The Suffolk Coast Path: Planning

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At some point in the next week, I will be starting my first ever (solo) backpacking trip. I plan on this being just the first leg of a very long adventure, around the entire coastline of mainland UK, but because that’s kinda terrifying and overwhelming, I’m starting with the Suffolk Coast Path.

The path starts in Felixstowe and runs up the coast to Lowestoft, over 60 miles of marsh, heath and foreshore. I’m hoping to average about 10 miles a day, as I get my hiking legs, so it should take me 6 days to complete this section. Assuming everything goes to plan…

The Route

I’m planning on walking northbound, which seems to be opposite of how everyone else does it! I have the guidebook Suffolk Coast and Heaths Walks by Laurence Mitchell, which has been a good place to start with my planning. It breaks the route down in to stages, and although I’ll be doing them in reverse, they seem like pretty good spacing. Obviously, I won’t know how well I’ll stick to it until I’m out there, but it’s helpful to have. I’ve also downloaded the route map on the Hiiker app (I have the paid subscription, I’ll let you know in a future post if it’s worth it!), which also breaks things down into stages.

Guide book for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Walks by Laurence Mitchell, with my Hiking O’Hara cap.

Food

Now, I could carry enough food for six days from the get-go, but that seems like excessive when I’ll be passing through villages etc. So, my plan is to carry three days of food/snacks, and restock along the way.

Breakfast: Moma Porridge sachet x 2 (two because breakfast is the most important meal of the day… for me, anyway!), with some added raisins.

Lunch: Tortilla wrap with cheese and pepperoni, or a pasta meal, depending on if I want to cook at lunch.

Dinner: Pasta, instant mash or rice, depending on my mood (I’ll probably have one of each to start the trek), with some added protein of either pepperoni, jerky or a vegan meat substitute that I have on order to try.

Throw in some snickers bars, trail mix, and nuts, and I should be good to go.

Water

I have two water bottles, one 1 litre and one just under. I also have the collapsable ones that came with my Sawyer water filter, so in total I’ll have capacity for about 4 litres. Obviously I won’t be carrying that all day every day. I hope to be able to fill up just before I set up camp, so that I have plenty for cooking/cleaning, and then top up in the morning before I start the days hike.

Emergencies

I don’t yet have a personal locator beacon, although it’s on my wish list, so for me, my emergency planning equates to making sure that my housemates have my itinerary, have the GPS locator active on my phone, and location sharing enabled. That way my housemates can check my location if I haven’t checked in, and if necessary, call 999. For this leg of my trip, I should never be more than a 90 minute drive from home, so if something does come up, it’ll be easy enough to bail and head for home. I know no-one likes to think about things going wrong, but it’s an essential part of the planning. Being safe, knowing your back up plan, and having people you trust on stand-by, are all easy things you can do to make sure you (and your loved ones) sleep soundly at night.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning a backpacking trip. And when it comes right down to it, I don’t really know what I’m doing! This is my first trip, first time planning, and there are so many unknowns. But I’m sick and tired of putting off the things I want to do, because I’m not ‘ready’. If I wait until I’m ready, I’ll never leave. So, it’s time to pack all the things, camel up, and hit the trail. Wish me luck folks!

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