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Take Miles off Your Feet

I did some quick calculations recently and it turns out that I walk more than 1,000 miles every year. Lucky me! Great for mind, body and soul and I love every minute of it. But it also got me thinking…these feet of mine are really being put through their paces (literally!). So I thought I’d share with you my personal tried and tested ways to look after your feet and ensure that they will carry you for many more miles into the future. May I present, The iFootpath Girl’s guide to footcare for walkers…



Summer TrainersBoots are an essential piece of kit to keep your feet safe while walking. (Actually, there is a school of thought that says barefoot walking is better for your body, as it reduces heel strike and the force this puts through your joints. I’ll write a blog post on that some other time but, for now, let’s assume that the risks of barefoot walking in unknown areas is too great and return to the idea of boots). Don’t presume that you need expensive walking boots to do the job. You need the walking boots that are right for you. Waterproof is ideal, plus supportive and protective round the ankle and – most importantly – well-fitting and comfortable.

And to go inside those boots you will need walking socks. I find the padded types give better protection from rubbing and blisters. Wool is the most tried and tested material but I’m actually allergic to wool and find cotton and synthetic blends do the job just as well. Bamboo is a great natural material, but I’m afraid it is not very hard wearing so don’t be surprised if bamboo socks begin to dissolve after 50 miles or so!

Blisters and rubs can ruin an otherwise beautiful walk…I talk from personal experience. I (stupidly!) did a 9 mile walk in the rugged North York Moors in brand new knee-high winter leather boots and paid the price. For the next two days I was laid up in the holiday cottage, while the holes in the backs of my heels began to heal. Never one to sulk, I used the time to do some blog writing but I would have much rather been out exploring with Richard and Bobbie. So the lesson here is that wearing your boots in slowly is a must, and there are also some really useful blister plasters out there that can be a god-send (before or after the event!).


I find it’s always best to listen to your body and trust its signals. When your feet tell you it’s time for a rest, it’s probably time for a rest. And after a long day of rambling it is always nice to give your feet a bit of a treat. The simplest treat for your feet is just to elevate them. Remove your shoes and socks to let the air at them and then raise them by laying out on the sofa or using a footstool. Any slight throbbing and swelling should quickly subside. If you fancy an extra pamper, try giving your feet a soak in some warm water with a dash of muscle-soak salts or aromatherapy oils. My favourite mix is tea tree oil (for its anti-bacterial properties) plus lavender and chamomile (for their calming and healing properties).


feetsandalsIf you rely on your feet to take you long distance, then it’s worth putting in some effort to help with their resilience. Preventing the build-up of hard skin is a proper mission for me. I’ve seen other people that have let hard skin get out of hand, leading to deep cracks and infection, and I don’t ever want that to be me. I’ve tried pumice, chemicals and foot files over the years, but these days I swear by the battery-operated files with a spinning coarse roller. Hard skin is gone in an instant.

And once all the hard skin is gone, I love to treat my feet with a layer of footcream. There are footcreams (in both the luxury and budget categories) that give you an instant feeling of comfort but some can also help your feet in the long term. The best creams can help prevent the build-up of hard skin, can give resistance to infections and odour (with ingredients like lavender and tea tree oil) and can also help with the condition of your nails. If you want to give a more intense treatment, apply a thicker layer at night and then slip on some cotton socks and let this combination work its magic while you sleep.

Finally, I also like to try to vary my everyday habits to keep my feet in tip-top condition. At home I never wear slippers, instead I use orthotic-style sandals that give good arch support and help to promote great foot posture. I also try not to wear the same shoes every day. By varying shoe styles and heel heights, I like to think that my feet get a good work out without ever getting strained in any one place.

Here are a few of my favourite foot treats in case you’d like to give them a try…

Foot Treats

Treat yourself to:            

So, that’s it folks, the iFootpath Girl’s guide to footcare for walkers. I hope this is helpful but, of course, please use common sense and always seek medical advice if you have any particular concern or if you suffer from a long-term medical condition.

26 October 2016

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The length of our walking guides is given in miles and rounded to the nearest full mile (whole number) for simplicity. For short walks (of less than 2 miles) or walks that have a length that ends in .5, a more accurate walk length may be given in the first section of the walk introduction. For example, the Length in the header may be listed as 6 miles, and the introduction may confirm that the exact length of the walk is 5.5 miles. The walk length is calculated from the GPS file that was created by the walk author GPS tracking the walk whilst walking, using the iFootpath App GPS Tracker, meaning it is very accurate. Our bespoke tracker is particularly detailed and plots a walkers position about every 10 seconds. The tracker is calibrated to match two other reputable map and walking sources, Ordnance Survey and Nike. As with all standardised walk and map lengths, the distance does not take account of hills and slopes, just the distance you would measure using a piece of string on a flat map version of the terrain, so hilly walks will feel longer than stated. If you track the route using another GPS App or Tracker App or Fitness Device, you can expect the distance you record to be different due to different calibrations. This is particularly true of those Apps and devices that count your motion and steps – these can only guess the distance you have travelled with each step and so are much less accurate.

Grade (Boots)

The grade of a walk is an indicator of how difficult the terrain is that you will encounter along the way. This does not take into account the walk length but does suggest how challenging the walk will be. It takes into account things like hills, path surfaces and obstacles (like stiles, gates, steps and rock scrambles). An easy walk, graded as 1 (and shown as 1 Boot) indicates a walk that is essentially flat, has no sharp hills to climb, has no stiles, is easy to navigate (probably along a well-worn path) and is suitable for most levels of fitness. A difficult walk, graded as 5 (and represented by 5 Boots) indicates a walk that is strenuous and involves steep ascents and/or descents. It may be technically challenging involving difficult terrain or obstacles that require scrambling with your hands. Please note that the grading for walks is subjective and open to interpretation and should only be used as a guide when selecting a walk.

NOTE: Do be aware that the level of stamina required for any walk will vary depending on both the walk length and the difficulty grade - you should only walk within your limits.

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