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Conclusion

So, what have I learned since setting off on 13th April 2005.

  • This tiny island, that we think of as built up and overcrowded, still has a huge area of relatively underpopulated wilderness where one may walk for a whole day and not see a single person

  • When one does bump into people, they are on the whole friendly, helpful and interesting

  • The majority of people is let down by a small minority, who either do not realise or do not care about their impact on others' quiet enjoyment of the countryside. These include people, or organisations, who:

    • drive too fast​

    • operate unnecessarily noisy vehicles or machinery (cars, motorbikes, light aircraft, lawn mowers, leaf blowers) - do these people ever stop to consider the number of people that are impacted by the noise they seem to revel in?

    • use vehicles 'off road' and so destroy footpaths

    • fail to take responsibility for the mess left, or damage done to livestock, by their dog

    • assume that everyone wants to hear their conversation, particularly on their mobile phone

    • fail to maintain public footpaths, bridges, gates and stiles 

  • The weather is rarely so bad in the UK that one cannot enjoy a day's walking

  • Having the right equipment makes any walk that much more enjoyable: in particular

    • a drinking water sack stowed in one's rucksack and with a 'sucking pipe' is essential

    • it's better to underpack than attempt to carry too much

    • wear good quality boots and experiment with a single pair of walking socks or socks and liner socks 

    • invest in good quality, wicking and waterproof, walking clothes

    • Subscribe to Ordnance Survey's online service which lets you download detailed maps of each stage of your walk and then shows you your position to within 5 metres. Particularly handy for locating underused or grubbed up public footpaths.

    • keep a compass, whistle and space blanket handy in case technology lets you down

  • Plan the expedition as a whole and then each individual day: in particular​

    • Decide how you are going to get to the start and from the end of your walk each day: either

      • carry everything you need for the entire trip so you just walk from where you slept the night before, but be sure to book accommodation ahead of time - it's soul destroying trying to find something at the end of a long day

      • carry a day sack and use a 'Sherpa' service, or arrange with local taxi companies, to take the bulk of your gear ahead to the next stop each day

      • carry a day sack and base yourself in a suitable location for the entire expedition and use a combination of your own vehicle, taxis, trains and buses to get to and/or from the start and finish point for each day

    • ​Check for refreshment options (pubs, cafes, shops, kiosks) along each day's route and double check that the option you fancy will be open and able to provide food/drink at the time you are likely to arrive. Always carry some cereal bars, fruit, nuts and snacks of choice just in case. 

    • Research interesting places and things you may wish to visit en route and allow extra time for detouring to and seeing them.

    • Check the weather forecast!

    • Let somebody know where you'll be walking, where you are aiming to reach that day and what time you expect to get there.

    • Enjoy the planning stage. Use one of the myriad tools that will help you understand what each day's walk will entail. I have used

      • OS Maps (subscription well worth it)​

      • Map my walk (free basic option)

      • Google maps

  • If you are lucky enough to be able to walk a mile, you can easily walk ​an average of 16 miles each day. At 3mph and with an hour for lunch and a couple more short rests you'll do the 16 miles in less than seven hours. Just do that 77 times and you'll have ticked off Richard's Ramble!

  • In the entire walk I would reckon there to be no more than five miles of what I would call 'uninspiring' trail. This really is an interesting and beautiful country in which to walk.

  • Regrets? Just one: that I've now finished the walk and need to find another challenge.

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