Thursday, October 06, 2016

Farewell to long distance walking

לַכֹּל זְמָן   

Yes, as the sage says, "there is a time for everything". And my time for long distance walking has run out.
At 70 and with some health problems, as light the latter might be, I don't feel any more in embarking on long distance hikes; especially abroad.
Already, during my last stroll a year ago in Portugal, I was obliged to skip some legs because I was unwell; it was a kind of warning. So, obtorto collo, I have reached the sad decision: "farewell to long distance walking".

I have enjoyed great moments in ten years of hiking. I only regret not having started earlier; but it was a kind of destiny; as I told in my very first post, I got the inspiration for long distance walking by a dream!

Many thanks to all my gentle readers and plenty of nice hikes to any walker!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A short hike along the Alentejo coast

In these last years I have been learning the Portuguese language. Thus, in order to give a try to my new linguistic ability, I decided to embark on a long distance walking in Portugal.
One week ago I went for the first time to Portugal where I visited Lisbon and walked along the splendid coast of Alentejo.

The Alentejo coast trail is a four legs hike of about 20 km a day.
It is called "Fishermen's Trail" (Trilho dos Pescadores) and, with the "Historical Way" and some circular routes, it is part of the "Rota Vicentina", a recent project of a walking system in the region.
The Fishermen's Trail lays along a gorgeous and unspoiled (protected area) coast of the Atlantic in southern Portugal.

The coast is mainly red sandstone around 60 meters over sea level. Sometimes the stone is also black or dark and stratified (like in Wales). But what is amazing is that on top of the cliffs (where one actually walks) there is a deep layer of sand dunes with the typical fragrant Mediterranean vegetation.
In the last leg (coming from the South) there are also very long stretches on beaches.
Between the end of leg villages there is definitely nothing; only savage nature!
The villages are very nice: whitewashed houses, bright colour framed.

Unfortunately I was obliged to skip two legs because I wasn't well.


Because the mild temperature I didn't carry a second fleece; neither did I carry shelter nor bedding, having booked ahead the relevant accommodations.
Thus, with 1.5 l of water and some reserve food I carried a scarce 4 kg rucksack.


The ocean breakers, the smell, Vila Nova de Milfontes

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hiking in the Isle of Arran

I usually set out for linear walks and, in order to find accommodation at suitable leg distances, I avoid high season.
Unfortunately this year I couldn't plan for a spring or early summer trip and I only had a free week in July at the last moment.
So, beside camping every night (too bad for my age and Britain climate), a solution would be to walk in an area where public transport be available all day long.
The Isle of Arran offers 3 buses lines covering most part of the island from early morning to late night. Fantastic.
Moreover a few years ago I had planned to hike in Arran but, unfortunately, I was obliged to cancel my trip because a sudden illness.
I was lucky to found a cheap weekly accommodation overlooking Whiting Bay in the south-east coast of the island.
Arran is considered to be "Scotland in miniature": she features sea coasts, rivers, forests, moorlands and mountains. So I decided to dedicate my five days of walking to the different terrains there available.

DAY ONE (July 16th)

A tough walk along the pathless south-east coast from Whiting Bay to the hotel near Kildoan.
Probably only 8 km but strenuous because very rough bouldery or pebbly terrain and Dipping Head to be negotiated at low tide.
Gorgeous rocks, seen a seal and many sea birds, a short refreshing swim in the cold sea.


DAY TWO (July17th)

An other tough and wet hike through forests and moorland from Whiting Bay to Lamlash.
Firstly on roads and forest track to the Glenashdale Falls; then through pathless moorland (Cnoc Mòr) and forest (compass mandatory); finally forest track and road.
Very demanding in the pathless section of forest because each step must be checked due to high layer of dead branches covered with moss.


DAY THREE (July 18th)

A walk along the north-east coast from North Sannox to Lochranza.
Mainly pebbly and rocky vague tracks.
Gorgeous scenery and panorama of Kintire Peninsula, Firth of Clyde and Isle of Bute.
Unfortunately second part walked in a hurry to catch the last bus.


DAY FOUR (July 19th)

A tough climb from Sannox to the brow of Cioch na h-Oighe and back (7 km).
My intention was to get to the top and then through the ridge gain Goat Fell from where to descend to Corrie on the coast.
But, already exhausted by wet and rough partly pathless bracken and heather terrain, when I arrived to the steepest part of the mountain I couldn't find any passage to the top I could be able to climb, considering my fitness and mountaineering skill (very poor).
So, a bit disappointed, I retraced my steps to the starting point.


