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Advice needed on a long walk!


Alboy
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Hi

 

I am thinking about doing the Oxfam Trailwalker walk in 2008. You can find a link here...

 

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/fundraise/trailwalker/

 

So, in summary a 100km walk in 30 hours or less, over the South Downs, nonstop. I've plotted last years route in Memory Map and the total vertical climb is the equivalent of Ben Nevis and Snowdon combined!

 

Aside from the fact that I am manifestly physically unfit (but can work on that at least in the next 6 months!) I wonder what general tips you can give me? There must be plenty of experienced walkers in this forum. I'm not planning on doing any caches on the way (but if there are any around I COULD do them on one of our training walks along the route I guess?) as I think the team would not appreciate any diversions or delays, as its long enough in all regards as it is!

 

So my questions are hopefully all practical in nature...

 

Should I take poles? For all or just the ascents and descents? 1 or 2?

Shoes or boots? Think I've probably already decided on shoes given the terrain is not harsh I'm told.

Given the walk will involve walking through the night, any thoughts on the best methods of illumination or route? Is a headtorch enough?

I'd like a GPS with me, more to monitor progress etc than for the route which I'm told is well signposted, though I would like to be able to upload the route from memory map so a PC interface would be important. I have Memory Map on my PDA but keeping it charged will be a nightmare I think, so does anyone have anything that will last 24 hours or so? For those using AA batteries will the unit turn off when I swop them over? Will it lose the history of the walk so far (I appreciate I can save it but will the average speed, distance walked so far etc be lost?)

What should I absolutely 100% carry with me at all times? Bear in mind I hope to have a support crew who will be in a car and able to meet me every 10km or so if required, so waterproofs, more water, food (thoughts?! Regular snacks or a sarnie stop 3/4 times?) etc can be carried by the car in case.

I'm thinking of a small camelbak with 5-10l carrying capacity should be enough.

 

Any other tips, thoughts, ANYTHING much appreciated!

 

I plan to drop some Trailwalker caches on my training walks so keep an eye out!!

 

Thanks

 

Alistair / Alboy

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Hi Alistair,

 

I go hiking in Snowdonia and The Lakes. My top tips would be as follows.

 

Do get fit.

You'll enjoy the walk (it still is a long challenge) a whole lot more.

Sticks - should you, shouldn't you?

I'm assuming your training / getting fit will also include plenty of long hikes, so hopefully you'll find this out as you're going along. I had to use sticks all the time, made going up hill much easier, then as my cardio improved with many visits to the leisure centre, I only started needing the sticks to go down to ease the pressure on my knees. Since I've lost more weight, I don't actually use my sticks hardly ever now. But I always carry them as a contingency, because the time I didn't have them and I was walking down from Y Lliwedd and my knees did start hurting- it took about two weeks of REST (no caching!! :ph34r: ) for my knees before I could do any serious walking / hiking. My knees just hurt so much.

 

Lighting

Headtorch. Its a winner every time. You can keep your hands free, it always points where you're looking, battery life can last 50 hours or so. You need to do your own research on that - but definitely an LED headtorch. Handy for caching too!

 

Footwear

I note that you're relying on someone else's advice about the route you'll follow. Read up some more. I'd wear boots. But that's my opinion. Plenty of people use waterproof type trainers (from Merell, Columbia Sportswear, Meindl etc). Trainers are lighter and therefore will not physically tire you so much. Trainers tend not to support your ankle so much and if you end up physically tired and dragging your feet, this is where I think boots come in and protect your ankles as you become more prone to tripping on stones / rough surfaces.

GPS

Make sure you have a waterproof one. When you change the batteries, it will remember the previous route. You say that you may follow the route from your GPS. I'd suggest a Garmin Etrex Venture HC. You can prepare your route beforehand and this Etrex will guide you along it. Its waterproof. It has a high sensitivity chipset. It can be bought for under £140 from ebuyer.com including delivery. I don't know what your budget is and this maybe far too much.

