So where did I sleep at night?
In line with my “fifth rule”, I had elected to do this hike “properly” and to camp as much as I could along the way.
What sort of accommodation did I use?
I didn’t want to be one of those “LEJOG-ers” I’d read about, who set off on their journeys with the intention to camp but who ditched their tents in exhaustion and frustration after a couple of weeks.
In the end, I used rather more hotels and B&B’s than I would have liked, and I “wild camped” less than I expected. But I did camp the vast majority of the way (75% of nights), right from the start to the end, and I carried my full gear every inch of the way.
You can read all the details about how I found accommodation as I was walking, by clicking the Tech – accommodation page
My 79 nights eventually worked out like this:
- Camping in campsites 54 nights
- Camping wild 4 nights
- B&B 11 nights
- Hotels 6 nights
- Family and friends 3 nights
- Youth Hostel 1 night
I used a “Go-Lite Eden 1” tent for my hike. The most interesting feature of the tent was the way I funded it. Normally I tend to get quite expensive sandwiches for lunch at work and was easily spending £10 on lunch and posh coffee. So I gave myself £10 a day to spend on lunch, and I saved the rest towards the tent. As luck would have it, a local Tesco started selling “meal-deals” for just £3, so if i was careful i could save £7 a day towards the tent. I saved enough to buy the tent in a couple of months – which came as a great relief as an unrelenting diet of meal deals was playing havoc with my digestive system..
Looking back, I’m not certain that I would use the same tent again. Although the tent was light, at 3.3 lb / 1.5 kg, the main disadvantage was that the inner vestibule area didn’t have a groundsheet, which meant that my rucksack and any other gear I left out there got very damp, and became a magnet for slugs and other wildlife that burrowed its way out of the ground during the night. I met a backpacker at Kinlochleven who proudly showed me his 2 man tent, which weighted about as much as my 1 man tent did, and which had a large interior area which was fully groundsheet-ed. I’d probably follow suit and get something similar if I were doing it again, and could get a light enough model.
I managed to make the in-tent sleeping arrangements quite comfortable.
Sleeping bag and mattress
I carried a full-length Karrimat closed cell foam mattress, which was lightweight and warm but not very comfortable because it was so thin. So I used a half-length Therma-Rest self-inflating mattress as well. Also lightweight and compact, and gave me some added padding and a bit of luxury. This system performed well, and lifted my sleeping bed off the groundsheet in the event that water leaked in. The only problem happened in the Lake District when the Therma-Rest started leaking and wouldn’t stay inflated overnight. But fortunately, being the Lake District, there were plenty of outdoor sports shops and I was able to get a replacement (at eye-watering cost, though).
The final item in my sleeping kit was my sleeping bag. I took a Snugpak Chrysalis 4 four seasons sleeping bag. This was also generously donated to me by Fox’s of Amersham. I used a lightweight silk liner to keep it clean – every few weeks, I could wash the liner, whereas the bag itself didn’t need cleaning until I got back home.
I’d agonised for a long time about whether to go for the significantly lighter three season model – on the basis that I’d be setting off in late March, by which time I expected that the worst of the winter should have passed. In the end, I mentally tossed a coin and went for the 4 season model and I am extremely glad that I did. I was never too warm, and even then on some cold nights I had to wear all my clothes as well. Although the night-time lows weren’t often below freezing, I think it’s the UK climate’s unique ability to combine cool temperatures with penetrating damp that made it feel so uncomfortable.