Long Distance Walking

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After a recent trip to Italy where I completed 2 Caminos (Mediterranean word for walk or way traditionally associated with long walks or pilgrimages) totalling 300km, I thought it worth reflecting on the experience, as well as hints and tips if any of you are thinking of a long distance walk.

Firstly long distance walking (LDW) is a fantastic experience for anyone.  It opens you up to the environment in a very intimate way, approaching towns slowly and seeing every aspect before reaching it’s centre, speaking with locals and discovering small treasures and buildings along the way – it’s an amazing way to experience an area / country.  The act of walking is also very natural and after a few days of walking, you feel a sense of everything being right in the world and finding your purpose.  Not only is walking every day – day after day – physically beneficial, but it’s also mentally refreshing because it helps clear your mind of troubles and constant ‘chatter’ – allowing you to focus on nature, walking, environment, and beauty instead.  There’s really nothing like it.

If you are thinking of undertaking an LDW then here are a few tips to help you.

  • Shoes – as light as possible, breathable, flexible, and with a wide front to help prevent toe blisters.  Don’t wear leather boots, trainers are better.
  • Clothing – pack light.  You can usually wash clothes along the way.  Take a couple of each main item (shorts, tshirt, etc) plus waterproofs, a hoodie and underwear – this should be all you need.  Some walking gear now contains fibres which actively eliminate odour too (Montane’s Polygiene is a good example)
  • Rucksack – the fit of the rucksack in paramount.  If it’s sits tight on your hips properly then it doesn’t matter how heavy it is – you’ll be fine.
  • Blisters – you will get some.  99.9% do.  I never ever get blisters but do on an LDW.  Have a good blister strategy and management routine.  I use Kinesiology Tape cut into small pieces so it allows them to breath.
  • Plan – plan your route, try get some GPX files (which download to your device to show you the route), follow an official route if possible so you know it’s clear, signposted and safe (you’ll also meet others en-route then too!), book accommodation and restaurants in advance where possible, and if you’re doing it abroad do learn a few phrases in the local language.
  • Rucksack items – along with toiletries I take very little else.  This time i did take a penknife, a pack of cards, Nordic Walking poles (of course!), sun hat / glasses, and then documents / money.
  • Hydration – this is key.  If you’re hydrated you’ll be fine.  Think of where you’re going and how hot it’ll be.  You’ll need at least 2 litres a day, up to 6 litres in a hot country in summer!
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