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Walking Holiday in Shetland...Need Advice!

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Mar 30th, 2007, 07:06 AM
  #1
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Walking Holiday in Shetland...Need Advice!

I'm going on a week-long walking holiday in the Shetland Islands in July. Although this is my fifth trip to Scotland, I've never hiked before...just taken coach tours or taken public transportation, etc. Anyway, I'm in pretty good physical shape plus this tour doesn't appear to be too strenuous...walking 8-12 miles per day (no hill or mountain climbing!), stopping for lunch at local hotels or pubs, followed by van which will serve hot drinks and water, and staying at the same hotel every night. So, basically, this is pretty easy going from all appearances. I just need advice or "insiders knowledge" from anyone who's been on such a holiday...such as what type of exercises you did beforehand to get yourself in super-good shape, how much outdoor, hiking-type clothing to bring (we will be returning to the same hotel with laundry facilities)..I mean will one pair of hiking shoes suffice? I will be contacting the company myself for further information on a packing list, but I thought I'd ask for advice on this forum before I do. Thanks for your help!!
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Mar 30th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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I live in Shetland Jane.
1 pair of boots will be good enough I'm sure.
I would say to you, make sure you pack clothes for all kinds of weather.July can be pretty varied up here.
Let me know if I can help you with any other info.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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When I saw your title I was going to post that we have a resident Shetlander on here and hopefully carylspall would see your thread - but I opened it and she was already there You are in good hands . . . .
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Mar 30th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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I've done a number of week long walking in the UK, Scotland, England and Wales, but never in the Shetlands. In terms of preparation, my normal exercise regime is 5 to 6 km walks, 3 or 4 times a week. In the few weeks before going on the holiday, I increase the intensity to 7 to 8 km walks, 5 or 6 days a week. That's always been enough for me.

More important is making sure that my feet are ready, so that I don't blister on the first day and mess things up. So that means walking in the boots I will be using, and wearing the hiking socks with the polypropelene liner socks. I also make sure I have the moleskin and compeed blister plasters in case the preparation doesn't work. As the earlier poster said, one pair of boots (and I would strongly recommend boots over shoes) is enough. The hotel will have some sort boot drying facility.

The must-have clothing are the gore-tex (or similar) jacket and over trousers. I find the ones with the full length zipper up the sides preferable when you are trying to put them on while standing on a muddy path with the rain beating down and the wind blowing at 40 km per hour.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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I think the best way to get in shape for walking is walking. If you already have a good pair of boots you are ahead of the game. If not, get them early and break them in. (I've always liked Vasque boots.) Gradually increase the length of your walks until eight or ten miles is easy. Try and work in some hills even if they're not on your route. The really help get you in condition.

To go with the boots (which should probably have a gore-tex lining), get some "smart wool" of other brand of merino wool socks. They don't itch and keep your feet dry. Pick a day pack to carry extra clothing and in which to stow the layers you discard. I find the ones with chest straps and hip belts are more comfortable, and like external pockets to hold water bottles. A waterproof anorak, and maybe rain pants, a fleece pullover and you should be about set.

Looking forward to reading your report.

 
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Mar 30th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Great advice...thank you! I guess I am more on track clothing-wise than I thought. Thus far I have a Gore-Tex rain jacket, waterproof overtrousers, several hiking socks (not made of the smart wool...I know they're not supppose to itch but I'm afraid to try them..I'm very sensitive to wool), Timberland Chocorua Hiking Boots...they are boot, not shoes as I mentioned before. I haven't broken them in yet; but they've gotten excellent reviews...very lightweight, comfortable, and ideal for wet-weather hiking. I'll check out the polypropolene liners...good idea. I know layers are important, especially those that wick away the moisture. I've heard of this ripstop material that's suppose to be good. So many choices...just want to be careful not pack too much due to all of the airline restrictions. As far as exercise is concerned, I do power walks 2-3 times per week. These can go for 2 or 3 miles but you're going at a clip and using handweights. I'll definitely need to increase the length of my walks but I don't know if I can do 12 miles especially during the workweek! I'm also running up and down the stairs at home to build up my leg muscles. Again, this walk looks to be fairly leisurely with stops along the way so I think I'll be okay. Just do the best I can do. I was in Shetland this past September and yes it can get windy and rainy, but it's a beautiful place. I hope we come across many Shetland Ponies...I just love them. Thanks once again for your help...I'll be sure to post a trip report upon my return!!!
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Mar 30th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Jane2, I'm sensitive to wool also, and have always hiked/walked in silk liners and synthetic socks. I love my acrylic knee socks which I can pull up if I'm cold, or cuff otherwise. A windproof fleece jacket with a full length zipper is a nice layer to have.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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My rain jacket has a hood, but what type of hat would be appropriate? I mean, it will be summertime...maybe it'll be 60F and over...and very windy. I'm not really worrying about scorching sun rays. I see people wearing "beanies" or knit caps when they hike. Would you suggest this?
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Mar 30th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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The wind is nearly always an issue in Shetland, but don't underestimate the sun's rays. The air is clear there and it is easy to burn, especially with the wind. I always carry a hat with a big brim that will keep the worst of the sun off.

