Hiking Boots & ShoesHill walking, hiking or trekking call it what you will there is no doubt that it has grown in popularity as people’s awareness of their environment increases and a desire for increased exercise has made them seek out new challenges and pull on their walking boots. Forget tweed, Aran sweaters and your trusty Ordinance Survey map and think Goretex Vibram and GPS and you enter the realms of the modern day hill walker and even every day stroller. Although to be fair tweed and Aran wool and a stout pair of hobnail boots were the high tec gear of their age with water resistant qualities all of their own. Take for example Legendary mountaineer George Mallory who actually tackled Everest back in 1924 wearing a 3 piece tweed suit, brave man. Granted he died on the slopes of Everest but importantly not as a result of his clothing.
However, I digress walking and outdoor activities have, then, become ultra cool and the gear has followed suit and has even made its mark on the high street where you are as likely to see a top of the range jacket as you are on Scafell pike As a newbie walker you are kitted out in the latest breathable gear and impact resistant footwear and you feel ready to tackle the outdoors in comfort and in some cases with wee bit more confidence than your skills can back up hence the corresponding increase in call outs for the Mountain rescue teams who volunteer to go out in all weathers to rescue stranded climbers and walkers, more details here, http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk and remember they get no funding from central government either. But your kit need not cost you the earth as perfectly adequate boots for walking can be bought from a range of shoe shops like Wynsors World of Shoes who have shoes and boots at much more reasonable prices. You basically need to have boots with a good gripping sole that has a deep tread to dig in to the mud and gives some support for your ankles. Add a size at least to your normal shoe size to accommodate an extra pair of thick socks and you should be ready to go.
So the moment arrives, first trip out. Throw all that kit in the boot and drive out to a suitable location like the Lakes and find a nice car park to put on your boots as walking boots do not afford the level of subtlety required to drive a modern motor vehicle and stomping on the pedals is unlikely to produce a smooth and safe journey. Your boots will also get muddy so a change of shoes is essential. Next pick up a few bars of Kendal Mint Cake (or a solid block of sugar with mint flavouring to make it palatable to creatures other than wasps and toddlers) to capture the full ‘going on a walk’ experience and pull on your fleece, 3 layer waterproof wind proof breathable jacket and woolly hat and off you go in to the great outdoors only to straight away remove said hat and jacket as you are now boiling hot as its autumn in the lakes and not winter in the Appalachians.
Adopt a bouncing, hearty gait as you tackle the wilds of the well signposted path and attempt to get your brand new boots dirty as quickly as you can in a self conscious attempt to blend in. Within a few minutes, out of breath you abandon your new found walking style in favour of something more normal and less energetic and instead ponder the issue of walking pole etiquette should you thrust the pole forward in a purposeful manner a la some dandy with a walking cane; or stow it in the handy external webbing thing on your new rucksack and save it for the really steep bits? Once you stop concerning yourself with all of this you are then free to enjoy the experience see sights that remind you that while the weather isn’t that great we do live in a country that is rather beautiful. Autumn in the lakes is quite breathtaking with its mix of colours as the leaves turn and soft greens are replaced with the most amazing neon oranges and reds.
Above all, wherever you go and whatever you do, it is important to enjoy the experience. It is a unique combination of getting slightly sweaty with a bit of physical exercise and in a lot of cases stunning scenery and bags of fresh air that generates a euphoric feeling like no other. And makes you forget your otherwise less free existence. So pull on your walking boots and get walking.