals to wear in bed
  • Honesty fridges/tuckshops and the provision of benches show there are lovely people willing to help hikers
  • It’s a good idea to stick to terrain and distances you know you can manage, and if you’re camping for the first time pick a campsite with good facilities
  • I’m nowhere near ready for a long distance hike – but I know what I need to do in terms of training so that I will be ready eventually

Walking is free, long distance hiking isn’t

The bit of the Coast to Coast nearest my house

To do the Coast to Coast, or presumably any long distance hike, in comfort – staying in hotels/pubs/B&Bs, and using a baggage transfer company so you only need to carry a daypack – is, probably not unsurprisingly, expensive. Add to the basic costs the fact that a lot of places charge a single person supplement, and the Coast to Coast inches it’s way out of my budget

Staying in B&B accommodation and/or using baggage transfer also, obviously, means you have to walk a set distance on each given day, either to get to your bed for the night or to meet up with your belongings. That just doesn’t appeal to me

Be more snail

With no time constraints, a limited budget, and no way to predict my fitness levels, it made sense to look at camping. I’ve never been in a tent before, but the more I looked at photos of people camping (either wild or on sites) the more appealing it became. With a tent I could be a lot more flexible – it would be unlikely that I wouldn’t be able to find a campsite willing to squeeze me in but if I couldn’t then I could pitch up in a secluded spot, I could take rest days when I wanted, dodge walking on particularly wet or hot days, and stop when I was ready to, still with the option of booking a night somewhere as and when the need arose. I could hike at my own pace – probably a snail’s pace – and, also like a snail, have everything I’d need on my back. The benefits seemed to outweigh the extra kit I’d need to buy and carry. In terms of cost there would obviously be the initial outlay, which probably won’t be far off what it would cos to stay in accommodation along the Coast to Coast, but everything can and will be reused rather than spent on one holiday

Never thought I’d own a tent

Positive intent, in tent

For a while, my YouTube and search history were nothing but tents – videos, reviews, sizes, weights. I asked for advice in Facebook groups too, and the main takeaway was to get one person more than you needed, to allow room for your rucksack etc to be inside with you. I eventually settled on the OEX Bobcat 1 which appeared to fit the bill – not ultralight but not one of the heavier options, easy to pitch, enough room for me (I’m only 5’4”) to sit up in, and towards to bottom of my budget. Despite the recommendation to get one person bigger than you need, I went for the Bobcat 1 because of the porch area, which has plenty of space for my pack and boots. I like that you pitch outer first because it rains a lot in my corner of England and that you can – apparently, I haven’t tried yet – pitch both outer and inner together. I might decided to upgrade to a more expensive and/or lighter option in future, but this one fits my needs at the moment. I didn’t follow my own advice (see below) of trying them in store, because we don’t have anywhere that I can get to to do that – still cursing my inability to travel – but I just made sure to do even more research to make certain my choice was going to be the right one. Of course, I didn’t stop at just a tent, but I’ll run you through my basic kit in a future post

Trying it out with my pack in the porch area

Testing, testing

One thing I’ve learnt while researching tents is that it’s really important to do a test pitch or several. The more you practice the easier and quicker it becomes – I know this because I’d never put a tent up before and my first attempt took far too long and featured several mistakes. You’ll thank yourself for practicing when it’s raining, you’re exhausted, and you just want to crawl into your temporary shelter. My tent pitching has got better and quicker each time, until I’m fairly positive that I won’t embarrass myself on a camp site or wake up entombed in a collapsed tent

Back to the pack

All of a sudden, that Osprey Renn 65 rucksack- click here for my post about that – stopped being too big. I needed that space now, to pack my newly acquired tent and all the things that go with it. Had I gone for a smaller rucksack I’d have had to carefully cram things in to make sure everything fitted, but there’s plenty of room for everything I need and even a bit of space leftover. I’ll give you a detailed look at what I’m packing where and why in a future post

A room with a brew

One luxury I won’t give up is a nice cup of tea – but how to do that when a lot of campsites offer only minimal amenities, and wild camping comes with none? Suffice to say that my YouTube and search history are now full of camping stoves so I can always make a brew. Everything, even a wet tent that needs packing, looks better over a cuppa

Goodnight

What I learnt about buying a tent

• Do your research carefully. Read reviews and watch videos. Ask for advice and recommendations from experienced campers and in any Facebook groups you’re in, including ours

• Decide what sort of tent you want. Consider when and where you’ll be using it, how you want to be able to pitch it and take it down, how much room you want in both height and width, and the weight

• If you can, go and look at tents in a store. Get in the display tents, and check how easy it is to get in and out, whether you have room to sit up if you want to, will you be able to get into and out of nightwear, whether you want a porch area for keeping your pack and/or boots or for cooking. Pick up a packed tent and feel just how heavy it is. Imagine yourself after a day of hiking, how tired will you be, do you think you’ll be able to pitch and be comfortable in the tent

