Episode 5: 120 Marathons, in 120 Days With Graham Wilson

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris, and Moose for Episode 1 of the Distance Hiker Podcast. Chris took a chance on circumstance and decided to take on a coastal walk around the United Kingdom, starting back in June 2018. In this Podcast, we unpack what it takes to do such an involved walk, not just for himself, but with a large, and very lovely labrador mastiff, named Moose. I hope you enjoy the show with Chris and Moose.

Episode 4: The Listening Walk, With David Matthews

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris, and Moose for Episode 1 of the Distance Hiker Podcast. Chris took a chance on circumstance and decided to take on a coastal walk around the United Kingdom, starting back in June 2018. In this Podcast, we unpack what it takes to do such an involved walk, not just for himself, but with a large, and very lovely labrador mastiff, named Moose. I hope you enjoy the show with Chris and Moose.

Episode 3: Walking 300 Miles And Making 300 Smiles With Katy Ellis

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris, and Moose for Episode 1 of the Distance Hiker Podcast. Chris took a chance on circumstance and decided to take on a coastal walk around the United Kingdom, starting back in June 2018. In this Podcast, we unpack what it takes to do such an involved walk, not just for himself, but with a large, and very lovely labrador mastiff, named Moose. I hope you enjoy the show with Chris and Moose.

Episode 2: Building an app for long distance hikers with Eoin Hamilton

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris, and Moose for Episode 1 of the Distance Hiker Podcast. Chris took a chance on circumstance and decided to take on a coastal walk around the United Kingdom, starting back in June 2018. In this Podcast, we unpack what it takes to do such an involved walk, not just for himself, but with a large, and very lovely labrador mastiff, named Moose. I hope you enjoy the show with Chris and Moose.

Walking 214/214 Wainrights in 18 Days

Wainright’s, Munros, Corbett’s. Tick lists for walkers and outdoorsy folk. Walk then, run them, camp on the summit and solidify your victory with a summit-top selfie. That’s the trend of the moment.

Most mortals prefer to steadily take their time to walk the Wainwrights, picking a few off when time gifts a free weekend. The ultimate prize? Knowing you have walked all 214 wainwrights and have a bunch of good quality mountain days and memories behind you.

But what if you had the wild idea to walk the Wainwrights in one continuous attempt? There are of course records where endurance runners have completed the challenge in an unimaginable time.

A few notable attempts are, of course, endurance legend John Kelly, who takes the FKT of 5d 12h 14m 43s supported, followed closely by Sabrina Verje who set an earlier record in 2021 of 5d 23h 49m 12s. The unsupported record goes to Christopher Gaskin with a time of 11d 10h 58m.


But it was our resident muncher of miles and shredder of shoes Mike @pack_backer who wanted to see how fast he could push himself to complete the challenge. Not for the glory of FKT, but for his own personal curiosity to explore where his comfort limit ends, and his resolve begins.

This account of journals has been taken from our community page, UK Long Distance Hiking, where Mike kindly shared his account with us between the emotional and physical pain of trying the challenge.

Day 1 - 11/214 Wainwrights

It started wet and stayed wet all day and through the night, I didn’t bag many pics as it was pretty horrendous throughout.

It was slow going through bogs and down steep gullies and ravines. Hats off to the fell runners as they are truly a different breed. My bum was twitching a fair few times going down embankments and the day of wet feet did my mood no favors.

Luckily I made it to the Borrowdale valley and stayed off the tops for the night, luckily I did because it absolutely battered it down all night. Unfortunately the next day I had to return home due to personal circumstances but have a train booked back out tomorrow, so will be back on the trail by the afternoon.

Day 2 - 15/214 Wainwrights

Short day today as I spent until around 1430 travelling to the trailhead. The weather started out brilliant, sunny with a nice breeze. That soon turned south when I was ascending into the hills and the cloud base quickly dropped with wind and rain picking up. I managed to plod onwards towards Glaramara and over the precarious-looking rocks leading to the summit.

The paths were all sodden and I spent my time with wet feet and hidden in waterproofs.

