We know you love walking and everyone loves a holiday. But have you ever considered putting the two things together and taking a dedicated rambling break? Our friends at Headwater offer a huge choice of walking holidays, either guided or self-guided. Travel across France, Italy and Spain, discover central Europe, explore the Med, and visit Latin America and the Caribbean too. Headwater has kindly provided this guest blog to help you get prepared…
You’re looking forward to your Headwater walking holiday; a well-earned break rambling through beautiful countryside, exploring local villages, or drinking in the mountain views. But soon it will be time to pack. To make sure you have everything you need, here’s leading blogger Heather Cowper’s recommended checklist…
1. Comfortable walking boots
Comfortable walking boots are the foundation of an enjoyable walking holiday. Your feet and legs have to take the strain and the right boots will reduce the chance of sore feet, so that you can enjoy a blister-free trip. I recommend choosing walking boots with good ankle support, to cope with slippery or uneven paths. On some less arduous routes you may prefer lower cut boots or trail shoes (a cross between trainers and boots) especially if your feet get hot in summer.
Look for boots that are solid but lightweight and have a waterproof but breathable membrane like Gore-Tex to keep your feet dry. If you’re buying new boots, try on many different pairs before you make a decision and then wear them in as much as you can before the holiday, to avoid blisters. Take socks that are designed for hiking, which normally have a more cushioned sole for extra comfort.
2. A waterproof jacket
Even if you’re walking in Europe in the summer you’ll need a waterproof jacket to cover you for the occasional shower or cooler early morning starts. Look for a jacket that will pack up small to keep in your rucksack, but is substantial enough to keep off the morning and evening chill. To avoid sweaty moments, a jacket made from waterproof but breathable membrane is ideal, with zips for under-arm ventilation and plenty of pockets to keep small items safe. If you’re planning your walking holiday in the spring or autumn, it’s worth spending a bit extra to get the right jacket, especially if you can use it for everyday wear when you get home.
3. Quick-dry trousers or shorts
Jeans and heavy cotton trousers are fine for relaxing at your hotel but not ideal for your day’s walking where they will quickly get soggy if it rains. Better to pack at least one pair of walking trousers made of a quick-drying, lightweight fabric. You can also find shorts made of the same material or choose walking trousers with zips on the legs to convert them into shorts. Trousers or shorts with plenty of pockets are useful for keeping maps and your phone safely to hand. As an alternative to walking trousers you could use tracksuit bottoms or sports shorts made of lightweight, quick-drying fabric.
4. Walking t-shirts
Take a selection of lightweight t-shirts without any details that are likely to become uncomfortable with your rucksack. Vest tops are cool when walking and great for getting a tan, but consider alternating with sleeved t-shirts to avoid the discomfort of sunburned shoulders. T-shirts made from technical fabric or specially treated merino wool and are designed for walking or sports are ideal, as they’ll wick away sweat and keep you cool.
5. Pack a fleece for warmth
Even in summer, there can be chilly moments in the morning and evening or when you’re walking in the mountains. A mid-weight fleece is ideal for layering with your t-shirt and waterproof and can be rolled up small to go in your rucksack when not in use.
6. A hat or bandana
A sunhat is essential in summer as the sun can be quite hot, especially in the mountains where you burn more easily at high altitude. You do not want to risk sunstroke, which would spoil your holiday! If you’re walking in spring or autumn, a warmer hat and lightweight gloves are optional, especially at higher altitudes where the weather can change quickly. You may like to pack a square cotton bandana to keep hair off your face, protect your neck from sunburn or to wipe sweat away.
7. Day sack
Since most Headwater walking holidays involve day walks from your hotel or your luggage transported for you, it’s likely that you’ll only require a small rucksack to carry just what you need that day. A 20-30 litre day sack is about the right size and should ideally have plenty of zipped compartments, mesh pockets on the sides to keep water bottles in and loops to secure walking poles or extra equipment. Take some plastic bags that you can pack clothes or maps into to keep everything dry, in case of wet weather.
8. Walking poles
If the routes you are walking are flat and gentle, these may not be required, but for anything more arduous or involving steep climbs, we recommend walking poles. On mountainous walks a pair of walking poles is essential to take the strain off knees and legs and support you on uneven, slippery or steep paths. Look out for poles that are telescopic or fold out into sections that will be easy to pack in your luggage and tuck in the sides of your rucksack when not in use.
9. A personal medical kit
While everyone may have their own health needs, it’s useful to have a small medical kit in your rucksack containing general items that will alleviate minor health issues when the nearest pharmacy may be some distance. As an example, you may like to pack plasters in case of blisters, painkillers for headaches and strained muscles, diarrhoea treatment and wet wipes. If your walk takes you into a mountainous area and you have suffered in the past from altitude sickness, it might be worth asking your doctor about prescribing medication for this. Of course, you may also have personal medication that you need to keep with you when out for your day’s walking.
10. A refillable water bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re walking and, of course, one of the pleasures of a Headwater holiday is to stop at a local café, bar or winery to take refreshment and admire the views! However, there will be times when you may be walking in rural areas so you’ll need to keep a good supply of water with you. To avoid waste you may like to bring a refillable water bottle – either a hard metal or plastic one – or a clear, flexible plastic bottle that can be packed flat when empty.
Having the right equipment will help your walking to be relaxed and trouble free. Enjoy your holiday!
About the Author
Heather Cowper of Heatheronhertravels.com is a leading UK travel blogger who specialises in walking, hiking and cycling. Having hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc she loves the high passes of the Alps and Dolomites but also enjoys gentler walking through the beautiful countryside of France, Spain, Austria and the UK, especially when it can be combined with tasting the local wine and food.
