Happy hikers unite: the best hiking gear and trails in the UK
Gone are the days when walking boots and OS maps were reserved for nerdy ramblers and retired folk. The past year of lockdown frustration and grounded aeroplanes has got many of us feeling the draw to explore.
Happy hikers and the backpack brigade continue popping up in fashion campaigns galore.
THE NORTH FACE x GUCCI collaboration had us weak at the knees for a mountain adventure.
NIKE ACG (stands for All Conditions Gear, who knew?!) recently posted a series of nature-inspired videos ‘The ACG Guide to Peace on Earth’ encouraging viewers to experience nature everyday, respect your mother and forget your phone.
Celia Pool, DAME co-founder, is a walking obsessive. “Walking is my therapy. I find it calming and energising at the same time. I’m always on the hunt for a day hike and next weekend I’m going to The Chilterns with a few friends to chat while we explore. I never thought I’d be the person to say, I love my walking boots. But here I am. In love.”
Alex Middleton, co-founder of British walking guide company Vespucci Adventures, is a firm believer that spending more time in nature is not only good for mental and physical wellbeing but is the perfect antidote for burn-out.
“Walking and rambling has a slightly aged feel to it,” says Middleton. “But our signature walks are created in a contemporary way to inspire people to explore further afield. We’ve tried to make them easier to follow, to break down barriers that some people face. To some people, getting on a train to somewhere they’ve never been before and stepping out and just trusting an OS map, is a step too far.”
Named after cartographer Amerigo Vespucci, the company offers 11 free downloadable ‘Quick Escapes’ from London, 17 self-guided, beautifully designed ‘Signature Walks’ (£15) as well as Vespucci merch.
Each ‘Signature Walk Essential Pack’ contains a map and guidebook for a pre-planned hiking adventure. The map has navigation points as well as a supporting digital route that runs through the OS app giving peace of mind and showing walkers where they are, or where they aren’t. The guidebook contains everything needed to make this day happen: a kit list, how to get there, points of interest along the way, a bit of history (but not too much) to connect to the area, and “perhaps most importantly,” says Middleton, “the best pub to visit en route.”
Sustainability is at the heart of Vespucci. “Our messaging centres around looking after nature, protecting the trails, leaving no trace. Walking, if done right, is one of the most sustainable activities there is,” he says. All map packs are printed in the UK by a carbon neutral press on 100% recycled paper.
DAMEs, it’s time to gather your girlfriends, switch off your phones and reconnect with mother nature.
SUSTAINABLE HIKING GEAR (BUT MAKE IT FASHION)
A nerdy note just to say, the most sustainable hiking gear is the stuff you already own. But if you do want / need to invest in something new, we recommend these sustainable options:
WALK THIS WAY Team DAME’s top 10 walks in the UK
1. Anywhere along the South Devon Coastal Path
2. Offa's Dyke, the trail that follows the ancient border of Wales and England
3. Lulworth Cove to Kimmeridge on the Jurassic Coast
4. South London Green Chain Walk
5. The Central Mourne Mountains
6. Lower Falls to Steall Waterfall, next to Ben Nevis
7. Cornwall Roseland Penninsula, specifically from Portscatho to Pendower
8. Pembrokeshire Coastal Walk
9. Loch Insh near Kincraig in the Caingorms
10. The Llyn Peninsula in north Wales