I read as much as I can about the philosophy and experiences of walking. This is my reading list, in order of inspiration impact.
- The Old Ways, The Wild Places – Robert Macfarlane – resonates strongly with my experiences, I read sections again and again. Robert presented an excellent documentary on BBC Scotland about…
- Nan Shepherd – The Living Mountain – just astonishing
- The Art of Travel – Alain de Botton – it’s not where you go, its why you go.
- Clear Water Rising – Nicholas Crane – my wife would perhaps draw the line at a year away.
- Walking Home – Simon Armitage – the ending left me perplexed if ever I meet Simon on the path, I need a proper explanation.
- Map of a Nation – Rachel Hewitt – awestruck by the determination of the early Ordnance Survey pioneers. Trig point collectors bible.
- Richard Long – Art made by Walking in Landscapes. Not a book, but conceptual art which I can relate too, likewise
- Eric Newby – Round Ireland in Low Gear
- Elspeth Beard – Lone Rider, deeply personal and raw account of travelling around the world on a motorcycle in the 1980s
- Nicholas Crane – Making of the British Landscape; Clear Waters Rising
- David Frayne – The Refusal of Work. If you are having a problem finding time to do this stuff
Plus some backpacking reference books, which only tempt me to spend money, but are very valuable sources of information nonetheless. Reading these led me into the world of the lightweight backpacker, mostly with a US perspective, suited to walking for extended periods in the wilderness. It seems timely that I now have an opportunity to lighten the load for my age, which I hope will extend my walking years.
- Ultralight Backpacking Trips – Mike Clelland – like the cartoons
- Lightweight Backpacking – Ray Jardine – serious stuff
- The Backpacker’s Handbook – Chris Townsend – Pretty much the reference to all aspects of backpacking
All will help you achieve backpacking nirvana and a <10kg total pack weight. Of course, if you are not camping or backpacking and are using B&B’s and YHA Hostels, you pack should already be lightweight – right?
Sometimes I think it might be more cost effective to lose some weight. For that, I need to go walking, Catch 22 eh?
Websites are numerous – Let Me Google That For You
- www.ramblefest.com – very useful for planning the walk, more so than the guides at times
- www.nationaltrail.co.uk – useful up to date information and news, official site
- www.ldwa.org.uk – perhaps I’ll skip the 100-mile day challenges, but a good reference site and organisation. They give out Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum certificates on completion for 5,10,15,19 paths too!
- www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk – unsurpassed source of information on the SWCP, great accommodation guide and dedicated team
- www.walkhighlands.co.uk – for Scotland and my next challenge
- www.thetrainline.com – hours of fun trying to find the cheapest tickets
- www.ramblingman.org.uk – similar to this blog, good on yer mate
- www.thehikinglife.com – very experienced thru-hiker
- www.independenthostels.co.uk – add a diverse list of independent hostels to the usual www.yha.org.uk hostels. The latter makes booking online easy now.
I haven’t really found a definitive accommodation website for walkers. You have to do your research online using some of the above sites, which takes time. I have mixed feelings about TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.com. On one hand, I hope it contributes to the improvement of standards, on the other, I prefer the sweet surprise of an undiscovered gem.