• Always check the hydrostatic head – this is how waterproof your tent is. The higher the number, the more rain it will keep out

• Be prepared for the extra spending that comes with camping. As an absolute minimum, you’ll probably want something to sleep on and under, and a torch of some description

My first “long” walk

What counts as a long walk? That’s entirely up to you, you’re the one walking it so you get to decide

The long and winding road

One step at a time

I’d done several walks around the 4-4.5 miles mark, more than I had been doing for the past year but still not enough to make a long distance multi-day hike a possibility unless I want to take an awful long time about it – time is ones thing I have lots of, but not enough to drag less than 5 miles out into a full day of walking! It was time to step up my game

I planned a walk of just over 5 miles, the obvious next step in my vague plan to get hike fit, following a footpath I’ve used before up over a field and through some scrubby woodland, then picking up a bridleway that I’ve never explored to loop back home. The footpath gets very muddy in places, but Britain had just basked in a heatwave so it seemed an ideal time to do it. And then it rained

The best laid plans

It rained all the preceding day and through the night, and I woke to overcast skies and a very wet garden. Picking my way through mud isn’t my idea of a nice walk, especially when it’s not particularly scenic, so it was time to rethink my plans. The best option seemed to be to take to the roads – more accurately lanes – and head to a neighbouring village, and this had the advantage of giving me several chances to leave the tarmac for public footpaths across fields if the going looked good

I couldn’t find the start of this path, but I found the end

Achievement unlocked

There wasn’t anywhere to take a break before I reached the village, and it’s really nothing more than a cluster of large houses. A quick sit on the wall of the church and I was on my way again, picking up a well signed but clearly seldom used (see below) footpath to do one side of a triangle instead of two by the road

I don’t think anyone’s been this way for a while

When I got home, a bit footsore but still upright, I was amazed to find I’d walked over 7 miles with only a very short break. So much for the 5 miles that I’d thought was my next goal! I’m calling it my first “long” walk because it was a long walk for me, and it’s in quotation marks because I know I can and will go further so it’s only long at the moment. I definitely knew I’d done it the next day when the aches and pains started, but no blisters and hopefully I’ll be less sore with practice

That’ll do, Pig

These boots are made for walking

I live in walking shoes in the winter, so I can go to the shop without ending up in a heap on the floor, and the rest of the year I wear whatever trainers I currently have. Footwear isn’t high on my list of priorities – if a pair of shoes fits and my feet are dry then I’m happy. I did my first “just how unfit am I?” walk in trainers, then switched to my walking shoes. That was a mistake. Without the wintery weather to make me tread carefully the were heavy, cumbersome, and made my feet really hot. It was clearly time to dip my toes into the wonderfully confusing world of walking/hiking boots

My current boots, taking a rest. I do a lot of resting

Rub-a-dub-dubbin

The last time I put on a pair of walking boots, back in the early nineties, the only choice was leather. Unwilling hours were spent with a tin of Dubbin trying to make them softer and more supple, to no avail because they never did feel comfortable – I remember them being heavy, awkward, and not great to walk in. Happily, things have changed a lot since then and you can buy boots and shoes in a variety of materials and styles for all kinds of activities and terrains and every foot shape and size

There’s some really useful info on boots and brands in Matthew Usherwood’s post here

My current boots, resting again

Goldilocks

I put boots in the same category as rucksacks – worth spending money on, because you only get one pair of feet and sore feet can ruin even the shortest walk. I was going to ask my feet to do something they definitely weren’t used to, and the least I could do was make sure they were comfortable doing it. I wanted Goldilocks boots; in terms of fit, comfort, and features, they had to be “just right”

We don’t have a decent outdoors shop here – curse my current inability to travel, but that’s a work in progress – so I went online and ordered several pairs of boots from some of the top brands in a variety of styles. One pair after another arrived, was tried, and then sent back for a refund, until I was starting to think there was something weirdly wrong with my feet. In desperation I ordered a pair that seemed, in comparison to some I’d tried, to be suspiciously cheap. They turned out to be my Goldilocks boots

I’m happily wearing a pair of Regatta boots at the moment. They’ve got me out and walking when trainers wouldn’t be enough, which is what matters, but the search for the elusive top quality Goldilocks boots continues. There’s always the chance that I’m overthinking this, assuming that expensive boots are what I need when, in reality, what I need is the right pair of boots for my feet. As I start walking further and for longer, I guess I’ll find out how good – or not – my current pair are. Watch this space

