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Rucksack Readers => General issues => Topic started by: alan on January 08, 2008, 10:12:10 pm

Title: Which Way ?
Post by: alan on January 08, 2008, 10:12:10 pm
Newbie hillwalker looking for advice !
Hi, my friend and I are keen to do one of the 'ways' this May with a pal to celebrate our 40th birthday. We are not experienced walkers but are reasonably fit.
We would like something that takes anywhere between 4-7 days, gives some great high + low level scenery, that is a challenge but isn't hugely streneous - its not a fitness test ! Would be looking to BB each night - nice wee cosy pub and dinner.
Have looked at GGW and WHW amongst others, would probably prefer Scotland, lakes or Ireland.
I would love to hear what you experienced folks would suggest as being the best for us + any tips or links to check out.
Thanks, alan

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: sue k on January 19, 2008, 01:31:48 pm
Hi Alan
My first long distance walk was Great Glen Way. It was fantastic and I would recommend it as a first. It is not too demanding - the first half quite easy and the tougher bit later. The scenery is amazing both low and high level. There are quite a few options for accommodation along the way.
I never really thought that I was fit enough to do a real long distance walk and by the time I reached the end of the way, I was full of pride in my achievement!
Since that first time I am 'hooked', and with my daughter have walked WHW, Speyside Way and Kintyre Way- one each year. This year's route has not been decided but am thinking of Rob Roy Way, although without waymarkers it may not be quite so easy to navigate.
Good luck to you - am sure you will enjoy whichever route you decide upon.
sue k    :)

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: Jacquetta on January 30, 2008, 06:43:35 pm
Welcome, Alan
I'd agree with Sue that the Great Glen Way ( is more suitable than West Highland Way if you have only 4-7 days, and walking from Fort William to Inverness makes sense to help you into your stride: be aware that the last day (Drumnadrochit to Inverness) is a long 18 miles.

Consider also the Speyside Way (, which is also mostly easy walking and fits 5 days (preferably walk it Buckie to Aviemore, with the last and longest day 17 miles).  If you are into malt whisky and/or ospreys and/or steam trains, its side-trips perhaps have the edge over the Great Glen.  Contrariwise, if you are keen on Loch Ness, canal locks and Castle Urquhart, that might tilt the balance the other way.

If you really need a walk that can be done in 4-5 days, I'd suggest the Cateran Trail (  To fit it into 4 days, just do the circuit, omitting Blairgowrie, but you'll probably enjoy your first long walk more if you can take 5 or 6 days.  All three of these walks are clearly waymarked and have plenty of B&Bs in convenient places.  I'm sure that completing any of them may lead to other, longer walks.  Please let us know what you choose and what you think of it idc.

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: jmcpaul on February 09, 2008, 06:48:42 pm

I am reasonably fit and have walked the West Highland Way a couple of times with my brother-in-law who is also pretty fit.  Both times we set out to do it in 5 days but extended it to 6 days due to badly blistered feet, yet we met many many unfit looking people who walked the way in 5 and 6 days who didn't suffer any problems with their feet.  Basically, the WHW doesn't take any prisoners whether you are fit or not. I don't want to put you off doing it, just the opposite: it's a great walk with absolutely fantastic views and I will probably do it again in the not to distant future.  But don't take it too lightly especially if you are like me an think you can try and walk it at 3-4 miles an hour, as you will end up badly blistered.

If you do decide on the WHW in May, you should be thinking about booking your accomodation now as it does get busy, some of the bunk houses are good value especially the ones at Bridge of Orchy and Kinlochleven, espect to pay about £13 per night for those, the wigwams at Inverarnan are good for a laugh and are also cheap.  For some of the BB's you can pay up to £35 and they aren't worth it, bordering on inhospitable when you turn up with your muddy boots.

cheers John

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: alan on February 17, 2008, 03:43:33 pm
Hi all,
Thanks for the great feedback, very much appreciated.  I'm afraid the lure of of the WHW has proved too much and we are going to attempt it in 7 days in mid May. I agree the GGW would have been a more gentle introduction, but the opportunity may only come along once. I did speak to a few other walkers, they all advised the WHW and said it would be OK for my fitness level.
Accomodation is booked at each step, you are right about booking early - got the last room at the Kingshouse and that was booking 3 weeks ago!  Being a bit lazy and getting the big bags shipped between stops also.  Really looking forward to the trip now that its all booked.

I would love to hear anyone's experience on best places to stop + visit.  Are there are any good web links or reading material?

On another note, I am trying to find some suitable footwear and have had varying advice from "don't buy a sturdy boot for WHW in May, you'll find them hot + heavy. Good hiking shoes are a better option" to "you really need a sturdy boot or else"! Most boots I have tried do feel a bit clumpy (ie Brasher Hillmaster/hillwalker), I am thinking about a lighter wearing shoe / boot.  Any recommendations or advice ?

Thanks again, Alan

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: jmcpaul on February 20, 2008, 06:55:13 pm
Hi Alan,

Can't give you information on the type of boot to wear as I have blistered on both occasions, but I would recommend you use a boot and not a shoe.  You will need the ankle support as a lot of the trail has stones/rocks sticking out of the path and it is very easy to twist your ankle. If it is dry weather, you could even be tempted into wearing training shoes but I think you would soon come a cropper.

