Women Afoot With Lindsey Chadwick: Hiking Britain’s National Trails
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NB. All photographs are © Lindsey Chadwick (All Rights Reserved) and may not be used without permission
Go Back: Part 1: Meet Lindsey Chadwick
Lindsey’s Top Tips And Inspiration
Tips For Beginners
Plan a hike on the South Downs Way – find out everything you need to know!
- Avoid getting lost. Download the OS Maps app. “For a small annual fee you get access to every map Ordnance Survey produces. You can plot and track your own routes, take compass bearings and get coordinates. More importantly, it has GPS tracking which doesn’t require a mobile signal. It gives you so much confidence about where you are and where you’re going.”
- Have a contingency plan. “Always let someone know where you’re going, the route you’re planning and when you expect to be back. Not only will this help keep you safe, it’ll give you peace of mind out on the trail.”
- Build up gradually. “The hills will always be there so you can take time to build up your confidence. My first few solo walks were all day hikes in the south east, in areas I knew relatively well and over relatively short distances. Ditto, my first wild camp was only a short walk from where I’d parked the car so I knew I could always escape to safety if required.”
How To Beat Trail Boredom
“Even the best long distance hikes will have some dull sections. These can be really tough when you’re all alone and realise you’re not half as good company as you might have thought,
I absolutely swear by Audible, the speaking book app.
“I find hearing another voice far better for battling loneliness than music; and there’s nothing like a really gripping story to make the miles disappear. I used to struggle to find time to read at home but now get through 3 – 4 books a month.”
- “When I was growing up, I was hugely inspired by Ffyona Campbell, the first woman to walk (almost!) around the world*. The idea that all you had to do was put on pair of shoes and the world could be yours was a complete revelation to me.
- “As a young adult, I was deeply affected by Jane Tomlinson’s story. Diagnosed with cancer aged 35, she was given weeks to live and sent home to die. Instead she spent the next 6 years undertaking a series of remarkable physical and sporting achievements, raising £1.85m for charity in the process. Never, ever give up.
- “We still often think of hiking as a young man’s game, but back in 1955, Emma Gatewood became the first woman ever to solo hike the Appalachian Trail, all 2190 miles of it! She was 67. You are never too old.
“*A footnote on Ffyona Campbell as the “first woman to walk around the world”: In 1996, two years after she completed the Challenge, Campbell admitted to accepting a lift over a short section of the American part of the trek as she had fallen pregnant. Although she subsequently went back to complete the missing miles, she nonetheless asked the Guinness Book of Records to remove her name as she felt she’d “cheated”. They refused her request.”
Groups For Walkers
“I’ve always walked solo. Initially, there wasn’t much choice. Most of my friends and family aren’t the outdoorsy type so it was either go alone or don’t go at all; but I quickly realised how much I enjoyed the time alone. If anything, learning to walk with others has been more of a “challenge”. I’d always shied away from group walks – would I keep up? would I like the other walkers? would they like me? – but having done a couple now, I’ve really enjoyed them. It’s a very different experience and having the company certainly makes the miles go quickly!”
Here are some of Lindsey’s recommendations if you’re looking for groups to walk with:
- The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) “A group dedicated to the big milers. It’s worth the membership fee alone for its database of long distance paths. It also operates a number of League Tables (including the National Trails Register) to help keep you motivated.” And if you want to walk with others there are local walking groups and big challenge walks too.
- Adventure Queens “Social media groups by women, for women. A great place to get hints, tips and inspiration”. Follow the link to AQs website for links to their social media and local groups, including regular events all over the UK.
- Hikes of Surrey “If you’re based in south east England, I can’t recommend this guided walking group enough. Mike is funny, informative and hugely passionate about his adopted county. Walks are suitable for all abilities and always include a pub lunch.”
- “For a long time, I wanted to have a “Big Adventure®” but for one reason or another it never happened. Life kept getting in the way. So when Alastair Humphreys came along with his Micro-Adventures book and said it’s ok, sleeping in a field can be an adventure too, it made me realise adventure is everywhere. You just have to get outside to find it.”
- Shane O’Mara, In Praise of Walking: “Every reason you’ve ever needed to get off the couch and outdoors in one short little book.”
- 14 Peaks*: “The most extraordinary documentary I’ve watched in years, it’s the story of Sherpa Nimsdai Purja’s attempt to climb all 14 of the world’s highest peaks in one season. The mountaineering is remarkable, but the man all the more so. His passion, humour and humility are a true inspiration.”
(* This links to his website where you can find links to the film on Netflix as well as to his book Beyond Possible and more.)
Great tips aren’t they, well worth coming back to again and again, so why not bookmark the article so you can easily dip in? You can follow Lindsey online too.
Connect With Lindsey Chadwick
Lindsey’s a fantastic photographer (as you no doubt noticed!) and if you’re looking for trail inspiration you’ll find it in spades on her IG account:
Lindsey Chadwick on Instagram: @onthenationaltrail
A huge thanks to Lindsey for taking the time to share her hiking story. I hoped you’ve found it really inspiring and excited to plan your next adventure!
Before You Go
If you’ve enjoyed reading this I’d love you to help me keep building the Women Afoot series into a library, the place to come for inspiration, tips and great reads from women hikers around the UK. You can show your support and buy me a coffee over on Ko-fi. I spend a lot of time writing and for just £3 you can keep me fuelled for a good few hours at the laptop! Another big way to help out is to spread the word: share the article with your friends – links are below.
Thanks so much, and until next time,
Wondering What To Read Next?
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