Planning a visit?


The best way to explore the Lake District is on foot so here are some things you need to know before leaving home…

What to wear?
One of the things that keep our Lakeland economy alive is the hoards of tourists that arrive completely unprepared for exploring the area. They immediately flock, like sheep, to one of the (very) many outdoor clothing and equipment stores in towns like Bowness, Ambleside and Keswick. Here, they equip themselves with enough hi-tec gubbins to conquer Everest or single headedly pogo the length of the Amazon. They spend a small fortune and don’t get much use out of any of it at all.

As an intelligent person you will realise that a bit of preparation and forethought can save £££’s.
Most of what is essential you probably already own but here are the basics…

Walking Boots. Waterproof and breathable is best. Don’t be talked into anything uncomfortable just because they look good! Try on loads of different ones until they feel right. Also get used to them with some short walks before you decide to tackle the Langdale Pikes. A good shop will have a little plastic “mountain” to walk over in your chosen boots before purchase. These days many boots look more like trainers than clumping great leather things covered in something called dubbing. Lake district paths are wet, uneven, lumpy, bumpy, and loose and can you can easily turn an ankle so we feel boots are usually better than walking shoes. You don’t need to spend a fortune, £60 buys something reasonable and you can find bargains in the sales, as long as they feel comfy. We quite like Salomon as they have good support in the right places. Your boots are probably your most important piece of kit so take extra care choosing them.

Socks. With more modern boots you can walk in normal socks quite happily. Walking socks can be a bit more comfortable but can be scarily expensive and sports socks are often just as good. On colder days thicker socks may be needed but feet usually warm up when you walk so don’t go overboard unless you are seriously trekking.

Layers. The key to Lakeland walking is layering. You can add or remove garments as you warm up, cool down or when weather changes (i.e. every half an hour!)

Base Layer. All the outdoor shops sell these. Anywhere else they are known as T-Shirts! Or vests! Just because it is shiny, has geometric patterns printed all over it and costs £30 doesn’t mean it will solve all your “wicking” issues. A cotton T-Shirt is just fine. Wear a scary heavy metal black one and it freaks out all the other walkers you come across on the secluded paths. We have, however, found out that you can get merino wool base layers and these are wonderful. Especially when working in a cold shop.

Mid-Layers. We think these are things like shirts and jumpers but the big brands call them technical systems. This may include fleeces of various thicknesses.

Outer Layer. A jacket to you and me. A fleece jacket is ideal for warmth but don’t go for anything too bulky, as you may want to carry it, stow it in a bag or tie it around your waist. Get one with zip up pockets for phones, money and keys etc.

Waterproof Jacket.
This is just as important as your boots. A few years ago 3 in 1 jackets were all the rage but a simple, light, waterproof outer layer is best. This can also be the most expensive item you buy to go walking in. The choice is mind-blowing, the technical details are astounding and some of the colours are just plain wrong. At the top end is Goretex and similar fabrics. Gortex lined waterproof boots are a very good idea. Gortex jackets feel a bit “crispy” but are excellent at keeping you dry and are very expensive. Other jackets use different fabrics with different ways of repelling water but can be just as good, especially if you are not going to push yourself and your kit to extremes. Why not look for something you can also go shopping in?
We like a lightweight one that folds up well without coming back out of the rucksack looking creased. Also if you can tie it round your waist without the arms stretching it is a bonus. The main thing is that it must be totally waterproof. If it says it is and isn’t you must take it back ASAP! Hoods can be a pain, some have a bit of structure to them to keep them above your eyes, and others have elastic cords to change the shape. Try before you buy. A cap under a hood helps a lot if you wear glasses. An umbrella is also a very under-rated way to keep dry in the countryside; a lot of walkers forget that.

Troosers. Jeans are just as good as walking trousers. So is most practical leg wear as long as you can easily move about in them. Jogging bottoms just look silly (anywhere, unless you are actually jogging!) Plus fours and long tartan socks are a bit Jeeves and Wooster but combined with a heavy metal t-shirt may be a good look.

Waterproof Troosers. Worth investing in. £20 will get you a reasonable pair but just like jackets there is a lot of choice including Gortex. Light and easy to pack is ideal.

Hat. If you like wearing one, why not. It can keep the sun and rain off. Comedy climbing hats just make you look like you have been abandoned in the countryside on a stag/hen night.

Rucksack. It is much nicer not to have to carry much when walking. If you do, a comfy rucksack is best. Get the smallest one you can fit all your stuff into including your jacket and/or waterproofs, a map, sarnies, Mintcake and a drink. A bit of padding helps. Rucksacks can be quite cheap but even the more expensive ones are often not very waterproof so take a couple of plastic bags too. Rucksacks come in litre sizes, a 10L, 15L or 20L is ideal for a day out.

Walking Poles. We have no idea what they are for, maybe getting across streams? Otherwise you are basically just carrying more stuff. And you look a bit pretentious, especially with two (remember the At-At in Star Wars?)

Map. Not always necessary if you already know where you are going but essential if you don’t. Make sure it is actually of the area you are in and have a look at it before you set off. Sat navs and smart phones are not a substitute, mountain rescue teams are fed up with them.

Compass. Know how to use one? Take one anyway. Whip it out when passing other walkers and look cool.