Buying gear?

We appreciate that good gear is expensive and we don’t want you to have to splash out – especially if you’re coming walking for the first time and are not sure if this is a one-off holiday or will become a passion! Try borrowing gear if you can.


The higher you go – the warmer the gear needed!

Sometimes women think, “But it’s August, surely I don’t need ‘gloves and a warm hat’ as well as a sun hat!!” However, weather in the mountains can change fast, and the wind can chill, so it’s essential to carry enough warm gear even if the day starts sunny. So please don’t ignore what we ask you to bring!


Coming on a trek?

Please restrict your luggage to 1 pack/bag/suitcase & your walking pack. Someone will be carrying your gear from the B&B or hostel to a vehicle most days – and you will be carrying it upstairs! You won’t need a lot of gear on a trek, and hostels have good drying rooms…


Essential items

  • Walking boots – leather or waterproof fabric, broken in and comfortable, with ankle support & sufficient tread left for good grip (see notes below if you are buying a pair). Please note, ‘walking shoes’ or trainers are not appropriate for most places we walk which will be rocky and uneven underfoot.
  • 2 or 3 pairs of walking socks. Wearing a coolmax sock underneath a thicker sock helps avoid blisters, and if you blister easily, you may find that 2 coolmax together in summer (without a thicker sock) help keep your feet cooler and so prevents blisters. Tape on the heels is also a useful preventative measure (see below).
  • Waterproof jacket – should be waterproof, and ideally ‘breathable’ – especially on intermediate & high level holidays.
  • Waterproof trousers – if you can’t get them locally, you can buy them inexpensively at any outdoor shops in a walking area.
  • Extra fleece or sweater – to put on during a stop or if it’s windy.
  • Trousers &/or shorts – loose enough not to restrict your movement (Jeans are not advisable – too heavy if they get wet).
  • Walking tops – cotton is not advisable as it holds the moisture if you’re sweaty so that you get cold during a stop. Synthetic tops or merino wool have wicking properties – taking the moisture away from your body.
  • Gloves & hat – needed in the hills even in summer & especially on intermediate or high level holidays.
  • Day pack – to carry spare fleece, waterproofs, packed lunch, water bottle and other bits and pieces. If you’re buying one for this trip, look for one with a padded belt so that you carry some of the weight on your hips (more comfortable). Also, if you think that you’d like to use walking poles, look for a pack with straps to carry the pole/s when not in use.
  • Water flask – or strong plastic water bottle – minimum 1 litre, or 1.5 litres if it’s an intermediate or high level holiday. A Platypus (or similar) water system is very handy as it allows you to drink without taking your rucksack off.
  • Sun screen, lipsalve.
  • Large thick plastic bag and /or rucksack rain cover- to keep the contents of your rucksack dry if it rains.
  • Sun hat – in summer
  • Towel if your holiday is in a hostel or for swimming holidays – you can buy light-weight camping towels from outdoor shops.

Non-essential, but nice!

  • Walking poles – not essential but many women use them to help with balance and to save wear to their knees. 2 poles are best if you have troublesome joints – you can then reduce up to a third of the strain on your knees when coming downhill.
  • Gaiters – not expensive, and they do keep your boots drier, and stop rain running from waterproof trousers into your boots (worn under the waterproofs). Probably more important on intermediate or high level holidays where you’re out for longer and the ground is potentially more boggy.
  • Vacuum Flask for hot drinks, particularly good for cold and wet weather walking
  • Cash – the amount depends on whether the holiday is full board or part board. Most places we stay will take credit cards; however, there are no ATM machines in Borrowdale, Great Langdale, Buttermere, or Patterdale.
  • National Trust (or English Heritage) Membership Card – we sometimes visit NT properties and sometimes park in NT car parks, which are free to members.
  • Swimming costume – if appropriate to the holiday and time of year! Maybe a Wetsuit – for wild swimming holidays (not essential and will need carrying whilst on the walk!)


Slippers – such bliss in the evening! Camera, spare film & spare battery, or spare memory card; binoculars; a mat to sit on during a drink stop. Torch and spare battery can be useful for walking home from the pub, or to avoid disturbing others on youth hostel holidays. Games or cards for the evening? Spare table tennis ball if you’re a keen player staying at Glenthorne Guest House!


Some advice if buying boots

  • A walking boot should be up to a size bigger than your normal shoe size to prevent you damaging your toes when walking down hill.  You can always wear another sock if your boot is too big, but you can’t solve the problem the other way round! You should not be able to feel your toes touching the end if you’re standing on a downhill slope with your boots done up well.
  • Go for the make and model of boots that feels most comfortable, rather than necessarily the one that comes most highly recommended – even if it means foregoing a gortex lining, or some other feature. If they feel uncomfortable when you put them on, they will get worse when you walk. Most good shops will allow you to return boots if you’ve only tried them out around the house.
  • Feet can be wide in different places and a ‘wide boot’ may not be comfortable for every wide foot. If in doubt, try as many as needed till you have the boot that feels right for you and comfortable from the start.
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