Boots have been my biggest piece of new kit required for the trip. I’ve sailed the coasts of the UK every month of the year and have more bits of fleece, oilies and gloves than you can shake a stick at. But boots fit for wading ashore, climbing rigging and standing at the helm while keeping my feet warm and dry?
Of course I have wellies and seaboots. I know to my cost though, that they aren’t that warm, even with a lot of socks in. Plus, these days I have custom insoles which won’t fit. (I know that makes me sound old, but they have been a huge improvement in my life, honest, and I don’t leave home without them.) It was imperative I could try these boots on, not buy them on line. I also wanted ones I could walk in, for those glacial wanderings. I’m not planning to emulate Shackleton’s yomp across South Georgia (as if – but here’s a link for anyone who wants to try) but I still want to get some distance.
I’d been putting it off though, not least with dread at the prospect of breaking them in. But it’s sales time! So I did a bit of research, expecting to have to wait till something was available locally. I asked Classic Sailing what they suggested and they said a ‘close-fitting’ wellie, well insulated, would be good on deck and for walking the length we will be doing. I dug around and found some good reviews for Bogs boots which were miraculously available at the Rohan shop in Cowbridge, not 20 minutes drive away. When I got there, they even had a pair which fit and were reduced in the sale. Bingo!
The Mud Test
So yesterday was the trial. With three friends, I ventured out into forecast hailstorms to walk some five miles in the Welsh hills at Wenvoe. We didn’t see any ice (except just one burst of hail) but, wow, did we see a lot of mud! You may have heard it’s rained a lot in the UK recently: the land is saturated and everywhere is a slick. At one point our path took us through a flooding stream which came well up my shins. You can see the height of the mud on my long suffering fleece-lined trousers. (They’re coming too.)
These Bogs boots performed magnificently. They are heavier than my usual walking boots, as my thighs were insistently reminding me by the end, along with the balls of my feet – both problems solved by a bit more training. I wore foot-reinforced knee-highs under warm walking socks and my feet were toasty dry.
The boots have a neoprene shaft with brilliant handles - a great solution for those of use whose calves are (cough) rounder than the average. Inside there’s a neoprene liner too which is a great insulator. The grip is pretty good – of course they are not crampons but no footwear is going to deliver that kind of protection.
A note on other kit. The trousers are Mountain Warehouse and I’ve had them for years. They are much too warm for walking once the temperature gets over 3°C, while being breathable and genuinely waterproof, a combination that is rarer than it should be. My backpack is a venerable Kiwi Macpac; it’s big for a day walk but I had my berghaus boots with me just in case the new ones didn’t work out. The route was adapted from theCardiff, Swansea and the Gower Ordnance Survey walks book, at one point augmented by the compass in my phone.
Tombs, death and sunshine
I often blog my walks, like this slightly eerie one in Norfolk woods. We didn’t see anything dead except five pheasants waiting to be properly hung on a bench outside a cottage. There are two Neolithic tombs on this walk though, at Tinkinswood and St Lythans. I took this picture of the upright dolmens of the latter on a sunnier day in September.