 

Food

If you've got a support car carrying your meals (sarnies etc) then I think nibbly stuff. Things to keep you going. Nuts, dried fruit. All sounds a bit new age, but nutritionally, really good stuff. Dried fruit full of carbs for energy. Nuts have protein to keep your muscles repairing. Little treats as well - a few choccy things if you like chocolate. And bananas. The walkers friend! :laughing:

 

Water

Your walk is going to be in July. Now we could actually have a summer (!!!) I'd add some salt to your water. Literally a pinch. I only started doing this after summer last year where I experienced horrendous leg cramps coming down from Snowdon and from Carnedd Llewelyn on anther walk. I read into it, started adding a pinch of salt to the 3 litres of fluid I take on a walk, and since then, including all this year, no leg cramps. Maybe a co-incidence, but that's what worked for me.

 

Massive post, I'm sure others will have opinions, and mine are all offered in good faith. Hope you find them useful.

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<snip>I had to use sticks all the time, made going up hill much easier, then as my cardio improved with many visits to the leisure centre, I only started needing the sticks to go down to ease the pressure on my knees. Since I've lost more weight, I don't actually use my sticks hardly ever now.

 

But rather than sticks, poles are highly recommended as a walking aid for any hiker, even the super-fit. I'd recommend the spring-loaded ones though.

 

Have a look here.

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In May I done the West Highland Way (95 miles) in 48 hours for charity. From doing that I have the following advice.

 

Take lightweight poles, I used them and they helped a lot.

I would recommend boots espescially if you are hiking at night, you will need the ankle support.

A headtorch with backup batteries should be enough, as the nights are short then, but a small maglite wouldn't go amiss and doesn't add a lot of weight.

I've only ever used a Geko 201, I have plotted a route on it and it worked alright for me. It also remembers the route when you change batteries.

I would carry waterproofs, water and high energy bars, eating sandwiches when you meet your support.

I would suggest a larger camelbak such as a 2 litre, it happened to me and could happen to yourself, my support missed me and by the time we met up again I had used all my water and food, it will be hotter in July than what it was for me. I was carrying a 2 litre camelbak.

I would also suggest buying some Compeed blister plasters, you never know, keeping them in a small 1st aid pouch.

 

I hope that helps?

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I would say 2 walking poles and use them all the time, believe me they will save your knees from damage.

 

Also getyourself some trail mix made up, you can buy it ready made but seeing as how you have a few months try making your own up to suit your tastes. Plenty of sites have advice on what you should include in the mix. Mint Cake as well helps when your flagging and need a rush. Also I allways carry 2 Mars bars, If for any reason you miss your support or have a accident they are great at keeping your morale up and hunger at bay.

 

Head torch (a good one) with a seperate battery pack. + spare batteries and bulb.

 

Whistle a orange rescue one. only use in an emergency.

 

Camel back 2lt and sip regularly not long deep drafts (hope that makes sense)

 

Space blanket small light and (god forbid) if you need it a life saver.

 

Boots every time over shoes, get the best you can afford.

 

Socks go to a proper outdoor shop and pay at least £10 (speak to the staff) these will last you forever and save on blisters. In fact buy them now for the training period. A good set will be made up of different materials and will look like a pre-school group designed them but your feet will thank you.

 

If your walking at night as a group/team, buy some flashing lights that you can attach to the back of your camel back and switch them on when it gets dark also add a couple of reflective strips to your cuffs. Then cars or others can see you. I know your thinking that well i have a head torch on why do I need this, Head torches shine forward and are good for that reflective tape and a flashing light will warn cars coming from behind that something is there, and a flashing safety light can be seen for miles out in the countryside.

 

If your budget streches to it a set of walky talkies so each member can contact the rest of the team if you are slowing down or getting int difficulties in the dark.

 

Learn how to read a map properly and how to use a compass.

 

Sorry if I seem to be going on a telling you to carry stuff you may not need, but I take young people out on the moors up here in Northumberland and on the Wall, and the amount of folk who get either hurt or into trouble because they think its safe up here near roads or its only a moor, or they are wearing the wrong stuff or (and this is my pet gripe) they can not read a map or use a compass unbelievable.