I managed to get myself turned around in the clag and almost went down a gully but a quick nav check ensured I was back on track in no time. I plan ed to spend the night at Sprinkling tarn but the wind was shocking so I thought it may be better at Styhead tarn. No luck there either as the wind seemed to be worse. I managed to find a spot as I began my ascent of base brown, it was a pretty poor choice on the side of a hill but offered some shelter from the wind. Or so I thought, it hammered the tent all night with heavy rain too.

Day 3 - 30/214 Wainwrights

Pretty big day today bagged 15 Wainwrights and tons of ascent. The day started in the slopes of Base Brown and the weather was horrendous once I made the steep ascent into the clouds.As I made my way over to Green Gable wind and rain picked up and pretty soon it must have been 40-50mph as I could barely walk and if I relaxed it would have easily knocked me down.I made my way to Great Gable which was just as bad if not worse, the rain was painful and I made quick work of clambering the boulders down and towards Kirk Fell. I made a quick ascent of Kirk fell by ditching the pack and soon found myself making my way towards Brandreth and Grey Knott’s. Once I hit Haystacks the weather chilled a little and I could see the amazing views. The wind was still present but was a backburner at this point. I made.my way over the mountainous ridge and soon found myself on the final leg of the day which was by far the hardest and the ascent/ descent of Mellbreak almost broke me. Eventually I scored food in Loweswater which was a godsend.

Day 4 - 45/214 Wainwrights

Today started well with the first couple of Wainwrights North of Loweswater coming fast. As I made my way back over and up to Burbank Fell the wind soon brought the clouds and the most horrendous rain I’ve been in, in a long time.Luckily I already had my jacket on and just had to whip my trousers on, my feet however were soaked…again.I made my way over the fells and as I was nearing Ennerdale the clouds cleared and the sun reappeared giving me a brilliant view of the sea and over the fells.I could finally see the progress I had made in days previous and was in awe of the scenery.I carried on down to Ennerdale and diverted to Ennerdale bridge for breakfast and a shower which was well needed.I soon made my way back towards the water and considered sacking it here for the day as I’d covered about 11 miles.However, my ego got the best of me and I was soon on the way up Grike which was a truly savage climb 😂.Eventually I reached the top, dried my tent in the wind and sunshine and admired the views for a while before cruising along the fells towards the other Wainwrights on the route.I hit Haycock and knew I was in for a good day so carried on over taking in the majesty of the Scafell massif in the distance.Eventually I reached Scoat fell and chilled for a while. I had some food and felt fresh still so thought I could crack on, bag a few more and make tomorrow a nice easy day.So cruised on over Red Pike, across to Yewbarrrow and down an unholy slope where I found a decentish spot for the night.

Day 5 - 50/214 Wainwrights

Started the day in torrential rain which I was praying to stop. Eventually the rain God honoured our blood contract and eased a little.I took this time to make the steep ascent up to Seatallan and then quickly back down for the next ascent.The rain began again and the wind howled but eventually I managed the third Wainwright which was Buckbarrow.I made a quick descent and opted for some food a little off the trail at Nether Wasdale. It was beautiful and I quickly demolished a good 5k calories and a quick charge of the powerbank before heading out.I took the time to dry my tent on the green and then carried on into the woods to start climbing Whin Rigg.The wind howled up here but the views were amazing and I quickly worked my way over and down to the tarn at the foot of the indomitable Sca Fell.

Day 6 - 57/214 Wainwrights

The day started sunny and after meeting my friend who was gonna be hiking with me today we set off in good spirits up the domineering slope of Slight Side and Sca Fell.It took a while but eventually we mad our way to the top of Slight Side and then you the shortish climb to Sca Fell.The clouds were in full force up there adding to the alien feeling landscape. It was eerily quiet at the top and we had a quick bite to eat before descending into Lords Rake and down the steep scree slope.Eventually we emerged from the darkness of the Rake and quickly traversed the valley to Lingmell which was a steeper climb than I thought (maybe the climb to sca fell was still reeling in my legs).A quick summit and we were onto Scafell Pike (often referred to as Ingleborough). We didn’t stay long as there were queues forming at the Gregg’s on top.We quickly descended into the saddle between there and Borad Crag before making our way over the boulder field towards Great End and then over to Angle tarn.The weather took a turn for the worst and we decided it was best to pitch here for the night and bag Rosett pike once we were set up which didn’t take longer than 15 minutes.

