Packing for a walking holiday requires some careful planning, especially in Cornwall. In a climate that’s warmer than most of Britain, but that can suddenly throw a sharp shower at you, what do you need to wear and pack?
Based on our extensive experience of being outdoors in Cornwall, here’s what we suggest you bring.
If your feet aren’t comfortable, you won’t be happy. It’s as simple as that. So, your boots and socks are the most important thing to get right before you stride out.
With walking boots, you often get what you pay for; and big names like Berghaus and Merrell will keep you walking for a few seasons. Walking shoes are OK during the drier months; however, we do like the additional ankle support that you get from a proper pair of boots, especially on more challenging terrain such as the St Ives to Pendeen walking holiday.
Like shoes, break in your socks in advance, to make sure they’re comfy with your walking boots. Merino wool is worth the extra pennies, as it is wonderfully soft and naturally breathable. Features to look out for include seamless socks, wicking fabrics, and padded areas around the heel and toe. Pack spares, as nothing will spoil a good mood faster than wet feet and blisters.
They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes – and we agree that this is (usually!) the case. Again, try not to skimp when it comes to a decent waterproof. The key words for hiking comfort are “windproof” and “breathable”.
In the summer, it’s always worth packing a lightweight waterproof, even if it’s just for a short walk and the forecast is good. In the shoulder seasons, add a pair of waterproof trousers and layer your jacket with a fleece.
Even on a cool day walking makes you thirsty. Pack a refreshing bottle of water, and never rely on encountering a shop on a Cornish walk! Just bear in mind that Penzance was the UK’s first plastic-free town – so pack your refillable stainless steel drinks bottle.
Let’s be optimistic and assume that spring and summer walks will be warm and sunny. The glare of the sun bouncing off the granite rocks and the sea increases the risks of sunburn, so bring a high-factor sunblock. UV-protective shades are another must-pack for the same reason. Wear a sunhat too; although if you’re on the clifftops, we advise either a tight-fitting cap or one of those wide-brimmed designs with ties.
Trust us, you will absolutely kick yourself if you don’t bring a camera. That’ll be the day that a pod of dolphins bursts out of the waves just as you’re walking along the shore. If you don’t have a camera, at least keep your smartphone handy.
These are optional, as not everyone likes walking with poles. However, many of our walkers swear by them, and they help with balance, reduce stress on your hips and knees, and can even build up muscle strength.
“But won’t that weigh my backpack down?”, we hear you cry. A good book, we think, is an essential bit of extra weight (and let’s assume you’re not bringing War and Peace in hardback). When you find a perfect flat rock on a secluded beach and you need to chill out for a while, you’ll regret not bringing a book.
We include all these in our holidays, and they’re definitely a must for your day pack. A map is always a wise idea in case of emergencies, even when the route is pretty self-explanatory (it’s very hard to get lost on a coast path). Knowing more about your surroundings also enriches the experience.
If you arrive here and realise your poles/socks/shades are still back home in the hallway, there are plenty of places to stock up.
On Market Jew Street (Penzance’s high street).
This is also on Market Jew Street.
Again, Market Jew Street. Clearly the street to go to before setting out along the coast path.
Just in case you didn’t pack that book…! This great little bookshop has an excellent local section.
On Fore Street.
Again, on Fore Street.
St Ives also has a small branch of Boots, and a great choice of small independent shops for shades, t-shirts, snacks etc.
There’s a big branch of Boots here for all your sun protection needs, as well as Next and M&S for clothes and supplies.
This is really a surf shop, but is also great for outdoor gear and accessories from the cooler brands.
Want to know more? We’re always happy to talk walking tech. Please contact us at Western Discoveries for more helpful packing hints!
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