Cheers John

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: JennieL on February 23, 2008, 12:10:01 pm
Are there are any good web links or reading material?

Hi Alan
This may be too obvious to need saying, but the Rucksack Reader on this route is not only a great companion, it's also just come out in its 3rd edition, see (  Personally I like the Footprint map as a backup, it fits in any pocket, and it's waterproof as well.

In addition to the official website (linked from the page above I think) try Albawest: (

About footwear, I'd take both walking boots and trainers and be guided by the recent weather.  Hope that helps, enjoy your trip!

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: Loon Dod on February 25, 2008, 12:07:24 pm
Hi Alan
Only time I lace up my walking boots now-a-days is to wear them while clearing snow or messing about in the garden etc just because they cost so much that I feel I have to wear them now and again!

Get a good pair of approach shoes or off-road trail shoes – much easier on the feet and they allow the foot to land and roll in a natural way, unlike a boot.

Invest in Compeed (blister plaster) and apply it to likely hot spots before you start your walk.  They will last at least 3 days each if applied correctly.  This is prevention rather than cure.

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: katymonkey on March 18, 2008, 06:46:16 pm

I wear my walking boots on every long distance walk (WHW, GGW, Cateran Trail, Rob Roy & numerous hills).  I've only had problems on one day's walking which was mainly tarmac/cycle route on the Rob Roy Way. I would suggest you break your boots in well before you undertake the walk & ensure you have blister plasters & "Skin-so-soft" (anti-midgies).

We also take a triangular bandage with us everywhere we go as it was the one piece of medical equipment we didn't have but needed after a bit of a mishap on the Devil's staircase on WHW. Enjoy yourself!

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: alan on March 30, 2008, 08:59:56 pm
Thanks for the replies, plumped for Berghaus approach shoes for the good conditions (hopefully most days) and a pair of Scarpa ZG65 boots for anything else !
Also now have 'blister kit' as suggested by almost everyone !

Did my first 'break in' walk today in my brand new boots.

Was really surprised to find the sole of my foot sliding badly around in the middle and towards the rear of the boot when walking even slightly downhill as well as having similar sliding laterally on uneven ground.

This was primarily my right (slightly smaller) foot. I experienced some but minimal movement on my larger left.

I had no sliding movement at all on the front of sole the foot and toes were never hard against the toe. Felt really good at the front.

I also had no upward slippage or rubbing at the heel, felt reasonably well gripped.

Uphill - no probs at all. felt great.

Wearing Brasher 3 season sock + v.thin liner sock.

Tried the boots on for a good 30 minutes in the store, up and down the ramps etc. No issues at that stage, although the boot felt a little roomy initally (my feet were freezing !) but when my feet heated up the boot felt perfect. Next 1/2 size down totally killed my toes going downhill.

My first thought is that the mid+heel area (or even the whole boot) is to big and I need to modify the boot(s) somehow either with insoles or similar.

Any advice or suggestions would be most welcome.

cheers, alan

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: Jacquetta on March 31, 2008, 09:15:00 pm
Hey Alan

What you have discovered is that (like many of us) your feet are not identical in size!

The answer is a "volume reducer": buy the boots to fit your larger foot and mollycoddle the smaller (right) one with a special footbed plus reassurance.  You probably haven't laced either boot hard enough yet (especially important once facing downhill).

Don't even think about the half size down, there's nothing you or any trained boot-fitter can do there.

Good luck and do persevere, it isn't as easy as most people think!
Bye now

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: alan on April 01, 2008, 07:06:17 pm
Hi Jacquetta,

Bought a Brasher 3mm volume adjuster today, based on your advice.

Sorry for being a bit dim, but how do you actually remove the footbed, fit the volume adjuster and refit the footbed ?

Do you just pull out the footbed place the volume adjuster and put em back in or do you need to use heat / glue etc or some other technique ?

thanks again, alan

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: Jacquetta on April 02, 2008, 08:59:42 pm
Hello Alan

No, not dim, just usefully asking questions that plenty of folk don't know the answer to. :-[

Yes, normally you just need finger pressure (or a very blunt, plastic instrument if your fingers are unusually weak) and deffo no glue or heat.  Having said that, please don't try to sue me if you wreck them, just be gentle and persevere and, if all else fails, get help.  You must have a local walking club or friend or somebody?

Personally, the first thing I do with any walking boots is remove the pathetic insole that they come with.  If like me you don't like throwing things out, simply use them in a pair of bedroom slippers, it's all they're fit for :)

But please let us know the outcome, we're all now on tenterhooks!

Title: Re: Which Way ?
Post by: alan on April 04, 2008, 06:51:07 pm
Hi Jacquetta, ;D

Fitted a Brasher volume adjuster with original insole ontop - turned to be very easy indeed as they are not stuck down and v easy to remove and refit.  Was initially a little skeptical looking at the rather thin and fairly cheap insert but this has worked like a dream!
From my foot sliding all over the place to no excess movement at all and a very comfortable fit up and downhill, so very pleased indeed. Even OK coming down a in sock thickness which augurs well for hot feet during WHW walk in May - assuming decent weather.
Will remove the left foot volume adjuster as its now a little too snug, but hey it was OK to begin with - just thought I'd try both boots to start with.
Also played around with lace tightness as advised. This has also helped. May also replace original insole, but I'll see how I go for now.

Thanks again ... Alan