Fun fact about me that most people don’t realise – I’m actually from the countryside. The constant takeaway coffee in hand, innate knowledge of most bus routes in West London and shellac manicure every fortnight without fail may have you fooled, but I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life deep in the Cornish countryside. So when brand new healthy snack range Off The Eaten Path invited me on a guided walk in Sussex with qualified walk leaders Two Blondes Walking I couldn’t lace up my trainers and pack my rucksack fast enough! However it has been a while since I’ve been properly out in the countryside, so I was extremely grateful for all the useful information and tips the ladies shared with me – which in turn I am delighted to be sharing with you.
As you know, I am a huge fan of healthy snacks that can be easily enjoyed on the go – whether walking in the countryside or down Oxford Street – and Off The Eaten Path fit the bill perfectly! These new snacks provide a source of fibre, contain no artificial colours or preservatives, and are made from ingredients such as rice, green peas, pinto beans and white beans. Every snack is then seasoned with either simple sea salt, sour cream and cracked black pepper, or caramelised onion and balsamic vinegar flavouring – so far my favourite flavour is Sea Salt, but they’re all pretty damn good! The snacks were created for those who prefer to discover the path less travelled, which is why the partnership with blogging duo Two Blondes Walking makes total sense. Their love for the great outdoors combined with uncovering new and undiscovered hiking routes, makes them the perfect partner for Off The Eaten Path.
Two Blondes Walking comments: “Our mission is to get as many people as possible, especially women, out enjoying the outdoors. Adventure and challenge is good for the soul – and where better to find both than in the UK’s wild and wonderful, green spaces.
“As such, we’re delighted to have teamed up with Off The Eaten Path – and we’re very much looking forward to encouraging women (and men) to get exploring and finding those paths less travelled. With this in mind, we have created a series of hiking hacks to get you started as well as some of our favourite walking spots in the UK. What’s stopping you?!”
The Two Blondes Walking took us on a route they had researched and pre-planned in the village of Balcombe in Sussex. The walk took in footpaths, woodland, fields and even a stunning lake. It reminded me how lucky we are to have so many amazing places like this literally on our doorstep here in the UK, yet we so rarely appreciate it or take advantage. It took me just over an hour from London to get to our starting point for the walk, and within moments of setting off I was deep in the forest, using only my Ordinance Survey map to guide me…. well, maybe a little bit of help from Two Blondes Walking too. They even taught me how to use a compass! And I know what you’re thinking, duh Wildcat there’s a compass on your phone – only when there’s signal and you have some battery left – which you might not deep in the countryside! So whilst they may be a long forgotten art, I for one was very pleased to go over these skills because you genuinely never know when you might actually need them.
So what other tips did Two Blondes Walking share with me? Lucky for you I have all ten tips right here!
- Always take a rucksack. You don’t need a huge one – just a nice small, compact day sack (about 30l) which ideally has a waterproof cover so you can keep all your wares nice and dry.
- It may not seem like much, but a whistle could well be your best friend. If you’re stuck in the great outdoors and need help, using a whistle will work better than shouting – and the frequency is more likely to be heard by rescue dogs.
- Layer, layer, layer. It might look warm and sunny before you set out – but the weather can change before you know it, so make sure you dress appropriately. We always wear layers – as not only does it mean you can strip off if it gets warm, but it also means you can layer up should it take a turn for the worse – and it’s the layers which trap air to keep you warm. We recommend merino wool, fleece or synthetic layers over cotton t-shirts as they can stay wet and keep you chilly.
- It goes without saying that you’ll need a map… But to keep it looking good as new (and easy to read), why not laminate it before you go – that way it will stay nice and fresh and it won’t even matter if it does get wet!
- Believe it or not, you can still get sun burned in the UK. And while you should always wear SPF, don’t forget to pack protection for your lips too – all too often we forget about them and there’s nothing worse than sore, chapped lips.
- Staying hydrated is super important – but when the weather is warm, you don’t want to be quenching your thirst with tepid water! We suggest freezing your water the night before your walk so it melts as you walk for a refreshing hit while you’re out and about. And make sure you take purification tablets with you in case you run out of supplies, so you can fill up from rivers or streams.
- A long-distance walk can burn a lot of calories and running low on energy can impair your ability to keep warm and make sensible decisions. Always carry enough food for your outing plus emergency snacks. Off The Eaten Path vegetable crisps made with real vegetables such as rice, green peas, pinto beans and white beans, are the ideal snack while you are out and about. Plus, they’re pretty tasty too!
- A first-aid kit is a must, even on short hikes. But if you’re also prone to blisters, always wear two pairs of socks and smear Vaseline on those troublesome spots you know tend to rub. Hopefully, this will help keep blisters at bay!
- We always take a Bothy Bag with us when out walking. Not only is it great for a rainy picnic but it’s an actual storm shelter and in the unlikely event of being stuck out in the open when the weather takes a turn for the worse, it provides an amazing amount of warmth with two people inside them.
- Finally, remember to have fun! Hiking is a chance for you to enjoy the great outdoors and also spend some quality time with your girlfriends. In our opinion, there is no better time to have a gossip and giggle with your best friend than when you are out and about.
Believe it or not, despite the lack of coffee places, nail bars and shoe shops, I actually loved getting out in nature and walking – and even more unbelievable was that I didn’t have the need or even the urge to look at my phone whilst I was out on the walk. I’d strongly encourage you guys to do the same – disconnect even for an hour, plan a route and just get moving out in the great British countryside. You could even make a mini-break of it – after our walk I stayed at the beautiful Ockenden Manor and Spa – check out my YouTube video of this gorgeous country spa hotel which was the perfect place to relax after walking.
So what are you waiting for? Time to get planning a route, dig out your walking shoes, grab your bestie and make sure you pack some Off The Eaten Path to keep you fuelled on your walk- they’re available now from leading retailers including Sainsbury’s, WHSmith and Ocado.