DAY FIFTH (July 20th)

A walk along the west coast from Blackwaterfoot to Machrie Bay with a detour inland to visit a stone circles site.
Beautiful coast and megalithic monuments but partly spoiled by heavy rain all the day long.



I enjoyed very much hiking in Arran but without the charm of the linearity of a real long distance walking.
The terrain and the weather was very demanding. I must confess that I am beginning to be a little tired of the British rain and bogs.  I am thinking about a long distance walk in a more mild area: Rota Vicentina in southern Portugal?



As I was staying at the same place all the week I didn't have to carry all my normal gear so I had the advantage to walk extremely light: water, food, cutlery, poncho, fleece and jacket. A feather.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A walk in Devon

Short but one of the most beautiful of my long distance walks.

As a matter of fact it was split in two parts:
  1. Two days on the skirt of the Dartmoor National Park - mainly along the Dartmoor Way - from Ramsley (near Okehampton) to Bovey Tracey (about 40 km.);
  2. Five days along the South West Coast Path from Brixham to Salcombe (about 55 km).
The latter stretch is a bit short for a five days walk but I had to cope with accommodations and ferries.

I chose to walk the first two days inland because I wanted to look closer to the inner Devon which I had found so gorgeous going on bus from Bude to Exeter a few years ago.

And I wasn't disappointed: the area is definitely very beautiful and varied: woods, moorland, meadows, fields and fantastic thatched stone cottages.

Excepted the stretch behind the shingle of Slapton Sands, which I found ordinary, all the rest is simply splendid.
My favourite: from Hallsands to Portlemouth Downs; fantastic coves stunning views.

I have to say that I was blessed by a fantastic weather. Never had such in Britain. Sometimes even too hot; I had to carry more than 2 litres of water instead that the usual 1 litre.
I swam a lot (my first bathe in Britain) and I even got sunburnt!

I was obliged to camp in a wood 2 miles before Dartmouth because I couldn't call for accommodation due to lack of network signal.

Seen a lot of birds, butterflies, wild Dartmoor ponies, a group of seals and even an adder.

Only one regret: too short!

PS: for the gear list, excepted more water, essentially the same as in my previous solo walks.

Please see more photos at the relevant album.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How To Open A Can Without A Can Opener

I usually don't carry any can opener during my hikes nor any kind of knife.
Not only because such gear is not allowed on aircraft but especially because I aim for a still ultra-lighter walking.

But, thanks to the trick you can watch in the video below, in my next hikes I will be able to open a can just with a stone or a piece of concrete.


How To Open A Can Without A Can Opener

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Shortened Hike in the Upper Tiber Area

Before the medieval Ponte alla Piera bridge
A few days ago I decided to embark on the long distance walk I had had in mind for many years: from Città di Castello (where I was born) to Florence (where I spent most important parts of my life).
I cannot say how many kilometres it might be as there isn't any definite trail.
I had thought to pass through the hills where there are some paths (in the valleys it is impossible to walk on footpaths)
Roughly the route should have been: Città di Castello - Citerna - Anghiari - Caprese - Chiusi - Badia Prataglia - Vallombrosa - Florence.

I knew that central Italy is normally hot in July and such a hike should be undertaken in early spring or in October (the latter to avoid because the hunting). But this year the weather seemed rather unsettled and less hot, so I decided to set out anyway without waiting for next spring. I am 67 and hill walking is getting tougher.

Poplars along the Tiber at dawn
At 5 a.m. on last July the 7th I set off from the Northern outskirts of Città di Castello which I crossed to get to the Tiber bank. There I followed the beautiful path along the river bearing NW.
At dawn I left the river bank and, after some up and downs through the hills, I got to Citerna where I admired the recently restored "Madonna di Citerna", a fantastic painted terracotta by Donatello.
Monterchi from the climb to Citerna
Being still too early for lunch I continued to walk and, after a descent I started, in very hot weather, to climb the steep slope to Anghiari where I arrived exhausted around 2 p.m.
I had lunch in a restaurant and being still early afternoon and having already visited Anghiari many times I went back to Città di Castello by bus where I remained at my sister's home the following day as well. I was very tired and stiff. In fact I had walked more than 28 km without previous training.

