The topic of clothing and equipment might be a little mundane for most, but I have included it for those who might be planning walking trips of their own. The summary, for all others, is that I will be travelling light, with the exception of lots of (hopefully) surplus things to keep me safe, dry and warm, and to protect me from sun, exposure, insects, nettles and brambles.
As I don’t intend to camp, my pack is quite small – 30 litres apparently, although I’ve not tried filling it with anything so measurable. From past experience I will need to keep the weight to around 8 kg (so a total of 10 kg or so when I’m carrying two litres of water and a pasty or two). My experience from the Pennine Way and other hikes is that this is a manageable weight given my size and frame, and I try to keep the weight distribution even across the two sides and with heavier items towards the top. I use a smallish pack to enable unrestricted arm movement for my nordic walking, as far as possible, and this precludes carrying a tent and camping gear. Having such things as water, phone, camera, compass, sun cream, insect repellent, waterproofs, etc, handy is key, as there is always a tendency to ‘make do without’ rather than to stop and unpack on the trail. My plan is that everything has a correct and identifiable place (not just for the first day), and usually this means a complete unpacking each evening and a systematic re-packing before departure the next morning.
Along with my walking poles, my boots are the most important item. I have used a great pair of Scarpa boots for recent treks but these are just starting to wear out, so I have bought an identical pair in which I have done a couple of hundred miles. Others advocate taking no alternative footwear, but I will carry a lightweight pair of trainers for evenings and emergency use. Clothing-wise, three pairs of boxers and socks, two of lightweight trousers, a base layer, the three charity T-shirts, a fleece, a windproof top, a hi-viz vest, a lightweight neck scarf, and my waterproofs, along with a thin pair of gloves and a light wide-brimmed sunhat, comprise my walking wardrobe.
My wash kit is not extensive – a plastic bottle of all-purpose liquid soap serves a multitude of purposes and eventualities, along with a toothbrush, a disposable razor, and various miniature toiletries that Boots, very conveniently, dispense for such expeditions. A first aid kit containing basic medical essentials, especially plasters, and over-the counter anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, paracetamol, ‘keep you going’ and ‘stop you going’ tablets, is a must, and I have added a tick remover and nail scissors. Sunglasses, sun cream, moisturiser, water sterilisation tablets and insect repellent complete that bag. I will also have contact lens solution, spare lenses, and reading glasses.
Finally, a compass, camera (small Go-pro), phone and charger, penknife, tissues, emergency cereal bars, and (being over 60 now) a notebook and pen. And that’s it really. I have an even bigger inventory of spare items and replacement kit on a spare bed at home, all in case anything needs to be forwarded to me by those holding the fort.
Not the most interesting of subjects perhaps, for those still with me this far, but all very central to the success of my mission!