As with the question ‘How long is a piece of string?’ this is not an easy question to answer. Your unique and individual challenge will depend upon a variety of factors such as your level of fitness & stamina and the time of year you’re undertaking the walk.
Thousands of people undertake the walk each year. They come from every walk of life. The vast majority of these walkers do not go walking every weekend or indeed every month – however, they have all increased their level of fitness and stamina before the walk. Undertaken gradually and over similar terrain your ‘training’ should culminate in a 15 mile walk on each two consecutive days.
Also remember that the level of fitness and stamina you require will also be influenced by your choice of accommodation provision (camping/YHA/B&B) and whether or not you take advantage of our Door2Door baggage movement service.
The weather in the UK is unpredictable and varied. Be prepared for anything from torrential wind and driving rain to dry, hot (80°F) and sunburn sunny. If you undertake the walk between October and April you may also have the additional threat of frost and snow. When planning your walk also remember that the number of daylight hours varies considerably in the UK. The longest day of the year is in Mid June (Sunrise: 04:30; Sunset: 22:00) and the shortest in Mid December (Sunrise: 09:00; Sunset: 16:30).
Most people undertake the walk between May and September. Daylight hours are much longer and weather more likely to be favourable. The longest day of the year is in Mid June (Sunrise: 04:30; Sunset: 22:00) and the shortest in Mid December (Sunrise: 09:00; Sunset: 16:30). Another issue to consider is whether or not you intend to use our door2door baggage service that operates between Easter (Mid April) and Whit Half-Term (Mid October). Unless you are camping you may also want to consider that the fact that ‘honeypot’ tourist locations get very busy – and very booked up – very quickly. Avoid Bank Holidays, when accommodation providers are often unwilling to accept single night reservations and if possible, start your walk mid-week. Most people start their walk at weekends which creates accommodation availability difficulties in some locations.
The simple answer to this is yes and the earlier the better. We start to accept bookings for the following year from September onwards. Long gone are the days when you can turn up and find accommodation – to say nothing of the heartache of phoning all accommodation providers after a hard days walking only to find the nearest available bed is a mile and a half away and off route.
The amount of money you will need will vary dependant on the nature of your accommodation (camping/YHA/B&B) and the amount of beer you drink. It is a pub crawl you’re going on isn’t it? No, but seriously, these costs add up.
Typical B&B accommodation costs around £20 per person per night for a standard room or £25 per person per night for an en-suite room. A main course bar meal is likely to cost around £6 and drinks around £2 per pint. In addition to this, you are likely to require around £5 per person per day for a packed lunch.
You should not rely on being able to use either Travellers Cheques or Credit Cards except for paying for an evening meal or accommodation in a larger pub or inn. Hardly any B&B’s accept either Travellers Cheques or Credit Cards. Look for the Credit Card ‘icon’ displayed against entries on this site to indicate places that accept Travellers Cheques and Credit Cards.
By their very nature, many long distance walks within the UK pass through sparsely populated and remote areas. Hamlets, villages and even some towns in these places have neither a bank nor a cash point machine. Those that do will have the ATM ‘icon’ displayed within the ‘Services at’ section at the top of the page for each location along the walk. Despite the scarcity of ATM’s in some places it is always sensible to bring an international Credit Card and be familiar with your PIN number. It is also worth noting that many Post Offices will cash Travellers Cheques.
By far the best way to get to your starting point (and returning home from the finishing point) is by public transport and/or taxi. In this way you have not got to worry about car parking (and its associated costs) or endure the tedious journey back to the car after you’ve completed your challenge. Despite its criticisms, rail travel in the UK is popular, efficient and reliable. The only drawback is that there isn’t a railway station at the start/finish of every walk and so rail travel often involves an off-putting bus or taxi journey as well. However, this is not difficult as you might think. You will not be alone. You will not be the first to require this service. The service will exist. It’s just a question of figuring it out. Use our Chat Board to ask others how they have overcome this problem – or ask them if they want to share a taxi. Visit the timetable section of www.railtrack.co.uk for details of rail travel in the UK.
Most outdoor professionals (probably aware of the legal implications of doing other) advise against undertaking solo walks. This is because there are issues associated with injury (sprained ankle for instance) and navigation in poor weather conditions rather than any untoward safety issues.
Nevertheless, if you would like to undertake the walk on your own, you certainly won’t be the first to appreciate the incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience that awaits you. The answer is to take sensible precautions. For example, many solo walkers use our booking service, because it not only secures their accommodation but it also has the advantage that proprietors would probably contact us if you didn’t turn up. Another little trick is to secure accommodation at smaller rather than larger establishments: you’ll be missed more. (PS everyone has always turned up – just a little late sometimes). You may also consider taking a mobile phone with you. (see later faq).
Many people use the ‘Chat Board’ on this site to find walking companions. Last year, two people even found themselves living in Sydney only a mile apart. Others however, meet via our ‘Chat Board’ and plan their whole adventure via email.
By their very nature, many long distance walks within the UK pass through sparsely populated and remote areas. No service provider within the UK currently offers full spatial coverage and what tends to happen is that where there is ‘No Network’ with one particular provider another has perfect reception. If therefore, you have access to two different service providers you will have more chance of receiving reception everywhere.
The simple answer is yes. GPS are becoming more and more popular (even common) along long distance routes in the UK. Remember however, that you’ll need a GPS that can convert into British National Grid coordinates (OSGB) to be able to use with British Ordnance Survey maps (for which there is no substitute).
The typical OS grid reference familiar to walkers is a six digit number with a two letter prefix. (In reality the prefix is rarely used because if you don’t know where you are within 100km or so, then you’re really are in trouble!). The first two numbers of the reference locate the vertical grid line. Interpret the third number as a decimal point between to be identified between the vertical you’ve just located and the next line to the right. To locate your other co-ordinate perform the same process using the last three figures and the horizontal map axis.
It’s a little harder to calculate grid references if you have a strip map because, unlike their source maps, they do not have all the gridline numbers – but there are enough to figure out the missing ones with a little deduction.
Visit our bookshop on this site for a full and independent review of all the books and maps you’ll need for your walk.
Think feet. Think boots. Your boots should be comfortable and thoroughly worn in. A wind and waterproof jacket is also essential as is a fleece. Legging over-trousers are good idea, but don’t take/walk in jeans. If they get wet they probably won’t dry out until you get home. Remember to take a hat and sunscreen as well as plenty of plastic bags to keep essentials and spare clothing dry. (Hint: The ink on cheque books tends to wash off !). Don’t forget a water bottle, your camera and diary! You may also consider taking a trekking pole to help you along.
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Sunday, 23rd February, 2020