The next day I went by bus to Anghiari and walked up to Caprese Michelangelo (> 20 km) where I spent the night in an hotel.
Next morning I got up with a severe pain in my right knee. I realized that it would have been excruciating to continue walking the steep up and downs laying ahead. And, moreover, the heat was already unbearable so, sadly, I gave up the hike and returned to Città di Castello by bus.


1. Summer is definitely too hot for hiking in that area.
2. Because the long legs over hills, a suitable previous training is mandatory in order to avoid inflammations to knees, ankles, feet, etc.


No significant difference from the previous hikes. I didn't carry the second fleece nor the power plug adapter but the gain was balanced by more water and food needed because the heat and the distance between refreshment points.


The landscape is gorgeous. The path is rather well signposted but scarcely a footpath: often tarmacked roads and country lanes (at least the section I have walked).
La Verna in the background

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fife Coastal Path

At the start with the Rail Bridge behind

My second long distance walk in Scotland. But this time I was lucky (save for a severe pain in a foot): no incessant rain nor flooded terrain like last summer along the Berwickshire Coastal Path.
On the contrary, dry weather (save some drizzles during the last leg) and even two shining sunny days.

As a matter of fact, I didn't walk the whole path. I started from Inverkeithing on the Firth of Forth and finished at St Andrew on the Firth of Tay.
By bus I skipped some bleak conurbations (Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Buckhaven and Methil).
I have walked about 90 km in 4 full days and 2 half days (first and last legs) which amounts to an average of 18 km per day.
The shortest leg was about 10 km (Inverkeithing-Aberdour) walked on the afternoon of June the 17th arriving directly from Edinburgh Airport.
The longest one was about 27 km from St Monans to Pitmilly B&B (between Kingsbarns and St Andrews).
The path is generally easy with a few steep up-and-downs especially between Kingsbarns and St Andrews.
The signposting is excellent; I lost the track only once probably in a moment of inattentiveness.
Walking barefoot the long beach East of Lower Largo

Gorgeous pink sandy beaches, birds (herons, oystercatchers, wrens, kites, etc.), some nice coastal villages, lush woods.

But what I loved best was seeing three seals placidly swimming near the coast. It is the first time in my life that I see a seal in the real world (see above video).

Bleak conurbations (Kinghorn, Kirkcaldy, Buckhaven and Methil).

Nothing new: 4 kg rucksack load with half liter of water and basic camping gear (mattress, sleeping bag, poncho shelter, pegs  and pole).

Perhaps the Cleveland Way in September when heather in full blossom.
Approaching St Andrews. Tayside in the background

Saturday, May 04, 2013

From Chepstow to Gloucester

From 25th to 30th of April, together with my whole family, I walked about 70 km from Chepstow (Wales) to Gloucester (England).

From Chepstow to Monmouth we followed the Wye Valley Walk; often on woody tracks and, mainly, on the Wales side of the river.

At Monmouth we took the Wysis Way through the Forest of Dean and, finally, across the Gloucester country side before getting to Gloucester.

We were jolly lucky with the weather: fresh but often sunny and no rain at all.

The landscape was beautiful but, especially in Wales, not so well kept and clean  as in other part of British trails (e.g. Ridgeway, South Down Way, etc.).

The signposting of both trails is far from satisfactory.  In spite of my long distance walking experience, we lost the track from time to time.

Gear: no sensibly different from my ultra-light equipment of previous hikes without camping gear: 4.2 kg with food and 1 l. water.
Highlights: woods and forests, carpets of anemones, violets and bluebells (sadly not yet in full blossom), huge oak and yew trees, red kites; Tintern Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral.

Conclusion: I would rank this hike of average quality compared to my previous ones. One week later we could have enjoyed full blossom of bluebells.

A final word about Tintern Abbey: I was a little disappointed. But, as Proust so remarkably analyses: there's the result of the real world impact on the imagination constructions!

Look at the photos taken during the hike.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A boggy hike through Scotland and England

The cliffs between Eyemouth and Berwick u. Tweed
From the 7th to the 15th of July I walked along the South East Coast of Scotland and North East Coast of England.
Initially I had planned a 180 km hike. Firstly along the coast from North Berwick (near Edinburgh) down to Holy Island (Northumberland) and then, following the St Cuthbert's Way, finishing at Jedburgh after a little stretch on the Border Abbeys Way.

