Ready, steady… walk!
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
So you may be asking how does one prepare for a 600 mile hike around Wales? In short, good organisation. Fortunately my meticulous project management skills earned from my property renovation experience has come in handy.
First of all my particular choice of walk comes from a pride for my country and it’s people. The Welsh coast is awash with castles, beaches and picturesque villages of which the majority I’m unfamiliar with. Since turning 18 my life has been dominated by the busy life of London or travels to far off distant places, but a yearning to reconnect to a country that I love has been growing for a while and surely this 600 miles journey should fulfil that, no?
“Hiraeth” is a Welsh word that perfectly sums up this feeling which funnily enough has no direct translation in English.
I had first considered to walk the entire coastline but I thought a round 600 miles would be more than sufficient, and the first and last week of the entire coastline walk passes many industrial towns and seaside resorts that wouldn’t really offer much to myself nor to anyone following this blog. I unfortunately won’t be walking round Anglesey but I know there will be plenty of opportunity to do so in the future!
In preparation I have mapped out my walk, giving myself daily goals of where I aim to reach and camp. Whether I will be able to keep to these only time will tell, but it helps to have some structure on a journey with an open stretch of 600 miles laid before me. It’s allowed me to organise rest weekends with families and friends, to share at least part of this walk with my closest friends and family.
So where am I going to sleep? Wild camping would be the only viable solution for me to afford a 5 week hike around Wales, fortunately many campsites have responded to my plea for help and have offered me a free pitch which I’m incredibly grateful for. I’ve also sent out cheeky emails to hiking brands asking for support and so far received discounts for places such as Cotswolds, but I have to say a big thanks to Bridgedale. I was going through my list of things to buy and the last of my items to buy was socks, with 600 miles to walk I was taking foot care seriously, I’d bought some decent hiking boots so of course I want some decent socks to go with them. Then I realised how expensive hiking socks were! I would have had to spend almost £80 on bloody socks. I thought I’d take my chances and email Bridgedale explaining what I was doing, I had a quick reply saying they might be able to help me out and only a day later I received an express parcel with all the socks that I needed! So thanks Bridgedale!
I made the best decision and delayed my start date by a week so I could get a practise run in the South Downs to test all the new equipment. I realised several things, the main one was realising how heavy my bag was and how it slowed me down therefore lie-ins would never be an option! The weekend walk also helped me to break in my boots and test out the blister prevention research I had done, I found out I’m susceptible to hotspots on my little toes, these hotspots are precursors to blisters and recognising them and covering the areas in megliotape prevents them from developing.
It was a weekend to test everything out and also to see how Tegwen would fare. She was tired by the end of the day but she seemed pretty content being outdoors all day. She was wary of cows and horses, took an instant wanting to chase cheep and was petrified of pigs but after the 2 days and being the clever dog she is, she ignores them all now with an air of nonchalance.
Before even starting this walk I’ve raised over £1000 of my £5000 target so I’d like to say a big thank you to those who have already donated. It really does help to know that people are supporting me as well as counting on me to do this, with such a mammoth challenge I need all the motivation I can get!
My friends, family and my partner Lewis are also a huge factor to this whole trip, their support and encouragement of this crazy journey has propelled me to believing I can do it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To leave one’s friends, daily life customs and their home knowing that they are about to endure a challenging 5 weeks of walking the Welsh coast can be hard. I have started learning a piece on my piano for my upcoming sister’s wedding and I will miss being able to tinker at it everyday. But I know I’ll be back, as with every travel trip I’ve done, you go away and everything is still the same when you return, it’s always easy to fit back into your routine.
So here is to Tom and Tegwen - A Tour of Wales. I may feel prepared but am I really prepared for the rain, the long hours, the aching pains, who knows but I will try my very best.