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5 Top Tips for Self-guided Walks

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Gill McMillan

Enjoy your long distance trail with these top tips

Our guide Gill McMillan loves self-guided walks and in this post shares her tips on the practicalities of multi-day self-guided walks. She’s undertaken long-distance walking on the Camino de Santiago across Spain, the West Highland Way in Scotland and coast to coast across England.

If you’re thinking of undertaking a long-distance hike I say – Go for it! The daily rhythm of walk, eat, sleep is becoming a rare treat in our hectic lives. And there’s no substitute for a feeling of satisfaction when you reach your goal.

Take care of your feet

Buy your walking boots well in advance, two or three months before your start date and wear them over a variety of terrain. Experiment with different thicknesses of socks until you find what suits you best. Ask for advice from a good outdoor retailer. If they’re reputable, they should allow you to take boots and rucksack home to try out. That way, you’ll have a better idea of comfort and whether the items you chose are right for you.

Self Guided Walks: West Highland Way

Get a good night’s sleep

Think about how you want to approach this experience, the distance you want to cover each day and where you want to be come nightfall. Scotland’s long distance routes get very busy so you’ll need to book ahead, especially in high season. On our self-guided trips we will make sure you are booked into comfortable accommodation so you can concentrate on the route. If you want the path to yourself then think about starting on a weekday or with long summer evenings you could set off a little bit later in the day and still have plenty of daylight ahead of you.

Take the weight off

Do you want to carry a full pack or would you prefer a luggage transfer? Even if you use a luggage transfer service don’t be tempted to pack too much or rely on be squeezing things in – remember you’ll be packing it again each morning. Get familiar with your rucksack before setting off on a multi-day hike. Fill it with your kit and get used to the weight. Adjusting your rucksack correctly can make a huge difference. All of our self-guided trails include luggage transfer and so you only need to carry your daypack while walking.

 

Layer up

Wear layers, always. The old adage of several thin layers being more versatile that one thick one is true. Look for lightweight, fast-drying fabrics. Some of us prefer merino wool as a base layer year round as it’s comfortable and can be worn for several days without washing.

 

Refuel regularly

Make sure you pack some snacks. Cereal bars, nuts and dried fruit are all light and tasty to snack on the way. We provide every guest booked on our self-guided trips with lots on information on the nearest amenities en route so you’ll always know where the next food stop is. I recommend taking enough cash to see you through the walk rather than relying on passing an ATM. That way you’ll never run out of money or go hungry.

About the author

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Gill McMillan

As a child I skied in Glenshee and loved being outside. At 19 I started hill-walking and have happily worn out many pairs of boots since. I especially enjoy hill-walking, long distance trails (the Camino de Santiago across Spain and the West Highland Way several times) and wild camping. Late evening sunsets from high up on a mountain have to be among life’s greatest pleasures. Thankfully, in Scotland we’re spoilt for choice.

Read more articles by Gill


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