 

Anyway enough whinging about fools enjoy your hike

 

Remeber its no good asking for a rescue if you dont know where you are, friends in the rescue services will tell you tales of folk with mobiles who ring to say they are lost, and can they come and get them. When asked where they think they are on the map they say I dont have a map and i am ringing you because i am lost and want you to find me. :grin:

 

Enjoy, be safe

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So my questions are hopefully all practical in nature...

Should I take poles? For all or just the ascents and descents? 1 or 2?

For walking that distance I'd recommend 2 poles at all times and, as has been said, shock absorbing ones. Can be a bit expensive though :grin:

Shoes or boots?

Boot, Boot, Boots - shoes will be a VERY bad idea. Get some good ankle supporting boots with a good, firm sole. Spend as much as you can afford - a good pair will cost £100-£150 but will last ages (unless you plan on regularly walking 100km! :lol:

Is a headtorch enough?

A headtorch is a great idea so long as you take back up batteries. I use a Petzl with 2 sets of bulbs - 1 standard bulb for spot light and a set of LED's for a wider beam. Take a wind up torch just in case. I got one recently that you can use to charge up phones, PDA's etc. @£6 from Morrisons :lol:

 

I'd like a GPS with me,....

If you close the applications down before changing the battery it should save your data. Taking plenty of spare batteries for a PDA might be a bit expensive. You could always get 2 and have one being charged in the support vehicle :(

 

What should I absolutely 100% carry with me at all times?....

I'm thinking of a small camelbak with 5-10l carrying capacity should be enough.

First off a 5-10 litre Camelbak isn't small, don't forget that will weigh 5-10 kilos! I think a 3litre one should suffice. You could take an isotonic drink in it but you will have a problem cleaning it after as it's a bit sticky when you've used it. Energy tablets/bars are a good idea as is chocolate, nuts, bananas, kendal mint cake etc. Walking as far as you are you'll want to travel light. Keep some food on you but let the support vehicle carry the bulk.

 

You'll probably want some waterproofs - trousers, jacket and a hat.

 

Whistle for emergencies

 

First aid kit

 

Any other tips, thoughts, ANYTHING much appreciated!

 

TWO pairs of socks - 1 thin, 1 thick - will help reduce the chance of getting blisters

 

Wear-in your boots thoroughly!

 

Have several practise runs over similar distances before you leave,

 

Use a black bin bag as a ruck sack liner to keep your stuff dry,

 

Walking that far - make sure you get on well with the people you're walking with :(

Edited by Nediam
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I do lots of long walks all year round. For the area you're going to be crossing, I'd recommend boots and walking poles. I have a pair of Brasher Supalite GTX boots, which weigh less than many trainers, will help you balance and will keep your feet dry (a major consideration even in summer!). They aren't suitable for mountains (not good on rocky or very steep and rough ground), but perfect for lesser hills and general countryside walks. Not the cheapest, but a good investment as they should last many years.

 

Whether you use one or two poles is up to you. I have a Foretrex GPS which leaves both hands free and allows me to make up and follow a very detailed route with frequent turns. I hardly use a map for navigation, even on a long and complicated walk, but I print off the relevant sections from Memory Map so I can enjoy the walk better.

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I'm not planning on doing any caches on the way (but if there are any around I COULD do them on one of our training walks along the route I guess?) as I think the team would not appreciate any diversions or delays, as its long enough in all regards as it is!

Several others have offered some good advice about the practicalities - here's a link to a bookmark list of caches along the South Downs Way

 

I once started it but gave up after only a few miles when my companion's back trouble flared up :grin:

 

Good luck!

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Where do you start. My main advice would be to start training yesterday. :D Walk the terrain you intend to walk, building up the distance gradually. Make sure you carry a daysack for your training. I would pick the hilliest stretch to start my training on. I personally wouldn't bother with poles, though you if you can, borrow some to see how you get on with them.

I would wear boots for a walk of this length (though I do like shoes in the summer) for the support. Again, wear the gear you have trained in. Have a spare pair of worn in boots / shoes in the car.

Test everything. Make sure your GPSr can handle the route lengths and number of routes you use. Reset GPSr trip figures at the off.