Day 10 - 106/214 Wainwrights

I apologise in advance if this one isn’t as upbeat as the last but my god this has been possibly the toughest day I’ve ever done.I started the day pretty sweet and cruised along the tops after a short climb towards Loyghrigg which was a drop down and then back up to summit.My new shoes that were waiting in Rydal spurred me on for a pre 9am arrival at the hotel.I made my way up Nab scar and Heron pike with the sun already at a blistering level.I topped my bottles up on the way which put me to around 3l which I thought would be ample.My god is the Fairfield horseshoe savage though, the sun was unrelenting and the constant dropping off the peaks to grab Wainwrights along the way really smashed my morale to bits.I debated calling it quits many times today and found myself a little upset with myself at a few points along the way.I remembered what my friend John and another buddy Chris said though, which was to take it one day at a time, one peak at a time and one step at a time.This helped and I plodded along, with little in way of water at this point. I managed to find some dregs in a stream and spent a good 20 minutes filling my bottles.Eventually I plodded along the the bottom of red screes and middle dodd where I had some food and a little rest. This made me feel a bit better and gave me the much needed energy to make the ascent.Eventually I bagged Middle dodd and made my way to red screes to camp for the night.

Day 12 - 142/214 Wainwrights

I started the day/ night at about 1am quickly packing my gear away with the aim of heading through the night and chilling in the day.As you can see from the mileage this was just an outright lie to myself.I cruised in the dark along the Kentmere horseshoe bagging the outlying Wainwrights as I went.It’s eerily quiet in the dark and I soon found myself hitting some pretty decent miles. As I was dropping down into Nan Bield Pass I saw the most beautiful sight.There was a literal shooting star or asteroid breaking up in the atmosphere, it was truly a spectacle to behold. Or I may have been hallucinating, both are equally possible 😂.I chilled on the huge stone seat like the guardian to the pass for a little while eating some cold porridge…yum.I then headed on up into the hills once more hitting Kidsty pike in no time and then onto High street and the old Roman road, which was familiar hiking territory for me and I soon hit Arthur’s like at the end within an hour and a bit. I then dropped down and up over Hallins fell and the others in the area before making the most demoralising climb I have ever faced. The Nab! This was like something out of a horror movie and was insanely steep considering its low elevation. I found myself having a tantrum near the summit and fully spat my dummy out.I then hit the Wainwrights near Angle tarn, taking a quick bath whilst I was there.I soon found myself on top of Place fell where the only thing keeping me going was the thought of some food in Patterdale which was sorely needed.

Day 13 - 150/214 Wainwrights

I started the day in a state as I’d fallen asleep against a tree and then thrown my tent up at daft o’clock in the night in a poor place. Managed a solid sleep though which was much needed.I soon hammered my way into the fells bagging the 3 Wainwrights on my way to Grizedale tarn.I dried my gear at the tarn and chilled for. A little while before deciding if I got the Hellvelyn hills done I could practically have the full weekend off.Naturally I flew up the hills and soon found myself on top of Hellvelyn with the 300 other people.I quickly escaped the mob and dropped into Swirral edge and over Catsycam before descending the embankment and onto my final Wainwright of the day Birkhouse Moor.The trip down was pretty brutal in all fairness and my knees definitely felt it, but hoards of food motivated me onwards.I restocked in Glenridding and chilled for the day and the rest of the weekend as I’m booked into the hostel tomorrow.

