Getting a virtual walking fix – The Outdoors Station podcast

The withdrawal symptoms were starting to take their toll, and my feet now get blisters just walking to the pub, but thankfully I can now get a virtual outdoors fix – The Outdoor Station autumn series 2008 podcast has just started.

I had never heard of the podcasts until a chap left me a message on this blog.  I quickly got hooked with the coverage of The European Outdoor Trade Fair at Friedrichshafen – well all that talk of gadgets was bound to get my attention.  I now have a long wish list to drool over during the winter.

There was a great little series on the Cape Wrath Trail – which is now on my list of long distance walks to do, and a fabulous podcast on Cicerone Press
‘The Book Of The Bivvy’ – which was so good it even got me thinking about the possibilities bivvying could bring me and I went out and brought the book.

Páramo – a great suit of armour against the elements

paramojacket.jpg paramotrousers.jpg Páramo make some excellent kit to protect you against the elements, and all that the weather can throw at you. They are exceedingly comfortable and thankfully don’t rustle when you wear them.

It being nearly midsummer in the UK I am looking out my waterproof jacket and trousers for a weekend of walking in Sussex – the forecast is lousy again.

I have an Alta II Jacket and Cascada Trousers.  They both make use of Nikwax Analogy Waterproof technology, with a liner that is said to mimic the action of animal fur – pushing liquid water outwards to protect you from rain.

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Travelling well, listening to podcasts

I am a great fan of podcasts, and often take a few episodes with me while I am out and about, and one of my absolute favourites is The Indie Travel Podcast with Craig and Linda.

I came to them late (around episode #35) but after a few episodes I quickly fell for their easy presenting styles, sage advice, and interesting travels. It was not long before I downloaded their entire back catalogue and sat down with a large cup of tea to listen to them all.

I have never met Craig or Linda, but feel I know them quite well and we have conversed about SmartWool Socks and Kiva. I was over the moon to listen to an Indie Travel Podcast episode to hear that they thought the socks worked well during their Camino de Santiago de Compostela walk, and that they have dipped their toes into Kiva.org and have started to support low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world through Kiva.

Walking stick (MK1)

Walking Stick (MK1) Walking Stick (MK1) Walking Stick (MK1) - useful for testing the depth of snowdrifts!

There are many types of walking aids, from walking sticks to hiking and trekking poles – made from a wondrous variety of materials.

I prefer a simple wooden stick to aid me on my travels, and it has come in very handy when clearing away brambles, testing the depth of mud or water, and even in being a support when taking pictures.

In the Brecon Beacons it recently came in very useful in testing the depth of snowdrifts!

Super (duper) Trackstick

Super Trackstick After several days walking and having covered a hundred miles or so, I get back home, look at the map and the photos I have taken, and wonder where on earth have I been exactly?

Well now my wondering is over, by taking a Super Trackstick with me I have a GPS log of where and when I have been (and where I have mistakenly gone off route got lost). It is not perfect but it allows me to review the route, work out how far I have gone (in what time), and where I stopped. Knowing the location of each stop is particularly useful to work out where photos were taken (though I am sure GPS in compact cameras will become standard one day).

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Kendal Mint Cake

kendalmintcakebox.jpg No preparation would be complete without ensuring the emergency rations have been packed. In my case this always includes Kendal Mint Cake.

While not a traditional ‘cake’ this post could be equally at home in the A nice cup of tea and… series, though I feel further testing is required before I put a seal on the best Kendal Mint Cake and perhaps had a chance to visit the various establishments in Kendal (there are currently three companies that produce mint cake).

Kendal Mint Cake is the best combination of sugar, water and peppermint oil to be found, and can only be bettered when the chocolate coated variety is at hand mouth. Due to its high energy content it makes for a very good emergency ration.

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The best socks in the world, probably

smartwoolsocks.jpg I have no affiliation to the makers of these socks, but I am willing to stand up and say they are probably the best socks in the world.

In the past I have tried all sorts: thick socks, two pairs of socks, cushioned sock, but at some point I have always got bad blisters and very sore feet. In the summer they would be very sore and hot, in the winter very sore and cold.

SmartWool socks may look like an ordinary pair of socks from the outside, but it is the inside that counts. Made from the softest Merino sheep wool, the inside is deeply piled – like the most luxuriant deep pile carpet. The fibres wick away moisture, create thousands of little air pockets that regulate the temperature of your feet, and – best of all – resist bacteria! So far I have yet to get any serious blisters from any of the hundreds of miles I have walked while wearing them.

They are so soft and comfortable to wear that I have found a fresh pair are the best way to relax and relieve all foot tension after a long day of walking.

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