Check out my 2015 walk

Essential And Not So Essential

Here's a list of all the equipment I carried, and books and maps I used:


I used Ordnance Survey Landranger maps. I only carried five or six for local area, buying new ones and sending home old ones as I went along. They took up valuable space in my backpack, and weighed enough to notice. The OS Explorer maps are much more detailed, but you need at least twice as many. For me, the Landranger series was the best compromise. Here are the numbers of the maps I used, which cover my whole walk:

11 12 17 21 26 27 35 36 43 52 58 65 66 72 73 74 80 86 91 98 103 109 110 119 127 128 138 150 162 172 180 181 182 190 191 192 193 200 201 203 204

41 maps. At 6.49 each, it's a lot of money for them all, but great to be able to look back at my route.

I also took a road atlas of the U.K. It was extra weight, but I wanted to see the big picture now and again. In hindsight, I could have left this at home.


If you're thinking of doing the end to end, get Andrew McLoy's "The Land's End to John O'Groats Walk". This really is the best book you can get. It lists alternative routes, daily sections, other books and publications, and gives an excellent account of what it's actually like to do the trip. This book was with me every step of the way.

I also recommend Phil Horsley's "Land's End to John O'Groats, the Great British Bike Adventure". It's a cyclist's book, so the routes aren't much help unless you want to walk on roads, but it's a very entertaining read, and full of useful tips and information.

Thirty Five Pounds

That's what my backpack weighed. I read that your pack should not exceed 25% of your body weight, unless you are very experienced and fit. Here's what I had with me:

  • A baseball cap. In hindsight, a floppy hat would have saved my ears from sunburn.
  • Ken's "Carrymore" backpack. 65 litre capacity.
  • Compass. Don't leave home without one! Even walking on roads and lanes, a compass is indispensable, let alone in remote areas like the Pennine Way.
  • Wet weather trousers and jacket. The lightest and most compact I could find. I used the jacket lots as I only had T shirts.
  • One man tent - very light and compact. I was really pleased with this tent, it was just big enough for one.
  • Sleeping bag - again, the lightest and most compact I could get. As I was walking in May and June, it was warm enough.
  • Bedroll - the foam roll-up kind.
  • Clothes. The bare minimum. Two pairs of walking trousers, the type which zip at the knee and convert to shorts. Socks - six assorted pairs including "walking" socks. Pants - only five pairs, much to my daughter's disgust. Five T shirts. One handkerchief.
  • Boots - Berghaus Explorer - man made Gore-Tex type. A very subjective subject, boots. Leather? Gore-Tex? I took the advice of the staff in Blacks, as I didn't have a clue. The boots they sold me lasted every step of my walk. Having now spoken to many walkers, I feel leather boots are probably a little easier on your feet when it's hot, but they need more breaking in.
  • My camera - a Nikon F80, with Nikkor 28 - 105 mm AF D lens, along with nine rolls of Fuji Velvia film. Everyone asked me why I didn't use digital. Well, I just like my camera. It was my one luxury item. (I even had my mini tripod and cable release). And it was easier shooting film. Fuji provide a pre-paid envelope, pre-printed stickers, so every time I finished a film, I put it in the envelope, posted it when I passed a post box, and it would be waiting safely at home upon my return. I didn't want to mess about with memory cards, batteries, and so on.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and a disposable razor. I quickly discovered that I needed some soap, and a towel!
  • Minimal first aid kit. Blister plasters, ordinary plasters, Germoline, Vaseline. It's surprising where you chafe when walking long distances - don't forget the Vaseline!
  • Food. How much I carried depended on where I was. I tried to get my meals on route, to save weight. I didn't carry a stove, and was always jealous when I saw fellow campers cooking up delicious meals. Usually, I would carry some digestive biscuits, cheese, chocolate, an apple or two, and maybe some nuts and raisins. Luxury...
  • Water. I carried a one and a half litre bottle in my pack, and a half litre bottle attached to the strap on my backpack, where I could get to it. If it's hot, water - or lack of it - can become one of the biggest issues in remote places. I found two litres was enough for me. I never had to resort to drinking from streams or springs.
  • A notebook. If you do a long walk, keep a diary. It's a pain at the time, but you won't regret it.
  • Mobile phone and spare batteries. Well, it is the twenty first century. And I suppose if I broke my leg in a remote area... I wouldn't get a bloody signal! Actually, it was great to get calls and texts from friends and family, and I suppose this is a must have for most people.
  • A "walkman" style radio - essential when trying to nod off in a campsite full of noisy youngsters.
  • Torch, and a led flashing red light - the sort cyclists use. The flashing light was in case I got stuck walking along a road at night. I never used it. I tried to take only electrical stuff that used AAA batteries, making spares easier to carry. A whistle is often recommended safety gear. I never took one. I forgot.
  • Money. You can't have enough. Cash machines are few and far between in some areas, and not all places take cheques or plastic. Keep yourself well wedged up. If you're worried about carrying cash, keep it to a minimum. It's up to you. I usually carried small change and a note or two in an accessible pocket, for use in pubs and shops. I kept my wallet in a safe, zipped up pocket out of sight.
  • Wet-wipes. Bernie very kindly gave me a pack "just in case." They went the whole 1050 ish miles - I never used them (honest Bernie)!