Day 15 - 163/214 Wainwrights

I started the day insanely early at around 0100 when the grizzly bear I was sharing the hostel with woke me up with his god awful snoring.I couldn’t get back to sleep so opted to get up and start smashing fells in for a laugh. I want particular happy as I’d paid for breakfast and would miss that and my money.Anyway, I set off towards Glenridding Dodd and not long after summiting and headed for Sheffield pike it began raining.I picked up the pace as I knew thunderstorms were coming and the peaks ain’t the place to be with lightning about.I ditched the bag near Stybarrow Dodd and ran across to bag Raise (yeah that’s right I can run occasionally, very occasionally).I made ym way back, not as fast as I was dying. Grabbed my pack and headed North to grab the other Wainwrights along the way before heading out to the Outliers of Gowbarrow and the like.It sucked big time heading out that far for such small mounds of dirt but hey ho!I soon found myself headed towards Troutbeck and Souther fell where I debated walking the A66. I opted for a quick bus ride for a few stops as it was busy.When I got to Scales I argued with myself about whether to stay at the bunkhouse or head into the hills once more.I listened to my brain for change and called it a day here, but not before ditching the pack and heading up to Souther fell for one last Wainwright of the day.

Day 16 - 184/214 Wainwrights

Today started fairly steady and I quickly climbed to Blencathra where the John Beamson Summit stone is (if your unsure what I mean Just Google John Beamson and blencathra summit stone). Anyway I headed over to Mungrisdale which was a short trip and then over to Bannersdale before heading North to bag the far Wainwrights.The trip was fairly steady although completely shrouded in cloud and rain (most of the day above 600m was spent like this).I made quick progress as it was quite miserable and I wanted to be down from there asap.I waded through the river near Carrick which went well up to my thigh where I’d chosen, luckily I was already soaked 🤣.I then hit the embankment to bag carrok fell and then west to the next peak.After this I made my way southeast to hit Knott and then North once more for the final outliers.The rain had stopped by this point but visibility was poor and it was still soaking wet.I quickly made my way to Great Calva and the prepared for the upcoming slog of going up Skiddaw from the North.Turns out it wasn’t too bad and I soon summited. Ditched my bag on the way to Little man and Lonsdale fell.I then backtracked to carlside ditching the pack again to make short work of Ullocm Pike and then dropping down into Dodd wood.I ditched the pack again the woods and headed up to Dodd and then searching for somewhere to camp.Turns out it was few and far between so I had to just keep cruising until something came up.The trail does provide…eventually 🤣.

Day 18 - 214/214 Wainwrights

I started the day really early with first light and quickly realised it was going to hurt.The long ascent up Grizedale Pike was gruelling and then to drop down after bagging a few Wainwrights to nearly ground level was truly demoralising.I headed back up listening to music to stop me from hearing the screams of my knees. Eventually heading back into the hills and bagging Grasmoor just as the weather closed in.And close in it truly did, I had a few little testbites but it was truly horrendous. The Lake District for some reason had decided to end our relationship in violence.I headed over the fells and ditched the bag to hit the Wainwrights in the outlying loop before dropping down and back up before…you know it, heading down again.The climb up to Robinson was grim and the war with the weather really opened up at this point. It was miserable and I was hurting, so the Lakes really kicked me whilst I was down.I headed on over pretty much with my head in the sound following the trial and bagging wainwrights as I went. I soon found myself at Dales Head and realised with a shock I was actually almost done.The added morale made me cruise down and up High Spy like it was a curb on the road. I soon headed over Maidens Moor and then the final push to catbells was in sight.My knees were screaming at this point but they were an afterthought to me hitting that last hill. And hit it I did, getting a super sick rainbow at the summit which was soo cool and almost felt like the Lakes had forgiven me for leaving.It’s gonna take a lot of processing over the next couple days but I’ll put an update about it soon.Happy trails and ☮️ Out

Episode 1: A Walk Around The UK With Chris and His Dog, Moose

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris, and Moose for Episode 1 of the Distance Hiker Podcast. Chris took a chance on circumstance and decided to take on a coastal walk around the United Kingdom, starting back in June 2018. In this Podcast, we unpack what it takes to do such an involved walk, not just for himself, but with a large, and very lovely labrador mastiff, named Moose. I hope you enjoy the show with Chris and Moose.

A First Look At The Naturehike Shelter Camping Canopy Hammock

I’ve been struggling to get a good night’s sleep under the stars for a while now.

I actually made a post about it here, and on the back of a discussion with our community, concluded that I needed to try hammock camping.

Luckily for me, the lovely folks at Naturehike offered to provide me with their new lightweight backpacking hammock to try out.

I’m no novice to hammock camping, having done it for a few extended periods abroad, including sleeping in a Costa Rica jungle in a hammock, safely raised off the floor and away from the swathes of insects out to bite me.