I would recommend a Petzl MYO 5 head torch. Batteries will last 70+ hrs and coverage is superb.

 

A lot of the normal recommendations will be circumvented as you are meeting up with the car so frequently. Make sure they are well stocked with water / food / dry clothes / batteries etc.

A mobile phone and first aid kit goes without saying. I assume there will be manned stations on a walk like this.

 

You may need hat & gloves at night time even in July. :lol:

 

Take a camera (case on belt) - and use it. Have fun. :(:(:(

 

Keep your eyes open for good places to lay caches. With all that walking you're bound to find some. :(:grin::lol:

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All good advice so far. I use poles if the terrain is rugged and particularly if it's steep and rocky but not if it's just undulating. I've walked some of the South Downs way and based on that knowledge, I probably wouldn't use them. However, if you're unsure, a pair of lightweight, telescopic 'Leki' poles strapped to the side of your rucksack probably wouldn't go amiss.

 

I can't get on with lamps strapped to my head... my hat brim gets in the way. I regularly walk across country to visit my sister, a round trip of 15 miles and invariably it's dark for most of the return leg. I carry a 4 cell Maglight in my Rucksack but rarely use it as using a torch completely screws your 'night vision'. Once you're away from 'civilisation' there's usually enough moon / star light to see where your going and if you're quiet, it's surprising how close you can get to nocturnal wildlife... badgers, deer, foxes etc. They'll be long gone at the first sign of torchlight. If there's a gang of you, they'll probably be long gone anyway :grin:

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I do lots of long walks all year round. For the area you're going to be crossing, I'd recommend boots and walking poles. I have a pair of Brasher Supalite GTX boots, which weigh less than many trainers, will help you balance and will keep your feet dry (a major consideration even in summer!). They aren't suitable for mountains (not good on rocky or very steep and rough ground), but perfect for lesser hills and general countryside walks. Not the cheapest, but a good investment as they should last many years.

 

Hear hear! That's what I use. I am on to my second pair. My first pair lasted me 13 years, so at £125 they were a reasonable investment. There is an ebay seller selling them cheaper than the shops but only buy footware off ebay if you have tried the same model on in a proper shop first!!!. Brashers are as light as a feather and as comfy as a pair of trainers, without compromising on performance.

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...it's surprising how close you can get to nocturnal wildlife... badgers, deer, foxes etc. They'll be long gone at the first sign of torchlight. If there's a gang of you, they'll probably be long gone anyway :lol:

Although I agree it's great to walk by moon light when possible it's often not possible and I find I see more wildlife with the head torch. This log (second half) is one of several examples. A good head torch will reflect in the eyes of most larger animals at an incredible distance off. Sometimes it can freak you out a bit though. :grin:

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I'm thinking of a small camelbak with 5-10l carrying capacity should be enough.

 

I would suggest a larger camelbak such as a 2 litre, it happened to me and could happen to yourself, my

I had misread your post. Because you had said small my eyes had read the size as 0.5 - 1L, seeing another post and re-reading yours I now see it is 5 - 10 litres. (Do camelbak make them that large?) That is huge and far to much to carry. With support every 10 km's or so you really are talking no larger than 2 - 3 litres.

 

Although it wasn't planned my 2L pack lasted me for 25 miles, it did run out just before I managed to meet my support again though.

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Speaking as a keen but not very experienced walker, I have done a 15mile section of the South Downs over two days (Duke Of Edinburgh) I can say that it's very undulating!

For this walk we were carrying heavy packs - avoid this at all costs; it really does affect both your balance and stamina.

 

I'll be following this thread with interest - I'd like to do this walk but don't think I'd be able to manage it - I may try a smaller walk for charity.

 

S

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I carry a 4 cell Maglight in my Rucksack but rarely use it as using a torch completely screws your 'night vision'. Once you're away from 'civilisation' there's usually enough moon / star light to see where your going

 

I'm with Pharisee on this one (especially if it's a clear night) as it's full moon on July 18.