Unfortunately, after two months of continuous heavy rain, paths and tracks were often ankle deep boggy and sometimes even flooded. So advancing was painful and slow. During my last leg, a few miles after Belford, I had even to wade knee deep a large field in order to get to the stile.
Even with gaiters, (that I could get only at Berwick upon Tweed. I had never carried any), footwear, socks and trousers were awfully soaked and muddy.
Two times I had to stop for a day in order to dry footwear and socks.
So, having lost two days I was obliged to shorten the hike. I changed the itinerary as well, remaining along the coast in the hope of finding a less flooded and boggy soil.

So, this year, my hikes are marked by pretty bad weather! See previous post.


July 7th North Berwick - East Linton

Because the heavy rain that had been pouring all the night long I was quite resolved to skip the first leg and take a bus to St Abbs. As there was a spell just after breakfast I decided to set out on foot.
But the path was covered by high grasses so wet that, only after half an hour walk, my feet were splashing in footwear full of water and mud.
Sometimes the soil was so boggy that progressing was very difficult if at all.
I decided then to quit the path and follow tarmacked country lanes. Although the traffic was scarce it was dangerous nonetheless because the narrowness of the roads and the speed of the cars. I saw even two deer killed by cars.
I got exhausted to East Linton after about 7 km of hard walking. I had a cake and coffee in a nice café and then took the bus to Dunbar where I remained the following day in order to dry my footwear and socks.

July 9th St Abbs - Eyemouth

Due to the awfully bad weather and the state of the soil it would have been difficult to camp, especially with my tiny shelter. I was then obliged to skip the stretch from Dunbar to St Abbs where no accommodation is available. So I went by bus from Dunbar to St Abbs from where I walked the 6 km to Eyemouth. A short leg indeed but hard nonetheless because the state of the soil.

July 10th Eymouth - Berwick upon Tweed
A natural arch

During the 18 km of this stretch heavy rain, wet high grasses and deep bog continued and I was obliged to stop one day at Berwick u. Tweed in order to dry footwear, socks and trousers. I also bought a pair of gaiters.

July 12th Berwick upon Tweed - Brockmill Farm (near Beal)

Luckily a good deal of this 19 km hike was along the beach so I got to the B&B in better condition than usually.

July 13th Brockmill Farm - Holy Island - Brockmill Farm
The causeway to Holy Island (in the background)

I had originally planned to stay in Holy Island but no accommodation was available in spite of the awful weather. So I stayed at the splendid Brockmill Farm which I warmly recommend for its quality and the niceness of the landlady.
I didn't want to miss Holy Island so on the 13th I walked the 9 km to the island and came back crossing the lagoon at low tide in order to avoid the dangerous and fastidious car traffic of the causeway. I must confess that although the tide was still ebbing I was a bit thrilled when I was in the middle of the lagoon a 2,5 km from each end. The information panel said that the crossing along the poles, besides to be never undertaken  by rising tide, should be always done with some guide. I proceeded warily and I was a bit comforted seeing many recent footprints.
A refuge along the crossing of the lagoon

 July 14th Brockmill Farm - Belford

This leg was only 11 km but hard nonetheless: bog over the ankles along a great deal of the trail. Luckily I wore gaiters but, unfortunately, they promoted inflammation to the main tendon. I had bought the only kind I could find and they are not fit for me.

July 15th Belford - Bramburgh

Approaching Bramburgh from the beach
I started high spirited: at last no rain and even some spells of sun!
But alas my pains were not over. I found high wet grasses and deep bog until I reached the Budle Bay sands, just before the end of the leg.
And it is in this very leg that I was even obliged to wade knee deep a flooded field just after Belford.
When eventually I got to the beach I took off boots and socks and I walked the last 3 km naked feet in order to let the footwear dry a little: I had to spend the night in the airport waiting for my 6:30 A.M. flight.


No significant differences with my previous hike in South West France (see last post). I only carried an additional fleece in case of cold nights at the camp.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A stroll through South West France

I am just back home after about 80 km walking in South West France from the 7th to the 12th of June .

As a matter of fact it wasn't a continuous stretch but it was divided in three sections as I am going to explain below.