I’ve also had the joy of hammock camping by the sea a few times, and know too well the relaxing swaying, and cradling a hammock gives you when you’re trying to sleep. It’s like nothing else.

My Naturehike hammock didn’t take long to arrive. Impressive, given it came from overseas. It was well packaged, and fit into a small drawstring sports bag – similar to what you get at JD Sports or Sports Direct. I’ve since transferred it to a stuff sack as I find it better for use outside and trekking.

I’ve since had a chance to test it out in the woods local to me, and I plan to use it on a few multi-day hikes this Autumn and into next year.

Honestly, if I can get away with it, I will use this over a tent. Why? it’s lighter, easier to pitch, and way more comfortable.

Product Specs

Size: Tent fly – 189x186cm, Hammock – 300x316cm
Tent fly fabric: 40D Nylon coated silicon plaid fabric
Hammock fabric: 75d pongee, B3 fine poly mesh
Packed Size: 26x40x12 (but can squeeze smaller in testing)

Build Quality

I extensively checked the seams, and stitch quality of the hammock and fly and was impressed with the sewing quality, and overall feel of durability across the piece despite its relatively low weight and affordable price point.

What I really liked was the metal rings sewn into the ends of the tarp reinforcing the attachment points and making it easy to rig mini-pulls to pull the cords taught.

Moreover, the fabric coverings that wrap around the top of the hammock were a nice feature to keep the bunched up fabric dry in heavy rain, which stops the soak slowly working its way down the hammock towards you.

The fabric for the fly is also an excellent choice – being durable enough but also feeling relatively lightweight.

Suitability For Long Distance Hiking

If you want to switch up your camping setup away from tents, and towards hammocks then this isn’t a bad place to start.

Let’s assume you already use a Vango Banshee 200, at 2.4kg and a pack size of 47×18, and a setup time of 7 minutes.

Now compare this to our hammock at around 1kg, and a pack size of 40×26 uncompressed and a setup time of around 5 minutes. Yes it’s marginal gains, but losing 1.4kg of weight is never a bad thing.

Suddenly you have a compelling alternative, which in all honestly is more comfortable than a tent. Better still, if you are using this in warmer summer months to wild camp you don’t even need a camping pad (but you do need one in colder conditions for insulation) saving further grams.

Yes, I agree that a hammock is not as versatile – it cant be pitched anywhere. However it can be pitched in most places as you will find trees everywhere from the edge of playing fields to small coppices of woodland or forests on route.

With enough research, you can be sure to find a number of potential hammock camping spots along most routes.

Overall I feel hammocks are well suited to long distance hiking on certain trails and make a nice alternative to sleeping under canvas.

The bad

I really didn’t like the bag it came in. For a product designed for outdoor use, I personally would have used a different bag. A compressing lightweight stuff sack, made from the same fabric as the tarp would be more fitting for the product.

The good

Initially, I was unsure whether I liked the colours. Shouldn’t a hammock be bushcraft green?? After use, I realized I love the colours. They are not discreet, so for silent camping, you may need to hide a bit further into the woods, but otherwise, the colour choice really works for me.

I’m also a big fan of the tarp and its overall size. It’s not so massive that it’s extra weight, but big enough to drop the sides down to keep you dry in sideways rain and to give you some privacy within the hammock setup.

I am a big fan of the ‘No Zipper Design’. Here’s a fact. Zips fail, always. Whether it’s a year from purchase, or 5, your zip will always fail. And on a product like a hammock where tension is put on variable parts of a hammock the zip will fail quicker.

Fortunately, Naturehike has put a ‘No Zipper Design’ entry point into the hammock which closes with gravity and can then be velcroed together.

I wasn’t sure of the velcro opening at first, but now I love it. It’s also really easy to get into as you enter the hammock centrally instead of trying to roll in over the side, which can cause you to roll out the other side.

I also really like how Naturehike offers aftersales support and replies to their emails. Many overseas companies don’t, yet Naturehike offer original products and stands behind them with good customer support.

