The headline is a little provocative, but I have an admission to make. On two occasions I’ve come close to death whilst hiking or trekking, the second time was within a hair’s breadth. The reasons why are numerous, but the most obvious failure was not learning from my first mistake. The second was not having an emergency hiking shelter to hand!
Some of what I’m going to discuss today is already covered in the hiking and hillwalking essentials post. Rather than rehash the points already covered, we’ll be exploring some of the considerations when choosing an emergency shelters for hikers and anyone else who ventures out into the wilds.
This route from Pulpit Hill to Coombe Hill is a circular walk covering about 9.5 miles in length and uses part of the Ridgeway. The trail is a mix of mud track and, in a few places, gravel. As hiking routes go, it’s mostly easy going. Be warned: there are a couple of very steep hills (I’ve noted each one in the details below).
Here are a few of the highlights:
9.5 miles of hiking and hillwalking through the Buckinghamshire countryside.
Stunning views, in particular when you stand on the top of Coombe and look out of the surrounding area.
A whistlestop tour of various aspects of Buckinghamshire history. This includes Chequers, Coombe Hill war memorial and the neolithic settlements.
An plenty of wildlife. Watch out for whitethroat birds, and butterflies (the speckled wood and the peacock being some of the most commonly spotted).
Beechwood woodland, much of which dates back to the 1600’s.
My original intention was to walk about 6 miles over the Chiltern hills. Recently I had spinal surgery and I’m still in recovery phase. Walking is easy, vigorous exercise is still a no-go area. Needless to say, my hill walking fitness plan hasn’t been used much over the past month, or so.
Hiking training in the gym: it’s an unusual concept considering the best place to train for a hike, or trek, is outdoors. But wait! There’s more to this than meets the eye.
I took some advice from Irene, my physiotherapist, and have now adopted a weight training program that not only mimics the way my body moves when hiking, but also increases strength and endurance in key muscles.
With a little planning and shifting of some moderately sized weights you can reap huge benefits from spending only a few hours in the gym.
Training in the environments where you plan to hike and trek is still key developing your fitness. For example, if you going to do a lot of hillwalking then you need to get out and walk up-and-down big hills. I’ve written a guide full of hillwalking tips for beginners, take a look and let me know what you think of it.
Likewise, hikers have always been encouraged to get out and walk increasingly further and further to build up strength and improve their cardiovascular fitness.
But I also know that gym work plays a vital role in shaping the kind body we need for outdoor activities.
Anyone that’s read any of my posts today will already know what’s about to come…
Choosing a lightweight camping stove should be an easy task, but is it? Many factors will affect your decision and some of the considerations you’ll need to think about include:
The environment in you’ll be hiking and camping in
Size and weight of fuel cannisters/duration of you trip
Ease of maintenance and repair.
This list is small and is based on my own experience of camping and hiking the U.K, U.S, the jungles of South East Asia and Arctic Ocean. Your adventure might require some additional thought so feel free to use the above bullets as a starting point.
We’ll cover off these points later in the post. First let’s look at the various options available.
The UK is criss-crossed by a network of trails, tracks and public footpaths that take you on some pretty magical journeys. If you let them. I’ve had the pleasure to hike and trek all over the world, but nothing gives me more pleasure than a walking long distance through the wilds of the UK. I’m equally at home taking walks near Thame and in Buckinghamshire. But today we’re going to explore some of the best long-distance walks (UK only – I’ll be adding more walks to cater for overseas visitors to my website).
First off, let’s be clear about what constitutes a long-distance hike, or walk: some of my outdoorsy-type friends told me that long distance is the kind of trek or hike that can take days. That’s probably a bit extreme for most so we came to an agreement – any route over 20 miles is classified as long.
Some of the routes below I’ve walked. Others are recommendations from friends. If you have any you think might be valuable additions to this post, please feel free to email me (details over on the contact page).
I’ve been using this hillwalking fitness tips for beginners guide for a number of years now. The core components have been borrowed from my military training. Some of the more intense training recommendations are based on a very hard course during which I spent many months marching over huge hills. But don’t worry – this training plan has been built with the beginner hillwalker in mind.
This schedule works equally well for anyone looking for a hiking training plan. If you’re not going to be travelling over hills simply follow the plan and switch your venue e.g. if your route will be along woodland tracks and trails, then walk them instead.
The Garmin InReach vs Iridium GO debate has been circling for quite some time now. As satellite communications devices go, they both similar and vastly different. I’ve used both the Iridium GO! and the Garmin InReach Explorer+ on a number of expeditions and hikes ranging from the North Pole to the wilds of the UK’s national parks. Each device has its strengths and weaknesses and its these we’re going to explore today.
Is there really a best GPS for hiking? I’ve been using handheld GPS units for many years now and would argue that it’s nigh on impossible to choose one device that can be classed as the best. In fact, we should think of a GPS purely as a backup device. With that though in mind I’m going to look at some of the GPS options I’ve used on my travels.
My Choices of Hiking GPS
Microsoft Band 2 (with app) – now discontinued by Microsoft, but available to buy at Amazon, eBay, etc.
etrex 10 – simple and never failed
InReach – awesome, but a little pricey
Take a look around the web and you’ll find countless articles asking about the best GPS for hiking, or hill walking, or some of their physical activity. As some of you know I’m not a massive fan of having GPS purely for the sake of having GPS. I talk about the reasons why in my hillwalking essentials guide. Rather than regurgitate my thoughts you can read that post. For the sake of brevity, I firmly believe GPS should be a backup for outdoor activities. Nothing beats the ability to be able to understand and use a map and compass.
Long Crendon is a large village located about 1 ½ miles from Thame. The village is in Buckinghamshire, just over the county border with Oxfordshire. Unlike Thame, which is a small town, Long Crendon isn’t a hive of activity (and that suits many of the residents and visitors). I love the countryside around these towns and villages, which is why I’ve decided to document this Long Crendon to Chearsley walking route.
The route to Chearsley – an even smaller village about 2 miles away from Long Crendon – is pretty easy going. There are a couple of short but steep climbs, and you’ll be walking across fields. If you’re planning this walking route during winter, I highly recommend you wear supportive walking boots or shoes.
Parking is at a premium as this walk starts from St. Mary the Virgin church in the heart of the old village. Most days you’ll find plenty of parking, but best check ahead for any festivals of events as the village fills up fast.