The Sandstone Trail – 1st Solo Long Distance Hike

5 September 2018

So I just returned from my very first two day hike. I covered 36 miles the beginning to the end of the Sandstone Trail in Cheshire, England. It’s not far from where I live, quite rugged but with flat parts too, kind of how I imagined the coastal path to be in Anglesey.

I made two videos whilst hiking the Sandstone Trail and from what turned out to be a truly learning experience (IT HURT. A LOT). I’ve made note of a few mistakes that I made along the way.

Too much weight

Apparently everyone does it, I was convinced that I had the right kit and that there was nothing I couldn’t spare. I was definitely wrong.
My bag weighed in just over 40lbs. I carry big camera bags and packs a lot so I assumed carrying this would be fine. It wasn’t. I think it ultimately lead to many of the issues I had below.

The wrong footwear

I’ve been wearing a pair of Anatom walking boots for over a year now, they’ve seen me good in Snowdonia and regularly walking the dog in them so I naturally assumed they were well broken in and the perfect shoe for a task like this. Sadly my feet got absolutely battered. I had blisters on the undersides of my heels and on the balls of my feet. My toenail was everso slightly long too and whilst I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort it’s gone black and will probably fall off (wtf?).
I wore a liner sock underneath a trekking sock, both not cheap, they absolutely didn’t work.
I could barely stand up at the end of the trip. Thankfully I kept some foam shoes in my bag for camp. I spent days afterwards hobbling not only from the blisters but absolute aching to the bone pain. 

The wrong clothing?

I nailed the clothes, I wore thin layers and managed to regulate my temperature pretty well. It only rained on and off, my new Haglofs windbreaker is super lightweight and kept some light rain off. It’s very thin though, probably too thin for a coastal path walk where the winds and rain are really going to beat down.  The most important clothes for myself are my leggings (or alternatively compression shorts). I get terrible chafing on my thighs when I walk for a prolonged period so getting something close to the skin is vital to stop that pain developing. I need a slightly more stretchy pair of shorts to go over them to allow good leg movement too.
I’m going to save some clothes for camp, I can afford to keep my Icebreaker top and a pair of leggings/socks/underwear for just in the tent and sleeping in. I think it’s going to be a good morale boost to have warm, dry, fresh(ish!) clothes at the end of the day. The foam shoes are deffo coming too.

The only bad decision I made was to use my Icebreaker as my main layer, whilst it wicked a lot away, I think sticking with a technical sports top to get rid of sweat is the way to go.

The wrong food

My food was too heavy. I opted for the packet tuna and heavier items. I was excited to eat them for breakfast just so I didn’t have to carry them. 😉
More pasta’s, dehydrated noodles, mash potato and soups next time. The coastal path allows me to drop into the occasional pub and cafe, hoping to fill up there!

Camera Gear

I took a lot of camera kit but I feel that it mostly needs to stay. It also needs to be immediately available so I’m moving my XT-2 and my Canon G7X into my front bumbag for ease. I’m only taking my 23mm f2 lens for some nice photos, coupled with a new ND filter to try some long exposure bits by the sea.
I’m going to be snapping bits and bobs with my Google Pixel XL (V1) and combining it with a cheap lightweight wide-angle lens off Amazon and also the brilliant Polar Pro ND filters.
Speaking of Polar Pro, I’m bringing a single ND4/PL filter to go on my Mavic Pro drone. I love that filter, can’t wait to shoot with it out there. (If my pack feels light, I may stash another drone battery in ;))

I learnt a lot of little useful bits that I’m sure will creep up in the videos along the way but one of the biggest takeaways was that I need to rest more. Take breaks, air my feet and chill out. It’s meant to be fun, not a race.

Not long now, see for yourselves what happened on the Sandstone Trail.

Any thoughts on this piece? I'd love to hear them :)