Strangely enough, I didn’t find the walking too difficult. I actually found the effort involved in writing a blog, finding accommodation, getting food, and getting the tent up and down much more hassle-some. Actually setting off and walking was quite a relief as I could escape into a bit of a reverie and just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. With electronic maps and GPS, navigation wasn’t an issue, so sometimes I had the strange sensation of being a passenger, just going along for the ride.
Apart from blisters and other minor-ish ailments (see “health” page), the main source of physical pain as I walked was my rucksack. Because it was so heavy, I knew from my West Highland Way experience that my shoulders would be rubber bare if i didn’t protect them. So I cut the end off my Karrimat and made them into shoulder pads, which I wore under my T-shirt. They were very effective but when soaked in sweat, started to get smelly. So I sealed them in freezer bags to keep them clean, and that seemed to work. So I didn’t get shoulder-blisters, but I did find it very hard to get the pack weight balanced just right. It seemed to press on my left shoulder unduly hard, no matter how I adjusted it. I even went into a sports shop in Ambleside to see if they could help – a really knowledgeable assistant spent ages readjusting all the straps – but it didn’t seem to make any difference. In the end I just put up with the pain pretty much for the whole duration of my walk. Occiasionally fortified with ibuprofen..
By the way, in terms of the practicalities of walking, I was always being asked if I was using trekking poles.
A lot of the other walkers I met were using them, but I didn’t. I had used them once, when I did the Cotswolds Way, but I really found they just got in the way and I always felt I was in danger of tripping over them. Plus, they were extra weight. There were a couple of times when I wished I’d had them – the first was on the Cornish coast path, where I think they might have eased some of the pressure on my knees as I went up and down the cliffs. And the second was when I was doing river crossings in Wales and Scotland, where an “extra pair of legs” would have been helpful. But mostly I didn’t regret not having them.
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