 

All I can add to advice already given is remember that you will be walking a long way on a very hard surface and prepare accordingly. Based in Cumbria I'd probably include the 40 mile Keswick to Barrow road walk in my training. Before anyone dismisses this as completely b-nkers I'll add that my previous history includes walking 100 miles in 35 hours from Winchester to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way .

 

MBF

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Some good advice from others so far.....

 

I would also suggest 2 litres of water. It's as a good compromise with weight- you can always get the support vehicle to carry more if you need a top up. I also tend to carry mint cake, nuts, dried fruit.

 

A head torch is handy and when I've walked at night it's always been sufficent - I have one that doubles as a clip if you perfer to pop it on a belt etc.

 

There are also some great mid cut boots available if you don't want to wear a regular boot in summer - you still get ankle support but also better flexability and they are lighter.

 

I would also say yes to poles - get ones with a spring in though.

 

Otherwise common sense stuff like a map, small compass, waterproofs, plasters, mobile phone, wear a couple of layers and some decent socks!

 

Most of all Good Luck :blink:

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Wow, that is a really fantastic response from everyone, I'm really overwhelmed! I guess with all the effort you guys have put into posting replies, I can't really back out now can I!? ;)

 

One small point I should have clarified re the Camelbak...

 

I want a Camelbak that carries 2L (could I get away with 1?) of water but that has about 5-10L STORAGE for odds and sods etc. I'm not planning on carrying 10L of water! :blink:

 

I will get down to do the trail in parts before the walk, and hope to do the parts at night at least a couple of times for some familiarity. I can't believe someone kindly looked up the state of the moon on the day, awesome, thanks MBFace!

 

I'll certainly look into Trail Mix. Not come across that before so another thing to get to terms with.

 

One question someone might know the answer to...

 

I picked up a pair of second hand walkie talkies as a swap in a cache (thanks Tjapukai!) and they seem to work fine. If I get a couple more should they be able to inter-operate? Oart of me says that 2 should be enough as a group of 4 prob shouldn't split into any more than 2 groups at any one time, but if someone knows the answer?

 

Re training I have a reasonable guide from the NZ Oxfam site.

 

http://www.oxfam.org.nz/oxfam%5Ftrailwalke...ing%20schedules

 

We have set our sights on the beginner section! If anyone has any thoughts/comments, I'm all ears, all advice gratefully received in the spirit in which it is given!

 

Thanks again for everyone's responses. It's been much appreciated.

 

Alboy

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There is an ebay seller selling them cheaper than the shops but only buy footware off ebay if you have tried the same model on in a proper shop first!!!. Brashers are as light as a feather and as comfy as a pair of trainers, without compromising on performance.

Just bought a pair of Brasher Hillmaster's online for £80 including next day delivery. The guy in Blacks (when I tried them on) told me you couldn't get them for less that £100 as they are so popular. We know better though. :D:blink:;)

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One small point I should have clarified re the Camelbak...

 

I want a Camelbak that carries 2L (could I get away with 1?) of water but that has about 5-10L STORAGE for odds and sods etc. I'm not planning on carrying 10L of water! :blink:

 

That makes sense now ;) 1L is obviously going to be lighter, but if you miss your support you may be wishing you had 2L instead. I personaly wouldn't use anything less than 2L for such a walk.

Just because you have a 2L pack, it doesn't mean you have to put 2L's in it!!

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One more point that no one else (including me) has mentioned, a route card, Hopefully this has been thought through but you need to work out the speed your group hopes to achieve at different points on the walk. That way if your support is expecting to meet you at 6 and you are still missing at 7 they can start to panic.

 

If you go to Scoutbase UK and enter route card in the fact sheets you can download what you need for free, they also have a sheet on how to estimate how long each section should take you. Naismiths Rule. It may seem complicated at first but its a good rule on long hikes.

 

If you have 2 walkie talkies already then any others should be able to be used with them. If you go out with them, often you can always hear folk using theirs and the radio band they operate in in the UK is quite small so they should be ok, remember though they only have a range of only 3k or so. I would certainly say 1 each or failing that 1 between 2 as long as you stick in your pairs.