Incidentally if your boots are leather consider taking some Nikwax aqueous (not liquid) wax. This is water based and can be put onto wet leather to help retain some waterproofing.

Be careful with waterproof clothing. In some coastal areas it can be dangerous - if you fall you run the risk of tobogganing over the cliffs.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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That's all I need is to take a header off a cliff!!! Knowing me, I'll try my best not to get too close to any cliffs...very scared of heights...and I'm sure our guides will be very careful, as well.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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My experience is that most Brits don't wear any hats when out walking unless, of course, it's very cold. If I'm not worried about sun particularly, I wear a baseball cap - particularly useful when it rains to keep the hood off my face and the rain off my glasses. I wear a Tilley hat, with the dorky neck straps, if I want to keep the sun off my face, ears and neck.

I hope Wasleys will explain about further about waterproof clothing and "some" coastal areas. How can a particular coastal area tell whether I am wearing a waterproof jacket or a nearly identical non-waterproof one? And what does it do differently when it finds out? And what care does one take in those circumstances? I haved walked extensively on the southwest coast path, Pembrokeshire Coast path and Cleveland Way, often in the rain; never have I felt that my clothing has put me in danger. My innate clumsiness, perhaps, but not my clothing.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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hi, jane,

one particular question you might like to ask is about mosquitos - thought to be a problem in some parts of Scotland in the summer.

regards, ann
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Mar 30th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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ron may care to know that Scottish Natural Heritage considers it necessary to post warnings in Shetland, such as this from its website about the reserve at Hermaness:

"Remember that it can be dangerous to wear waterproof trousers near the cliff edge and on steep sea-ward facing slopes because if you slip you will slide more easily."

The danger is obvious to any experienced walker. On steep, smooth slopes you can slide rapidly and uncontrollably. If the slope ends in a cliff you will go over. This is just like kids going down slopes on a plastic bag or tray. Obviously some types of clothing are worse than others.

Such country is found in several places in Shetland (hence the warning), which is very different to the broad, specially made footpath around Pembrokeshire.
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Mar 30th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Wasleys, thank you, I appreciate the clarification. I don't believe that modern breathable waterproofs are any more slippery than non-waterproofs, but I imagine that may not have been the case with oilskins or plastic, non-breathable garments worn in the past.
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Mar 31st, 2007, 02:03 AM
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On the hat thing, Goretax have a high spf baseball cap thing which has a flap which hangs down over your neck (I have to say, even at 50, I think that's so uncool that I always wear it rolled up inside; but I haven't cut it off, because you never know).

Don't undersetimate the wind. You will need something snug even on the hottest day.
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Mar 31st, 2007, 04:41 AM
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The midgies were a big problem here last summer so make sure you have some repellant.
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Apr 1st, 2007, 04:52 AM
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When do the midgies start and are they all over Scotland. We will be going First 2 weeks of June. And walking in the western area Skye. Plans aren't really made yet but I know the general areas. Hope you don't mind me jumping in here and asking a questions.
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Apr 1st, 2007, 07:01 AM
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You usually find the midgies around lochs and rivers, though they were eating me alive in my garden last August -just living in the damp grass and ready to attack!!!
They like damp conditions.
They're not so bad here in June as in later summer, but I'm not sure about the rest of Scotland.
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Apr 1st, 2007, 07:17 AM
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Skye is midge-ridden, but (probably) not in June.
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Apr 6th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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Thanks very much for all of your help. I'll be sure to let you know how things went for me when I return from my holiday in early August!
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