Compared to my previous hikes this last one shows a lower rate km/days. This depends on various reasons:
  •  In planning the hike I wanted to walk along the Aveyron Gorges by the GR 36 and then follow the Célé valley through the GR 65 and GR 651, starting from Laguépie and finishing up at Cahors. But there isn't any trail linking directly the end of the Aveyron Gorges with the Célé valley so I decided to split my hike in two sections and travel by public transport from Villefranche de Rouergue (upon the Aveyron) to Figeac (upon the Célé) avoiding thus a very long detour through a less spectacular area.
  • I started the hike without a previous training and I wasn't quite fit either because some health troubles. Moreover, the weather was pretty hot and the trail rather steep. So, I got to the end of the first day at Monteils quite exhausted and with stiff legs. In addition, during the night it started to rain which, unfortunately, continued heavily during all the following days of my walking. Thus, in the morning, I decided to skip the second leg and, by itch hike and coach I went to Figeac where started the second stretch of the route I had planned.
  • When I got to Sauliac upon Célé, my cell phone refused to work and no public phone available there. So I couldn't enquiry for any accommodation. I had mattress and shelter but, since it had been raining for two days, the ground was awfully wet and, furthermore, full of sharp pebbles. Thus camping didn't seem a pleasant solution. The village appeared desert and I began to be a little worried. Luckily, at last, a lady came out of her house and was so kind as to call the local B&Bs for me. The only one available was pretty off the trail but the landlady (English) fetched me up. She was also willing to carry me to the trail in the following morning. As her house was as far from where she had picked me up as from the next village along the trail (Cabrerets) she said she could give me a lift to any one of the two spots. Thus, a bit discouraged by the very bad weather and by the mentioned health troubles I chose the latter solution shortening the hike of about 10 km.
  • View of Albi
  • From Cabreret upon the Célé I walked up to Bouziès where the GR 651 merges into the GR 36 (main St. James' Way) and the river Célé flows into the river Lot. I had planned to continue up to Cahors along the Lot valley but the still persisting bad weather with depressing black clouds and annoying continuous rain made me decide to finish there my hike and so I got a car to Cahors from where, after a short visit to the town (not particularly enchanting) I went to Albi, a wonderful town where I spent the two days remaining before my flight.


Despite the bad weather and the health troubles it was a splendid hike: gorgeous sceneries, enchanting stone villages, charming people, delicious food, ...
Falaises over the Célé valley
Apropos delicious food and charming people I want just to mention Mme Pierrete who keeps the Auberge Restaurant at Marcilhac upon Célé. She is a very pleasant lady and a magnificent cook. At that same restaurant I had a nice chat with an English couple as well.




No significant changes to my last hikes. The only one worthwhile to mention is that, being a keen reader, for 170 g. of additional weight, I allowed me the luxury of an eBook reader which is especially agreeable when waiting at airports and stations.

Gear list

Number in Number Weight Total weight Total weight
Item Rucksack Worn per unit Worn in rucksack
Camera 0 1 121 121 0
Camera battery charger 1 0 93 0 93
Camera battery spare 1 0 15 0 15
Canteen (Gourde by Liquitainer) 1 0 29 0 29
Cell phone 0 1 77 77 0
Cell phone battery charger 1 0 43 0 43
Cleenex 1 1 27 27 27
Cutlery 1 0 39 0 39
Documents (maps, accommodation, etc.) 1 0 110 0 110
Fleece light (Montane) 0 0 231 0 0
Fleece light Active (Montane) 0 1 257 257 257
Food (rice cakes, dried fruit, fruit bars) 1 0 670 0 670
Ground Cloth 1 0 35 0 35
Hat 0 1 107 107 0
Holdall (A.M.K. Bivvy Compression Bag) 1 0 7 0 7
Jacket (Montane Prism 2.0) 1 0 421 0 421
Kindle 1 0 170 0 170
Mattress (Therm-a-Rest New Air) 1 0 400 0 400
Mattress Repair Kit 1 0 11 0 11
Medicine 1 0 61 0 61
Notebook 0 1 32 32 0
Pants 1 1 32 32 32
Pen 0 1 13 13 0
Poncho-Shelter (Gatewood Cape by Six Moon Designs) 1 0 323 0 323
Rucksack (Gossamer Gear – Murmur) 1 0 202 0 202
Sewing kit 1 0 8 0 8
Shoes 0 1 636 636 0
Sleeping Bag (HighLite by Western Mountaineering) 1 0 471 0 471
Socks 1 1 78 78 78
T-shirt (DriMove BL1 by GoLite) 0 1 134 134 0
T-shirt (in cotton for sleeping) 1 0 115 0 115
Tent Harness 1 0 20 0 20
Tent Pegs 6 0 10 0 60
Tent Pole 1 0 55 0 55
Thermometer-Compass (by Recta) 0 1 10 10 0
Toilet paper 1 0 40 0 40
Tooth brush 1 0 15 0 15
Torch (Photon Micro-Light II) 0 1 9 9 9
Towel 1 0 48 0 48
Walking trousers 0 1 374 374 0
Wallet 0 1 143 143 0
Water 1 l. 1 0 1,000 0 1,000
Total (in grams)

