|Haweswater from Prison Band|
This time I was taking no chances. I got a full refund for the cheap and nasty boots and headed for Ambleside determined to come away with a pair of 'proper' boots that would last me a good few years. This time I invested around £130 in a pair of lightweight leather walking boots that felt like a dream. Only 2 seams and made by Brasher so a fine pair of boots with an excellent pedigree. They were prooperly fitted in the shop and felt wonderful - and so light too for leather boots. My feet, however, have taken a disliking to them, and in particular my heels. The boots are rubbing my heels up the wrong way and each time I go for a decent hike I return with enormous blisters on each foot - blisters so big that even the "large" sized blister plasters don't cover them. I tried breaking them in gently and on short walks my heels behaved impeccably, but as soon as we're 5 miles or so away from the car embroilled in a 10 - 15 mile hiking extravaganza, the trouble starts. I'm determined to kick my heels into shape one way or another as the boots are wonderful in every other way. My mission this weekend is to try and track down a pair of high level hiking socks with padded heels to see if that helps any. Not that I can do any hiking this weekend as my heels are still suffering from last weeks 12.5 mile marathon around the Kentmere Horseshoe. (Edit - socks were indeed the problem, not the boots - it's all here.
Not that my sore heels are the only thing annoying me on long walks. We're now in the middle of tourist season up here and the place is choc full of the once a year outdoor types that we used to be. Nothing wrong with that particularly, this stunning scenery should be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible. My annoyance comes from the lack of respect many people have for the area which shows itself in many ways.
|Litter left near Haweswater|
So who are these people? Well, there's a new breed of hiker that has emerged over recent years and they're the type who think they can climb any mountain armed only with a pair of trainers, a lightweight mac and an iphone. I've even seen people on the top of Helvellyn in flipflops! On some of the popular routes up the main fells on a fine day, you could probably get away with that. There are enough people around so you don't get lost and the paths are clear enough to follow should the mist come down. But these 'hikers' are not content with that, no, they are heading up the more remote fells and finding that the mobile phone signal up here is sporadic at best and that batteries don't last all day. Then the mist falls and the calls to mountain rescue rise. Thankfully the majority of the people involved are found safely and return home in one piece, but that's at a cost to the mountain rescue teams. Personally I think anyone who ventures up onto the fells without the proper equipment and who then needs to call mountain rescue, should get a bill for their services.
So what is the proper equipment for hiking in the fells? Map, compass, the ability to use them, waterproof map cover, spare clothing, food, drink, a waterproof rucksack, common sense and enough respect for your environment that you treat it with caution and take your litter home with you. And of course a decent pair of walking boots. Preferably ones that leave your heels in tact at the end of the day.