Ruth Livingstone, no clue about walkingWhen I set out from King’s Lynn to walk around the coast of Britain, back in April 2010, I hadn’t a clue about long distance walking.

Anybody with two legs can walk, can’t they? You just put one foot in front of the other.

Well, my first walk was far too long and I ended up crippled with blisters. But since then I have learnt a tremendous amount, and had a great deal of help from some wonderful fellow walkers. I now consider myself to be a fairly experienced middle-distance coastal walker.

And I am not alone. There are a whole group of us walking the coastline around mainland Britain. Some of us do it in one go, most of us do it in stages. Some of us walk in groups, most of us do it on our own. We keep in touch via our blogs, via Twitter, via Facebook.

You will find links to other coastal walkers in the right hand column of this blog.

[Please let me know if you are walking the coast and have a blog you would like linked here.]

The most useful web site I discovered is by David Cotton, who did the coastal walk –  in one go – during 2002/2003. See his site for details. I don’t think I would have started my trek if I hadn’t visited his pages and been given the confidence that this walk was possible.

This page used to contain some elementary descriptions of my walking kit. (The comments below relate to these earlier discussions.) Now, with the wisdom gained from experience, I have revamped this section of my blog.

21 Responses to Logistics

  1. bendenise says:

    Very interesting, I like to use Fugawi Ordnance Survey software mapping on an old PDA running windows mobile 2003 with integrated gps, you download a large area of a map onto the pda from a laptop the previous day ready for the walks, you could load the whole coast in if you took the time. It tells you exactly where you are and in which direction you are travelling on the OS map. I have used it all over the UK, I havnt updated it, occasionally a new road has been built but you can easily navigate around it. It takes the worry out of walking and you cant get lost in the dark. I frequently switch off to save power, it doesnt take long to reaquire once you start.

  2. Martyn West says:

    Hi Ruth, Ditch the maps as they are too heavy to carry……use the http://www.getamap.ordnancesurveyleisure.co.uk/ on the os website and pay £30 for a year(they sometimes have special offers on!) then print off as many maps as you like on A4….. hey presto


  3. wingclipped says:

    A GPS might be worth looking into to replace your Trip Journal App. You can leave them switched on and they will track every step you make. Their maps are not good, but you can download a really detailed one for free on the internet. We use a Dakota 20 and would not be without it. I think we paid about £210 for the device and all the accessories but it has proved its worth time and time again. It even tells you when sunset is due which was worryingly useful when we were lost in Fobbing!

    • Ruth Livingstone says:

      Hi there,

      That certainly sounds worth exploring. How long does the battery life last? (the problem with Trip Journal on my iPhone, is I can only leave the tracking running for 3-4 hours maximum)

      Yours, Ruth

      • wingclipped says:

        Hi Ruth – I think the longest we had it on was when we did the Cliffe to Allhallows section which was over 14 miles and 7.5 hours. The link to the walk is http://connect.garmin.com/activity/156580150 – I’ve also gone out once and found the batteries half gone, and so changed them mid-walk. Even though the device was off for the battery change, it picked up where it left off and didn’t interrupt the tracking. Finally, the memory is very large; certainly large enough to track a complete day’s walk. If I lost mine today I’d br ordering another before I went to bed! Nic

  4. Roger W. says:

    Hi, don’t know if this app is available for the iPhone but I have an app on my Android Samsung phone called UK Tides which I find pretty useful.
    Hope that helps.

  5. Hi Ruth
    I love reading your detailed blog and 4 of us are going to set about the southwest coast path this year having more or less done the Pembrokeshire & Ceredigion coast paths over the last few years.
    I was interested in your comments about maps and the use of your iPhone. For many years I used Garmin gps units with some success however their screens leave a lot to be desired. Last year I bought an iPhone 4S and downloaded the Viewranger app for it. What an improvement – I NEVER miss a path now and it is very reassuring to have with me. I can download either the Explorer or Landranger series of OS maps (personally I’d ONLY walk with the Explorer series) and view where I’m going and record the track for my blog as well.

    Looking forward to more of your walks in the future.

    • Hi Graham, I’m looking forward to Pembrokeshire. In Devon/Cornwall I’ve switched back to the OS Explorer maps, the paper version, which I carry with me. I might try the Viewranger app, thank you for the suggestion. I certainly want an app that maps my route and the one I use allows me to take photos too. The main problem with my iPhone (and I have the 3S version) is its short battery life. But I’ve solved that by buying a portable top-up recharger, and that means it lasts a whole day. (Maybe I need to think about upgrading!) Anyway, I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time walking the SWCP.

  6. Hi again Ruth
    I think the 3S is probably not quite up to the job. Viewranger also tends to suck the battery life out of my 4S (a walk of 5 hours duration is about the maximum it can do) and so I take a battery pack with me which works very well. It’s called a Morphi Juice Pack Plus – http://www.mophie.com/shop/iphone-4s-4/juice-pack-plus-iphone-4s-4 and when I use this it gives me a solid minimum of 8hours battery duration.
    Viewranger of course gives me all the stata as well as a gpx file I use on the OS maps on my blog http://bucknellwalkers.blogspot.co.uk/. It will allow me to plot a route (when perhaps the paths are not so obvious when not on a national tail) which I can save on the Viewranger site – then synchronise my iPhone with their site and the route is then available on the phone.
    Perhaps the best thing about it is when I walk alone – my wife can check up on my progress using the Viewranger site using my Buddybeacon information – something your husband might find a comfort.
    Best wishes

  7. JohnBoy says:

    Hi Ruth, just come across your blog and enjoying catching up on your walk so far.

