Adventurer Nigel Vardy on preparing for (and enjoying) a 30km hike

12 Aug 2020

Nigel Vardy (AKA Mr Frostbite) is a record-breaking mountaineer, author and speaker, and is a regular guest presenter at DofE Gold Award Presentations.

Here, Nigel provides a few tips on what to carry in your rucksack and how to enjoy the challenge of the Virtual DofE Adventure whilst following the relevant Government guidance and local policies for the area you’re visiting.

1. Food & drink
You don’t walk well on an empty stomach! Pack simple and effective snacks and nibbles. I find breaks are good, but I also graze along the way to keep my energy levels high – a bag of mixed fruits and nuts always works for me.

Make sure you stay hydrated and take plenty of water – a drinks break always forces me to stop and allow a moment to take in the scenery. Another option would be to plan a café into your walk and enjoy a well-earned break whilst supporting the local economy.

2. Protection
The British climate can throw all kinds of weather at you, so be prepared for rain or sun – the weather you start in may not be the weather you finish in! A lightweight but waterproof coat is always a must and lightweight, windproof mid-layers are useful.

For the sun, a hat and cream are essential; far too many people end their day with burned necks and arms. Make sure that whatever is in your rucksack is in waterproof bags!

3. Footwear
This is always a contentious subject as there are so many differing styles on the market today. Whatever your preference, as long as it’s suitable for the environment you’re walking in, comfort is king. Sock choice is also vital to prevent overheating and blisters. I often dip my feet in a stream when I’m having a break to cool them down.

4. Fitness
Depending on how you wish to complete your 30km, some training might be necessary. I’m a regular walker and used to cover over 50km a day (I was much younger too!). This isn’t a route march, so get fit, enjoy the challenge and smile all the way around.

5. Route choice
Over the past few months, have you found new paths close to your home? Could you cover new ground and keep exploring your local area to complete your challenge? You could try going somewhere where the paths are less trodden and social distancing is easier to achieve. We walk at around 4km/hour so you could split the challenge over a few days to fit your timescales.

6. Skills
Are you a competent navigator? Maps are only useful if you know how to read them. Compasses are only useful if you know how to use them. Is this an opportunity for you to learn a new skill?

7. Kit
Some people like walking poles, some like the latest gadgets. Only use what’s good for you and has a use. I always carry a first aid kit, extra clothing and even a head torch (you never know!).

8. Companions
Though I like walking alone, walking with friends and family is a wonderful way to spend a day. Please maintain social distancing and follow Government guidelines, but share your experience with people you love.

9. Care
Care for yourselves, your friends, the people you meet and the countryside around you.

10.Smile
COVID-19 has wiped the smiles from many people’s faces. It’s about time we put them back again. Say hello to everyone you meet and enjoy the day.

11. Share
Share your experiences, show the world what a wonderful day you had and don’t stop walking.

Read our article on 5 ways to respect the Countryside Code.

Supporting young people every step of the way

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