 

Distance walks are a challenge and I have done a few over the years just go out and enjoy the feeling you get when you complete, knackered, sore, aching, soaked the list goes on but believe me you will have a massive grin on your face when you finish, and when you see the finish boy is that a buzz.

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We've done a number of long distance walks including the South Downs Way although it took us 9 days to do the full route from Winchester to Eastbourne. I notice your walk finishes at Brighton so I don't know how much it follows the route. My advice for what it's worth is 1) Don't under-estimate the challenge 2) Defintely wear walking boots 3) Take a pole - you will be grateful for it if you have to walk from Birling Gap to Eastbourne and it will give you something to twirl on the flat bits :anicute:

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If you would like support in training for your walk you couldn't do better than to look at the Long Distance Walkers Association website where you will find details of varying lengths of challenge events taking place all over the country ranging from 26 to 100 miles. These events are supported in that you are provided with a route description and there are regular checkpoints along the way supplying food and drinks. There are of course plenty of like-minded people to walk with. If you check out your local group on the website you will see that there are regular 20 mile guided walks which would be great for your training with plenty of advice on the way.

 

I am secretary of the Norfolk and Suffolk Group and I can vouch that walking with the LDWA is a great way to make friends and to improve fitness. Good luck! :anicute:

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I am secretary of the Norfolk and Suffolk Group and I can vouch that walking with the LDWA is a great way to make friends and to improve fitness. Good luck! :anicute:

 

Good to see another LDWA member here. (Greetings from number 295.) I came across LDWA Trailwalker advice on the website the other night but couldn't remember how to do links :unsure: .

 

Living in Epsom in the early days of the LDWA the Tanners Marathon was my first ever long distance walk and I eventually graduated to the organising committee. The route varies from year to year but I have fond (?) memories of slogging my way back up onto the North Downs after about 25 miles on several occasions. Since it's held in early July it would make a great training walk.

 

To keep this geocaching related - how about plotting a route with caches about 10 km or so apart to get yourself used to doing that distance between checkpoints/meetings with the support crew.

 

MBF

ex member of Surrey LDWA Group

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I expect that I'm just repeating others, but I can't be bothered to read the thread - and its good to have lots of opinions!

 

My own experience is based on 4 weeks backpacking (with 4stone rucsacs) in the Alps, and several week-long backpacking trips in the UK, including a fair chunk of the SDW.

 

Poles are a personal 'thing' - I hate using them, can't get on with them, they get in the way, etc etc... which goes against what a lot of others say! You really need to try them out! Borrow a couple froma friend if you can!

 

Boots. I would wear GOOD walking shoes rather than boots. I have a pair of zamberlan leather boots which I adore and have served me well for 13 years so far, but they only really come out in winter, when I'm expecting mud, or when I'm carrying heavy loads. I have a pair of Salomen trail shoes with good soles which I wear for most walks, including weekend walks with a 'minimal' load. You need to balance the extra ankle support from leather boots against the lighter and more breathable shoes. My opinion from what i remember of the SDW is that you should be OK in shoes. If you intend to walk in the pitch black, without ANY light, then you may prefer the support of the boots, but personally I'd shy away from doing this, as you could find yourself walking off the edge of a large ledge! Boots won't help then....

 

GPS - no idea! I use a PDA, like yourself, which would be useless in this situation! How long do the USB battery packs last for these?

 

Supplies - if you are getting met at regular intervals, then keep it light - nibbles, drinking equipment (about 2L probably fine) and I would also take some first aid equipment yourself - survival bag/blanket and the usual bits, in case of emergencies - oh, and a whistle!

 

Some way of commuicating with your support - mobiles presumably - make sure its charged!

 

Good luck!

 

You going to the pub on the 18th December? Be good to see you there!

 

Dave

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I have a garmin etrex legend which is good for 15+ hours and rechargeables with a charger which can be used at home or in car . the batts cost £4-5 for pack of 4 charger cost me £22 from photoglossy.com (inc delivery)

deffo get and learn to use compass (it doesnt break down)

walking socks are designed to wick moisture away from your feet , dont use cotton socks , you`ll prob get blisters

break in the boots way before the walk

 

its all good advice in this forum .... have a good one :anitongue:

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