What I learnt about buying walking boots

  • Try on lots and lots of different makes, styles, and sizes while wearing the socks you’ll be walking in
  • Allow space for your feet to swell, and room for your toes – a size up is a good starting point
  • Have a good walk round indoors and check your feet don’t move in your boots – too much movement means blisters are almost inevitable
  • Comfort is a million times more important than appearance
  • Don’t discount cheaper boots to get you started
  • When you find your Goldilocks boots, buy them

From unfit to (not quite) hike fit

If you ever walk past my house … don’t be surprised if you spot me lunging my way to the kitchen

Obviously I need to walk, that much is clear – you can’t get hike fit without hiking. Speed doesn’t interest me, and I’m happy to plod to my destination with regular breaks to admire the view. But is that enough for overall fitness, or for carrying a pack? And what about the days when I can’t head out for a walk because of other commitments, or it’s pouring down, or I just can’t be bothered?

“Siri, how do I get fit for hiking?”

How fit I am has never really interested me, and getting fit is something I’ve never really done. I’m not sporty, I’ve never set foot in a gym, I couldn’t run if you paid me, and I’ll be a willing first victim in any kind of zombie apocalypse. As with anything I don’t know, I started with an internet search. What I learnt, from a million different and often conflicting bits of information, was that exercise doesn’t sound like my idea of fun

My kettlebell in its permanent role as a doorstop

I said in my first post that I’m weight restored from a restrictive eating disorder, and that involved not just eating more but also moving less. Add the covid lockdowns to that, and I find I’m now the owner of a larger and lazier – but overall healthier, everything is working pretty much as it should be – body. I no longer know what my body can and can’t do, and am figuring it out as I go

Always check with your doctor before you start doing something new, just to be on the safe side. i recently had a full MOT, so I know I’m good to go

What I do

I’m not a workout person, I much prefer to drop things into my day as and when. If you ever walk past my house, and I appreciate this is highly unlikely, don’t be surprised if you spot me lunging my way to the kitchen or doing wall push ups while the kettle boils – I’ve even started doing a few sit ups, which is something I definitely never thought I’d say! You might find me doing a few squats before I sit down, or calf raises and upper body twists while I supervise whatever is cooking for tea (I’m a northerner, our evening meal is called tea) and I’m always stretching just because it feels so good. You won’t, however, find me doing any form of structured exercise because, quite simply, I cant be bothered

Perhaps this will get me doing structured exercise without getting bored

All of the moves I’m doing make sense to me in terms of getting hike fit – they should strengthen my legs, torso, and arms. A bit of yoga, which I used to enjoy and am getting back in to, will help with flexibility. I also bought RingFit Adventure to hopefully get me motivated and distract me with the gameplay – it looks good so far. My main exercise though, and the one I enjoy, is walking

Am I getting fitter? If fitter means I can walk further and for longer, or go up hills with a bit less effort than before, or lunge across the front room easier, then yes I’m getting fitter. Am I getting hike fit? We’ll find out together, when I do my first full day hike with a heavy pack

If I can give you one tip for getting (not quite) hike fit, it’s just to do it, The hardest part is often persuading myself to start – once I’ve laced up my boots and got out there I wonder why it was such an effort

Choosing a rucksack for long distance hiking

Some serious baggage

A comfortable rucksack is essential for any kind of long distance hiking and I decided to make that my first purchase. The last time I did a multi-day hike, when I was a teenager back in the early nineties, my rucksack was basically a canvas bag slipped onto a large metal frame. Comfort didn’t feature in its design, and I don’t remember it having useful things like pockets, or separate compartments, or anything more than shoulder straps. How things have changed, and how very confusing it all was – not to mention potentially expensive

After looking online, watching YouTube videos from helpful outdoorsy people, and reading a lot of reviews and blog posts – including this one – I decided to splash out on an Osprey. I didn’t want my walking to be spoilt by an uncomfortable pack or problems with my back – you only get one spine and it’s worth looking after it, especially when you’re going to be carrying a lot of weight

The rucksack

The front

I bought an Osprey Renn 65, knowing it was probably a bit big but figuring that as long as I didn’t cram it full of unnecessary things, it would give me room to carry extra food or water if I needed to, to take off and pack away an outer layer easily, and to avoid having to fight to pack and unpack it. It’s adjustable to your torso length to make sure it fits properly and is comfortable, or as comfortable as carrying a heavy pack can be. It also has load adjusters plus plenty of pockets and compressions straps, and not forgetting a nifty stowaway rain cover. You can see the full spec of my pack and the men’s version on the Osprey website

The back

‘Ow much?!