1,929 4,864

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some of the Ridgeway and Thames Path

I am just back from a five days stroll along the Ridgeway and the Thames Path.
This was a very special hike in the history of my long distance walking: I had the pleasure to walk with both my daughters (Héloïse 24 and Beatrice 20) and, moreover, the last two days (on flat terrain) with my wife Chantal.

We set out the 3d of August from the East end of the Ridgeway on Beacon Hill (Buckinghamshire). The third day we left the Ridgeway about two kilometers after Watlington (Oxfordshire), and through various footpaths, we arrived at Wallingford where we met my wife (60 km from the beginning of the hike).

The following day we took the Thames Path northwards all the four and, after staying at a B&B in Sutton Courtenay, we got the following day to Oxford (the last few km by bus): the end of our journey.

We had only one day of very bad weather with rather heavy rain all the day long. My Goretex trail shoes (Innov-8 Rocklight 318 GTX), although meant to be waterproof, were soaked after only two hours! I am wondering whether it could be possible to find a lightweight shoe really waterproof!

We enjoyed the Ridgeway: varied  landscapes and gorgeous beech woods where we caught sight of squirrels and red kites.
On the contrary, we didn't like so much the Thames Path (at least the stretch we walked). We found it quite monotonous.


I can boast to have improved my quest for ultra light walking. My rucksack with food and 1l water was only 4 k.

I learned that, at least in such populated country as Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, I can further reduce the food to a minimum emergency ration.

In this hike I had previously reserved the accommodation for all the legs, so I didn't carry the mattress nor the tent pole and stakes although I brought the tent because it works as a poncho as well. This, saved me a kilo.

One last detail: my Murmur, an ultra light rucksack by Gossamer Gear, has got too long shoulder straps for my size (it is made in only one size). The designer is a tall American while I am a rather short Mediterranean.
So the sternum strap is too low and the weight doesn't distribute perfectly. I will then be obliged to make some modifications.

Number in Number Weight Total weight Total weight
Item Rucksack Worn per unit Worn in rucksack
1 121 121 0
Camera battery charger 1
101 0 101
Camera battery spare 1
Canteen 1
Cell phone
1 77 77 0
Cell phone battery charger 1
43 0 43
Cleenex 2 1 27 27 54
Cutlery 1
Documents (maps, accommodation, timetables, etc.) 1
139 0 139
Fleece light (Montane) 1
Fleece light Active (Montane)
1 257
Food (rice cakes, dried fruit, sesame crunch) 1
1 107 107 0
Holdall (A.M.K. Bivvy Compression Bag) 1
Jacket 1
Medicine 1
1 32 32 0
Orthopaedic insoles 1
90 0 90
Pants 1 1 28 28 28
1 13 13 0
Poncho-Shelter 1
323 0 323
Power adapter 1
39 0 39
Rucksack (Gossamer Gear – Murmur) 1
202 0 202
Sewing kit 1
8 0 8
1 636 636 0
Socks 1 1 78 78 78
T-shirt 0 1 134 134 0
T-shirt (in cotton for sleeping) 1 0 118 0 118
1 10 10 0
Toilet paper 1
44 0 44
Tooth brush 1
15 0 15
1 9 9 9
Walking trousers
1 374 374 0
1 143 143 0
Water 1 l. 1
1,000 0 1,000
Total (in grams)

1,668 4,061


I am thinking to embark, at the end of August, on an old project: walking from my home town (Città di Castello in Umbria) to Florence. I am studying the best route: otherwise than UK, Italy is a very poor country in public footpaths (see my very first post on this matter).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A (Sadly) Curtailed Hike along the South West Coast Path

Being retired since the beginning of this year, I was pretty enthusiastic to be able, at last, to set out on longer hikes than my previous ones, limited to the holidays.
So, last week, I flew to Bristol in order to embark on a 12 days hike along the South West Coast Path, from Padstow (Cornwall) to Minehead (Somerset) (270 km).