Overall thoughts On The Naturehike Shelter Camping Canopy Hammock

I’m really impressed with the product and will be using it over my tent going forwards If I am sure that I can get away with pitching it on routes for the duration of a trip. Honestly, we have enough coppices of woodland remaining to get away with using a hammock in the UK on most long-distance trails – particularly on lower routes such as the Yorkshire Wold Way for example.

The build quality is reassuring, and although it’s not the lightest hammock on the market it’s priced very generously for what it offers.


Naturehike Shelter Camping Hammock

Reviewed by Matthew Usherwood, Editor at DistanceHiker.com













Last Thoughts

An excellent hammock at a great price. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of weight, or pack size as honestly, it’s lighter than even the lightest tents but it is heavier than some competitor hammocks.

If you want a hammock to start your hammock camping journey then this is an excellent place to start.


How to become a hiking guidebook author

Back in October, I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew McCloy, guidebook author, and self-confessed ‘ Jobbing Writer’ for major outdoor publications including TGO.

Listen to the full episode here

I’ve long wanted to get a guidebook author on the show, mainly because it selfishly interests me as an artistic exercise, but also because guidebook authors are in my opinion unsung heroes of the hiking community. It’s the inquisitive spirit behind a good guidebook that embellishes a trail with interest beyond a series of simple ‘cross the field, and turn left at the next stye’ style of instructions.

Well-written guidebooks bring the trail and its history to life in ways that most of us can be bothered to do so. Yet having a book we can pick up for a tenner, which has the back story, history and valuable inside information on a trail is a luxury. Hiking apps just don’t currently compare, and I hope that people like Andrew continue to write excellent guides.

But what does it take to become a guidebook Author?

Well, I asked Andrew, to find out what the job description entailed.

As with any profession which is not a route to riches (although I’m sure the founders of Lonely Planet disagree) enjoyment of the craft is key. But what attracts Andrew to writing guides is what he calls the ‘art form’ of writing. He explains that the attraction is in the fluent and artistic narrative, supported by “meticulous planning“. He enjoys the buzz when planning a new guidebook for a long-distance trail and enjoys the long ‘nights doing logistics’.

Essentially what underpins Andrews’s method of writing guidebook’s is not the finished result, (although I’m sure that’s wonderful) but the process itself. It’s the process that makes this profession exciting for Andrew.

If you have ever considered writing a hiking guidebook, the insights below may help you get started.

What’s the process of putting together a guidebook?

What I found interesting was the insight that guidebooks are not written in full the first time around. Instead, they are written in parts and walked in bits. Andrews’s first book, Lands End to John o Groats was put together over a number of trips, including weekends and holidays. He threaded the route together with long-distance paths, and filled the bits in between…

How does this turn into a full time career?

Ah, the 9-5 question. How do you leave your dull day job, and spend the rest of your days walking the hills while getting paid?

With enough savvy and a bit of healthy hustle most creative pursuits can be turned into a career. Andrew chucked as he shared his realisation that he could ‘scrape a living’ if he came up with enough ideas. Yet he was mindful that he always needs to be a step ahead, thinking of different slants on existing guidebooks.

He acknowledged that the Lake District for example probably is at full capacity for guidebooks, so thinking of something totally different is a must. Andrew laughed as he said, “I challenge everyone to find a new slant on a book on the Lake District“.

Opportunities for writing guidebooks exist in new and emerging gaps in the market (think how many ‘slow travel’ guides came out a few years ago), places people are talking about, or books that are going out of print.

Ultimately though Andrew shares that you should ‘not be afraid to ask people to take a chance on you’.

How do you get the detail to make it interesting?

Theres a big distinction between a boring guidebook and an interesting one. I’ve seen both.

Andrew keeps his guidebooks interesting by remaining curious and picking up clues from those he speaks with on the trail. For example, he will often stop at YHA’s and pubs to pick up parish newsletters and learn of local history groups, who are a source of valuable information.

When writing his Pennine Way book Andrew was particularly interested in Thomas Stephenson who originally walked the route. He made a point of going down to London to the archives at the London University to look for research and a deeper level of history on Thomas. This level of commitment gave life to the book.