I’m a Yorkshirewoman and, true to the stereotype, I like to get my money’s worth out of everything. Buying a  rucksack at the top of my budget is my way of making sure I don’t back out of long distance hiking – it’s too big for a daypack so can only be used on multi-day hikes, and hangs on the back of my bedroom door as a reminder of the money spent and the adventures still to come. As it turns out, buying the Renn 65 turned out to be a really good decision, for reasons I wouldn’t know until later – but I’ll save that for a future post

What I learnt about buying a rucksack

  • Don’t pick a rucksack based on looks or colour
  • Be prepared to spend more than you might think
  • If you’re looking at a bigger pack, are you disciplined enough to not fill it with unnecessary things “just in case”
  • Check all the features you want are there – is it adjustable in all the right places, is it designed for a hydration pack, are there the compartments and pockets you need, does it come with a waterproof cover, is it around the weight you’re looking for
  • Try it on – weight the pack (if you’re in a store, ask them if you can borrow some of their stock to do this) and adjust it to fit you. You’ll need to try it and adjust it for all the layers you’re likely to wear – base layer, middle layer, jacket, waterproofs. While you’re doing that, see how easy it is to adjust – will you be able to do that on a wet day on the trail after throwing on waterproofs
  • Look at yourself in a mirror – can you see any pinch points where straps look likely to rub, and if you adjust to remove those is the pack still as comfy

Can you start hiking when you’re middle-aged and unfit?

It seemed such an extraordinary notion – the idea that I could set off from home and walk 1,800 miles through woods to Georgia…

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

Learning to walk

That’s exactly what happened to me. Well maybe not exactly, because I live in England, but close enough. A friend mentioned the Coast to Coast walk to me, which sparked a memory of seeing signs while walking in Swaledale. A quick Google later and I learnt, for the first time and to my utter amazement, that the Coast to Coast passes about five miles from my house. I could walk out my front door and, in the same way Bryson could hike the Appalachian Trail, head west to St. Bees or east to Robin Hood’s Bay using nothing more than my own two feet

My feet, enjoying a break

My feet are important, not just for walking on but because I’m really not a good passenger. Trains, buses, and cars all make me such an anxious mess that I’ve spent the last twelve years going……well……nowhere. Suddenly, the Coast to Coast was not only possible, it opened up more opportunities because it links to – and shares paths with – other long distance walks

Two weeks ago, I decided that I’m going to hike the Coast to Coast

The route

The Coast to Coast runs just shy of two hundred miles from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, cutting across some of England’s most stunning scenery. Most people walk from west to east, crossing the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and finally the North Yorkshire Moors, usually taking about two weeks but many have done it in less and also in more. I’ll be in the latter group

If you click here you can read Matthew Usherwood’s summary of the Coast to Coast and some of the other long distance hikes in my area

The backstory

First up, who am I? I’m a middle-aged, unfit, slightly saggy, single mum with a limited income, an empty-ish nest, lots of time on my hands, a healthy weight after years of restricted and disordered eating, and a mental illness. My rucksack certainly won’t be my only baggage

My mother loved hiking, I hated it. The stunning scenery of North Yorkshire was wasted on teenage me, back in the nineties, as I sulked along in her wake wishing I could go on the kind of holidays my friends did. My rucksack, an ancient old thing on a bulky metal frame, was nearly as big as me – I had to sit on the floor to put it on, and then be hauled up to a standing position. Youth Hostels in those days were welcoming but austere with rickety bunk beds in big dorms, and where I was always the youngest person – and therefore permanently relegated to one of the top bunks. We hiked from one to another, the long days punctuated only by stopping to investigate whatever packed lunch the previous night’s hostel had provided – there was no choice, you just had to hope you’d like it and I regularly didn’t. After a few years of this, some thirty years ago, I never hiked again

Finding new paths where I live

The goal

I’m not sure why I decided that walking the Coast to Coast would be a good idea, but the more I read about it the more I really wanted to do it. I also know that the Coast to Coast is way beyond – millions of miles beyond – my current capabilities and fitness levels, so I won’t be doing it quite yet

At the start of this post I used the phrase learning to walk, and that’s what my posts are going to be about – my motivation, training and preparation, all my decisions, my complete lack of knowledge and experience, and what it’s like to take up hiking in your mid-forties when you’re a long way from fit. I’ll be learning as I go, from a start point of sitting on the sofa knowing absolutely nothing. Can you start hiking when you’re middle-aged and unfit? There’s only one way to find out

I looked for blogs about people like me, people I could relate to, and they’re in short supply – hopefully this one might encourage someone else to lace up their boots and get out there. I suppose there’s two goals really – let people like me know they’re not on their own and, of course, walk the Coast to Coast

Disclaimer

At the bottom of some posts, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learnt about various things. This isn’t expert advice, and I always recommend you to talk to people who know a lot more than I do – most hikers and outdoorsy people are happy to share their knowledge with you. Why not check out some of the other posts on here, and remember to connect with us in the Facebook group