    I suffered from blisters for many years, until I started using microporous tape (usually 3M). I simply put a strip across my heels before a walk and it acts as a sacrificial layer to take all the friction and punishment. Not had a blister in 20 years. I also take my boots off whenever I stop for a longer rest; it really refreshes your feet and they thank you for it.

    Good luck with the walk. Do you have a date when you aim to finish…or is it simply a case of enjoy one day at a time until you arrive back at the start ?

    • Hi there and that’s a great tip for blister prevention. Bizarrely, I get blisters on the underside of my little toes! But just invested in some double socks and they have worked wonders. I have no idea when I’ll finish this walk. Sometimes it feels as though it will last for ever 🙂

  8. Chris Elliott says:

    As a fellow coastal walker can I add my penny worth, which may be of use to your readers. First of all wear thin inner socks, the sort you can buy from Cotswolds, I have had no issues with blisters since I started wearing them. For the non squeamish the solution to ‘large’ blisters, which was told to me by my mother, and which I have used without fail for years is as follows: Pierce the blister with a needle and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Then thread a piece of cotton through the blister using the needle so you have about one inch of cotton sticking out each side of the blister. Squeeze out any more liquid if there is any. Leave the cotton in place for 24 hours but no longer. Basically the cotton acts as a wick and dries out the blister. Don’t leave the cotton for longer as you will have trouble removing it. After 24 hours gently pull the cotton out of the blister. The blister will then heal naturally. The skin will not peal off either. I have used this method for years and so always carry a needle and cotton with me when I walk. Obviously the needle needs to be sterile. The best thing about it is that once the liquid is squeezed out you can carry on walking on the blister, without pain.

    • Hi Chris and thank you for your excellent advice re blisters. I usually pop mine with a needle, after leaving them overnight to ‘develop’ properly. But the hole often closes up and fluid can collect again during the next day’s walk. I didn’t know about the thread tip. Sounds like the solution to the problem!

  9. beautylavender says:

    Hi Ruth, its great to find your site. I was thinking of doing some long distance walks in England this spring/summer. My main concern is accommodation expense. Is there such a thing as cheap B&Bs in England, how do you go about finding a place to stay on your travels?

    • Hi there and what a great idea for a trip to England!

      Yes, there are cheap B&Bs in England, but some of the luxury B&Bs are more expensive than hotels. And prices will go up in school holidays and over English bank-holiday weekends. https://www.gov.uk/bank-holidays

      Weekdays may be cheaper than weekends. The really cheap places may expect you to share a bathroom (this is often obvious from their web sites). Others may provide a shower as a cubicle inside the bedroom. The cheapest places are often Pubs with B&B rooms attached, or small hotels. You could try a cheap hotel chain, such as Premier Inns: http://www.premierinn.com/

      I usually do an internet search and find Trip Advisor helpful.
      And the Long Distance Walkers Association website is useful for planning walks: http://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/search_by_path.php although the accommodation details are not very comprehensive and often out of date.

      Hope this is helpful.

  10. Andrew Howitt says:

    Hello Ruth.

    I just wondered how you manage the logistics of getting to these places and getting home again. Do you park up and then get a bus / taxi / train back to your car at the end of the day / days / week? I assume the further away places mean you can’t do single days.


    • Hi Andrew, in some places the logistics are easy, where there is a coastal bus route (as in North Norfolk) or a coastal train. In other places it is very difficult and then I find my husband invaluable. He parks, goes for a long cycle ride somewhere inland, then returns to the car and drives to pick me up! Or, sometimes, he drops me off and drives to the end of the walk, then walks to meet me. At the moment I’m in Wales on my own, left the car at home, and am entirely reliant on public transport! I’ve used baggage transfer services occasionally, but find them expense and it means you have to plan every day of walking in advance. Sometimes I’ve had to resort to doing circular walks.
      It all takes loads of planning!

  11. Bejaysunny says:

    Ah, logistics! We have a policy of using only our campervan and public transport with our bus passes, only accepting lifts from friends/ family if they are walking with us for that section. On the Coast to Coast, that meant walking one section of the North Yorks Moors in BOTH DIRECTIONS on the same day. We walked in April and after brightening up the dark days of winter planning the whole 2 week adventure around a bus which ran ‘On Thursday, alternate weeks’. Shock of shocks, I found out just before departure that new summer timetables had been issued which were completely different, rather than just more frequent, as I had assumed! A hasty revision of the spreadsheets followed and fortunately all went surprisingly to plan, although we did think we might be stranded when the fortnightly bus turned out to be on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays and we were standing there on the 5th! All was well when It finally rolled into view, 30 mins late! Our tip would be to ALWAYS USE THE BUS IN THE MORNING, not at the end of a walk. You do not want to spoil a good day’s walking by worrying about transport to you bed, whether it be tent, camper or luxury B & B – or worse still, nodding off and missing your stop!

  12. Matt says:

    Hi Ruth, love the work on your site,

    I am building a site where I have a Free online navigation course which I think could be of use to your readers to help them safely go on hiking trips.

    You can find it here: https://bondringo.com/walking/

    I am just starting out and I would love to get some more people on my site to let me know what they think.


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