Equipment

In the over twenty years of walking my equipment has changed significantly.

Planning

Where they exist for established paths then route planning books were initially used. e.g. Offa’s Dyke Path South, Chepstow to Knighton. A National Trail Guide. Ernie and Kathy Kay and Mark Richards, Aurm Press 1994 and Offa’s Dyke Path North, Knighton to Prestatyn. A National Trail Guide. Ernie and Kathy Kay and Mark Richards, Aurm Press 1995.

Elsewhere Ordnance Pathfinder and/or Explorer two-and-half inch maps were used with cotton and ruler to find distances (I have map measurers but they never seem to work for me).

Currently use Ordnance Survey Explorer maps on a Memory Map program on my PC. Routes can be interactively defined and route mileages, route maps and elevation profiles printed off.

Navigation

Navigation initially purely by map reading (plus useful signs on established long distance paths). Eventually used a simple Garmin GPS with grid point display in conjunction with physical map. Since start of South West Coast Path have been using iPhone with the Memory Map App. This gives visual display of Explorer map with current position and also allows Tracking of route taken. The end of navigation really but saves the frustration of getting lost. Keeping the iPhone dry is a major pre-occupation and I have various covers for it – all of which inhibit use to varying extents. Keeping a charge on a long day is difficult as Memory Map is very greedy so originally I carried an EasyAcc charger (charged up on the mains it allegedly will recharge the iPhone 4 times, but it is slow). In 2017 this was updated with a Bsamz solar power charger. This can be charged up from the mains but also charges through a solar cell while walking and it charges up the iPhone a great deal quicker.

Photography

Early photographs taken with an old 35mm film camera. Eventually found it easier to use disposable film cameras. Went digital and currently use a simple Sony Cyber-shot and occasional use of the iPhone.

Walking Gear

I have reached the conclusion that all that really matters are boots and socks. I currently wear Meindl boots and Bridgedale Endurance Summit heavyweight socks (£19 and worth every penny).

Rohan trousers as they are lightweight, dry very quickly and have many zipped pockets. I also have heavier duty Rohan and Fjallraven trousers which are probably more suitable for winter.

Berghaus jacket although I seem to get very wet in it mainly from sweating. For 2019 this has been replaced by a Berghaus Hydrocell jacket as the earlier one had become completely lacking in waterproof capability despite being re-proofed many times with the spray and twice in the washing machine with special cleanser and proofer.

A woollen hat completes the outer clothing, although for extreme cold I have recently added a trapper hat.

I intensely dislike carrying a rucksack and so try to carry everything in coat and trouser pockets. I have a walking stick and find it very useful on steep climbs/descents but otherwise a real encumbrance.

Audio

I use a simple digital recorder for recording details of each walk. Earlier tape versions were much harder work in transcribing and an earlier digital device got waterlogged.

I am constantly told by my kids taht I could use the iPhone not only as a GPS but as an audio recorder and camera but to me this would make me too reliant on the single device.