13 September 2016
Karen K February 2019
I've used this App for several years now & love it. Love the way you constantly up date & add to it & love the blogs. Best walking/hiking App ever.
Newsletter Feedback January 2019
I absolutely love this app. I love all the feedback and it has literally changed my life. Thank you !!!!
Apple App Store Review (Canada) 2018
I used it for two weeks when I was on holiday on the UK and I found it reliable and accurate. The descriptions of landmarks was spot on. I enjoyed the walks all the more because there was no worry about getting lost. The historical notes and various “insider knowledge” enhanced my appreciation of the beautiful landscapes. Highly recommended, worth every penny. I just wish I had something like this where I live in Canada.
Google Play 2018
Best walking app I've used, the routes have always been better than expected. Not only are they picturesque, they are also easy to follow.
Google Play 2018
Loving this app. Initially had a few glitches but these all went away after a bit of tweaking the settings. I have used the app for 6 walks so far and have discovered lovely local walks that I would have never known about. The walk descriptions and directions have been really accurate. The live map has been helpful in checking that I haven't gone off course.
Newsletter Feedback 2018
Just completed my first walk using the @ifootpathuk app on my phone. A nice walk and we didn't get lost (as I have no sense of direction whatsoever that is high praise!) #hiking #Snowdonia #walking #adventure
Twitter Feedback 2018
Google Play Review 2018
Super fast help to sort out my problem. Well done and nice friendly reply as well.
Help Centre August 2018
Super fast help to sort out my problem. Well done and nice friendly reply as well.
iOS Appstore November 2017
Great App - never get lost! by The Parallax View Best couple of quid I’ve spent in a long time. Walks are well described & it’s easy to see if you’ve wandered off the mapped tracks via GPS. Degree of difficulty is useful too - can choose a 2 Welly, 5 mile walk with a pub at the end for a relaxing Sunday.
Email November 2017
Wow what a lovely experience it was using your app worked perfectly from the off for the first time found walks nearby we would have never found, brilliant work guys and gals.
This is a great app. Easy to use. Great selection of walks and very uncomplicated instructions, good simple maps. Other walking apps I have tried can be very confusing, this one is just right. Thank you
I used the app for the first time this afternoon. I lead regular ‘Walking for Health’. The app is terrific!
I do a lot of solo walking...so always worry about safety and getting lost.....not anymore I don't...!!!!! The guides are always spot on....and that's what I do.just follow the blue spot...!!! Thank you.... It's my favourite app...!!!!
My wife and I did your Petworth and Shimmings Valley walk yesterday. It was absolutely beautiful and enhanced by the wonderful weather. Your instructions were the clearest I have ever used for walking.
Without doubt the best app that I have ever downloaded! - NT
This App is brilliant. It enables you to track your walks and download them for future reference. The Library provides you with a variety of walks and are supported by clear instructions and photographs along the route. This makes them very easy to follow. I have used the App for about two years and have found it invaluable. Should you have any queries about any aspect of iFootpath the support you get is second to none.
Absolutely beautiful walk, and a wonderful app. Thank you so much :)
I want to congratulate you on your web site/app performance, quick, reliable and easy to use. I have similar walking apps with OS Maps and ViewRanger but yours is best.
This app has totally changed my life, i absolutely love it. I did this walk yesterday, what a beautiful walk it is, i thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely do it again, in fact i met an older gentleman who was on his 100 and something time there!! My sister and daughter cant wait to come along. The noise mentioned about the motorway is negligible and for me did not detract from the overall walk at all, the view from the top was stunning!!
So far I have downloaded 5 walks and completed 3 of them, tomorrow will be No 4. I love your website The walk descriptions are the best I have used in the last six years of rambling since I retired. This is a website I would be more than happy to pay a subscription for, instead I'll donate a sum to my favourite charity. THANK YOU.
Have deleted Pokemon Go and downloaded @ifootpathuk which is much more 'me'
I love the illustrated descriptions of each walk section. Really helps to enjoy the walk and get to know something about what I'm seeing. So much better than apps that only provide GPS co-ordinates and no photos or description. Love it!
After trying out numerous other apps I came across this one: way ahead of any of the others in every way. Much more accurate and very easy to use with great features. Would highly recommend it as THE app to use for walking.
Just wonderful, with walks for everyone: the fit, the not-so-fit, short walks, long walks, through woods, up hills (and down).
I highly recommend it, as my mum and I use it to go for walks and finish by eating at a pub. Its detailed and sometimes humorous instructions lead us easily to our destination. Also, to top this, it has interesting facts about the area we're walking in
I don't review much but this app deserves it. Downloaded some really good walks and the combination of the good descriptions and the really useful map of the walk showing where you are make it a brilliant tool. Well done and keep up the good work.
Very enjoyable and well described route. Views over the river from the warren were stunning.
Fantastic walk and amazing views. Great directions though I followed the GPS map mainly
Great walk, instructions were very detailed, perfect!
This may be the best walk I've ever done. It was certainly the best directions.
Even on a cold windy day with it trying to snow this was still an excellent walk. We managed it with our 2 children of 5 yrs and one in a all terain pram (a defo no no with a normal pram). Will be doing this one again in the summer.
Used app while visiting (it was great!)--live in Texas. Thanks!
Your app and walks are a dream to use
Did this walk this morning with our three little girls and we all love it. Great day outdoor!