Andrew says, “you have to put in the legwork and check the facts“. But he confessed, “When you are not sure you have to own up to it, and just tell the story anyway if it’s good”. A bit of creative bending of a story never goes too far wrong if done honestly.

What’s your view on walking apps?

I was curious to hear Andrews’s views on walking apps. After all apps and digital mediums have been seen as a threat to writing and physical mediums. Although books and records seem to have bucked that trend.

Andrew mentioned he does occasionally pick up apps and follow it, particularly for new places as it gives him confidence about where to go. However, he does come away feeling he can do better and provide better directions and clarity on the route.

How many guides have you written to date?

I’m keen to point out that Andrews’s success within his profession was not an overnight one. Success rarely is.

Andrew has written or contributed to just under 20 guides of various types. His more recent ones were a social history of the pubs in the Peak District, and of course, the book we talked about on the Podcast, Great Walks on the England Coast Path.

Kinder beer barrel challenge story

Any career highlights?

In 2015 Andrew celebrated his 50th Birthday. This nicely coincided with the Pennine Way also having its 50th anniversary that year. Andrew had “long harbored the desire to walk it all in one go“. Naturally, he wanted to follow this up with a publication – one that was personal to him.

He chose to focus on a different angle on the Pennine Way. After all, there are already a number of guides for this popular long-distance trail.

Andrews’s focus was to look at the social history, access, the history of the YHA on the route, footpath erosion, and of course his personal motivations for walking the path – using the way as a test against yourself.

Next steps

If writing a guidebook is of interest to you, my recommendation is this. Get out and write it.

Choose a suitable area. Perhaps somewhere less walked (how many walking guides exist for the Lincolnshire Wold’s for example?), or as Andrew says, find a different slant.

To help you on your way to guidebook writing glory, and a space next to Andrew and Alfred Wainwright here are some free ideas to get you going.

  • A guidebook linking up pubs from lands end to John o Groats – making the UK’s biggest pub crawl.
  • Modern pushchair hiking guides. Some exist but they are very aged now
  • Long distance trails that can be walked in a weekend
  • Themed guidebooks. For example, routes around the UK that tell a historic story of places involved in the English Civil War
  • Premium walking guides for those who want to stay in fancy hotels, and eat fancy meals. Think the Thames Path for the top 1%
  • Trail running guides – long distance walking guidebooks but designed for trail runners

You get the point. There are lots of angles for guidebooks that don’t involve writing yet another guidebook on the Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Hopefully you found this article helpful. Let us know what you think in the comments 👇


From reading posts on the Long Distance Hiker website and Facebook group, it’s clear that trekking across the countryside holds many advantages for our wellbeing. The mind clears, the heart calms, the soul uplifts and the body benefits: the effects are both re-energising and empowering. So, when life smacks you in the face, it’s time to get those boots on and head out the door.

Sometimes, though, it’s not as simple as that. Sometimes, things happen that just don’t give us a chance to rely on our regular coping mechanisms. In such cases, it’s how we adjust to circumstances that matters. And walking can certainly play a part in that.


Our Dad passed away peacefully in early August after a few months of declining health. During the final few weeks, my siblings and I took turns in caring for him day and night. Everything else in life became very secondary. Then, when he passed away, having to deal with grief, sort the funeral and clear his home affected us emotionally in ways that we couldn’t have known before.

Up until this time, I’d always found that an afternoon spent in the local woods or walking along the Thames was enough to reset my mind, so that I’d come back a functioning adult. But time felt so compacted and also stretched in this period that walking and nature weren’t helping me process matters.

Then in early September, on one of the rare occasions I felt like reading, I came across a chapter in ’52 Ways To Walk’ by Annabel Streets that explained walking briskly each day during times of high tension is a great way to counter stress. The walk needs to be for at least twelve minutes as this allows the chemicals in the body to have the necessary effect.

Understanding this gave me a renewed purpose in my walks: suddenly what had been a routine walk with muddled thoughts through my town, now became a near-meditative experience that helped build resolve. Reading that simple and effective information formed the crucial moment in which I dealt with my grief in a more gentle way.

Soon, my body and mind were craving a return to the countryside, and, more specifically, to trek along bodies of water.


