How not to hike a National Trail
My first ever attempt at a National Trail was back in July 2008. I hiked for three days along the Cleveland Way and reached the coast before quiting because of a foot injury. I learned plenty of lessons from this trip although i came close to quitting hiking altogether after my failure to complete the trail.
I wont bore you with too much detail but here are a few areas i got totally wrong, hopefully other people thinking of doing a National Trail can learn from my mistakes.
I carried far too much weight and although i had no problem carrying the pack, the weight eventually caused a foot injury. The 70 litre pack I usedwas full to brim.
- FOOD This accounted for most of my weight. I had opted to take army ration packs which are extremely heavy compared to a say a wayfarers meal, but carrying 5 days worth of food was stupid, I could have easily bought food on the trail each day. Planning your restocking points is vital when thru hiking.
- WATER Each day I would fill up my 3 litre platypus with water which seems like madness now, a bit of planning each day on refill points would have saved me lugging an extra 2 litres of water.
- CLOTHING Carrying 3 changes of clothes is a luxury hikers cannot afford.
- EQUIPMENT – My 2-3 man tent was twice the weight of a solo tent. Down sleeping bags are half the weight of the cheap bulky synthetic bag I carried.
Dont under-estimate the effects a thru hike can have on your body if you are not prepared.
- TRAINING – I thought I could just turn up on the day and get straight into hiking, 20+ miles per day. If you are going to do high mileage you need to train and the only way to do this is by putting miles on your feet.
- MILEAGE – Unless you have trained to walk long distances I would not recommend hiking over 15 miles in a day. Think about adding a rest day to play with and keep it in the bank just in case you need it.
- RESTOCKING Plan where you need to stop to restock supplies you could also think about sending a parcel ahead to pick up on route.
- NO YOUR LIMITS And stick to them, you’re not going to get any extra recognition for hiking a trail in 5 days when your body can handle it in 7. If you want to push yourself do some extra training preparation.
- WHICH TRAIL Dont go for a big hike for your first National Trail try something shorter like the Wolds Way or the Hadrian’s Wall.
I hope you found these tips handy, they will be second nature to experienced hikers but I hope they find their way to a beginner who may find them useful.