Whilst waiting for my next walking slot I have been doing a lot of thinking with regard to where it should be.
I had originally wanted to walk the Cairngorms in Scotland. I have never been there, but on looking at the map of the place I immediately fell in love with its sheer scale. I had produced a detailed route plan for the place, but once I did some research it became apparent that there is a lot of snow there.
Whilst I do have winter hiking experience (see https://ukbackpacker.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/back-from-my-68km-solo-black-mountains-walk/), I don’t have any experience with either crampons or snow axes – both of which would be needed for the Cairngorms. Rather than put myself and potentially others at risk, I have decided to abandon that walk until I get some proper training and the kit.
This meant that I had to find a new destination!
At first I couldn’t think of anywhere to go. I think that my recent walks have inadvertently resulted in me slowly transitioning from walker to climber. This has in some ways made me blind to all the great places in the Uk that have much lower hill elevations.
However, on reflection I remembered the fun and the sheer feeling of ‘rightness’ that I got from hiking in Dartmoor. I don’t know what it is about that place, but when I’m there it feels like home. I don’t get this feeling anywhere else in the Uk – odd really.
I guess Dartmoor had initially fallen under the radar because its highest hills just about push the 600 metre mark and in my blind quest to climb high, I had all but forgotten that it is a great place to walk.
Luckily I have broken out of the rather narrow must-climb-high mindset and have started looking at other destinations for their natural beauty rather than the height of their hills and mountains. I guess this is an easy trap to fall into.
The planned Dartmoor trip is going to be another 4+1 day walk. However, I expect to get there at around 1300 which means I will only have around 3-4 hours of daylight on day 1. So in effect day 1 and the spare day will be fairly low mileage. However, that doesn’t matter, it’s the walk itself that counts!
In terms of equipment there are only a few minor changes. I think I’m now at the point where I pretty much have the optimal setup for my style of walking.
The first thing I wanted to address were the blisters that I was getting. You might want to avert your vision before looking at the next photo!
To help prevent these, I will be taking heal plasters, though luckily not of the see-through type that trashed a pair of hiking socks on my last walk. In addition to these I am going to be trying out a different set of hiking socks by a company called 1000 mile. These socks are double walled – almost like wearing two pairs of socks. I’m hoping that all the sock friction will be happening between the two layers rather than on the heels of my feet.
Another item of kit that I bought is the ‘Evernew Titanium Companion Cup (EBY265) shown in the picture above – thanks for the recommendation John! This will take the place of the plastic protector for the Jet Boil Sol. The cup fits perfectly on the bottom of the JetBoil and not only provides much greater protection, but is lighter and provides me with another cooking option.
Speaking of the JetBoil I am a little concerned about how it will perform in the cold. I will do some research on this as I don’t want to be caught out. The Trangia system that I have might be bulky and heavy, but it does work well in sub-zero conditions, even if it can be a pain to light!
After my research, it could be that I end up buying a for-winter-cooking system, but I am hoping that here in the Uk at least, the Jetboil Sol will be fine.
The final piece of kit to be changed is the hat! The previous one I had never really fitted properly and got quite uncomfortable. This one seems to fit me like a glove and is very warm.
All the planning is done, and the holiday is booked off of work. The only thing left to do is order the Freeze Dried food. I’m hoping to go with Fuizion, but I can only use them if they will be able to deliver on time. If they can’t, I will have use them on my following January walk and use Mountain House food for this walk.