Unfortunately, at the end of the third leg, I didn't feel well at all. I don't know if it was due to the effect of the oceanic iodine (I suffer of a light hyperthyroidism) or to the exhaustion (it is a really tough path) or a combination of both or whatever.
I was a bit concerned about the symptoms and, anyway, I didn't feel in the mode to continue the trip any further. Thus I went to Bristol and flew back home.

On the whole I walked a little bit more than 50 km, from Padstow to Crackington Haven, stopping in Port Isaac, Tintagel and Crackington Haven.

I must confess that although the coast was pretty gorgeous, I am afraid that after a few more days I would have found it a bit monotonous.
I found the North Cornish Coast rather similar to Pembrokeshire (I mean the coastal landscape) but more affected by tourism. So, even if Cornish villages are definitely nicer than Welsh ones, I liked better the Pembrokeshire Coast Path: I am keen on unspoilt area.

Mind you, gentle reader, the SWCP is really very tough. The coast is generally high but, at any stream (and there are so many), the path drops abruptly down to sea level and then rises steeply again. But what makes it definitely exhausting is the shape of the path. Very often, instead to go up and down in hairpin way in order to have a more gradual ascent it goes straight on and, moreover, often through very high steps. The knees get hurt going down and the muscles strain quite hard during the ascent.


The main difference between the gear I carried in this last hike and that of the previous one (see Cévennes) concerns mattress and rucksack. I replaced the closed cell foam mat (Z-Lite) with an air mattress (Thermarest Neo Air) which is about the same weight but, being very compact when deflated, has the advantage to fit in a smaller and lighter rucksack. So I replaced the Golite Jam-2 rucksack (51 l. and 700 g.) with Gossamer Gear Murmur (35 l. and 202 g.) which, besides being pretty lighter, is definitely more comfortable because its better weight distribution.
Moreover, in my quest for the ideal ultralight walking, I saved some more weight dropping mug, fuel, lighter and instant coffee: studying the map I realized that even if I had to camp I could soon find a place where to have a coffee in the morning; which for me is sacrosant.
But although I saved some hundreds of grams, eventually, the total weight I carried was nearly the same as that of the previous hike. In fact, having planned to walk many more days I carried much more food.

A doleful remark: my Innov-8 Rocklite 318 GTX trail shoes have once again revealed some flaws.
Firstly one cushion collapsed on the inner side causing a light inflammation to the foot and the ankle.
Secondly, although due to their Goretext membrane they are advertised as waterproof, after about two hours of moderate rain my feet were thoroughly soaked. Luckily, at the inn where I stayed, the heating was working!

So if there is any walker luckier than myself in finding a really waterproof light shoe, I beg him to tell me about it.


I have already organized for next August a six day hike along part of the Ridgeway and the Thames path with my daughters and my wife.

For the next solos I am considering GR 7 Alpujarras section. I would like to go there when the almond trees are in blossom but I am wondering if in February, at about 1000 m., it is not too cold to camp. So, once again, if some gentle reader has been there, please tell me about.

In Autumn I would like to hike from Città di Castello (where I was born) to Florence (where I have spent the most important part of my life). There is not a well defined trail. One has to design it oneself and there are many choices about the route to follow.
One simple, but tough and probably not the most beautiful route is to climb to the top of the Apennines directly from Città di Castello (about 15 km.) and then follow the ridge up to Florence region where to drop into the city.
An other route, which seems to me more attractive, is to follow the river Tiber up to Monterchi than to pass by Anghiari, Caprese Michelangelo, Badia Prataglia, Vallombrosa. Then drop down to the stream Sieve from where to climb to Settignano. From Settignato it is possible to catch a bus for Florence or follow a large footpath with many steps which goes down to Rovezzano in the outskirts of Florence.

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