Whilst I researched how to cope with grief, I came across the River Of Life. This analogy suggests that as we flow along in life certain events will throw us completely off course, e.g. death, unemployment and homelessness. The important thing is that we somehow keep moving, even if it feels like we’ve hit rapids, rocks or are heading for a waterfall. A person may feel endangered and in jeopardy, but movement is the key to survival.

I found this quote on www.sidebysideuae.com which I found quite consoling:

“We can all take wisdom from the river – it personifies that moving while challenged is at the core of what wisdom really is – No matter what obstacle comes my way, be it mental, be it physical, I’m going to direct my flow in the direction I want it to go.”

Again, something that I’d read had influenced me, and it was time to footslog along the River Thames again.


Over the following two weeks, I completed a solo hike along the Thames and walked half of the Blackwater Valley Path with a mate. I often recited the above quote to myself to totally immerse myself on these river walks. I’m not totally sure how or why this approach to dealing with my grief worked, but being in nature and a change of mindset left me feeling I could begin to cope better.


Hiking provides substance and purpose. Putting one foot in front of the other has so much holistic value. These thoughts were the deeper wisdom that I’d gained, and it was only natural to expand upon them. In addition, by actually taking the River Of Life analogy and putting it into practice on hikes, I recognised that I was nurturing myself as a person.

With this clarity, I decided the best thing I could do to further my understanding was to pummel my legs into oblivion by heading to the coast for a few days. After looking at a few options, I found an inexpensive and highly-rated B&B in Torquay. When travel day came, I zipped out my front door quicker than a cheetah with its backside on fire.

My dad was a funny, uncomplicated Irishman who lived life by his own rules and didn’t worry about the future. These traits were how I’d conduct myself on this break: have a laugh, keep it straightforward, and plan nothing in advance. So, on the first evening in my hotel room, I wrote down the names of the four places I’d visit – Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Dawlish – on four separate bits of paper and put them into a sock. Then, I swung the sock above my head for a few seconds, put my hand in and my first destination was revealed.


After alighting at the train station, I marched along the stream at the heart of the town centre. I followed it’s course for a couple of miles before reaching a Norman church that marked my turnaround point. From there, I headed towards the terracotta cliffs. I pondered if the sharp climbs would exhaust my legs for the days ahead, but looking out to the gentle sea on this blue sky day was enough to resuscitate my pins.

The highlight of this day, though, wasn’t anything to do with hiking or nature: sitting on the beach, being still and munching on a homity pie overloaded my senses!


I didn’t venture along clifftops or a beach on this day, but instead walked along the bustling harbour and an impossibly long pier. By the end of my time here, it astounded me that I’d knocked up nearly ten miles from wondering around this harbour town.


Walking up and down the cliff sides of the South West Coastal Path, I checked in on how I was doing: calmer than I’d been in the last few weeks. I just allowed my mind to flow unhindered to where it needed to be. With Dad’s presence as resounding as the wave breaks against the rocks below, I realised that grief is a very personal journey, and very much as uproarious or serene as the sea itself. This comprehension was an answer I’d been looking for without knowing it. Accepting this further wisdom was key to me coping.


The sea views calmed and mesmerised me. I understood that bodies of water played a central role to me dealing with my grief – and hiking underpinned that. Furthermore, I grasped that the importance of being by the sea, a river or a stream was that by observing the flow of water, on a deeper level I was keeping myself in the flow of life. This was another sprinkle of wisdom that I cherished in my heart.

Another ten-miler through the town’s hilly streets and along the beach left me more battered than the cod in a seafront chippy. A gentle Irish voice sang in my head: “Go to the pub, son. Go to the pub.” After a couple of pints, I’d recuperated and noticed the enduring lightening of my mood carrying on from the previous days.

And with this, I toasted my dad in the full knowledge that I’d found a way to cope with my grief.


My family and I travel to Ireland in December to lay our Dad’s ashes next to his mum’s grave. You’ll be home to rest, Dad. Every time I hike near water, I know you’ll always be close.

To anybody reading this, I heartily recommend a good long river or coastal walk the next time difficult situations arise. Hiking and spending time in nature truly have the ability to help us overcome adversity and the challenges of life, and help us to build fortitude.