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How much cash will I need during the tour, and for what purposes?
Not a great deal. Your bed and breakfasts are prepaid, and you will either have prepaid dinners, or can pay for these by credit or debit card. Most other facilities can also be paid for by credit or debit card, including lunches, shopping and admissions to visitor attractions. It would be useful to have a small amount of cash available for possible use of public transport, the Windermere ferry and leaving tips should you wish to do so.
Can I obtain cash or change money during the tour?
UK banks are increasingly closing their branches in small towns, and keeping them open only in larger towns and cities. There are branches of Barclays and National Westminster Banks in Windermere which operate normal opening schedules, but other than that only mobile banks or branches with very limited opening times. To obtain cash it is easiest to look for ATM machines, which are often situated outside supermarkets or other shops and give access to cash 24 hours per day. Main post offices are also offering some of the services that used to be provided by banks. Facilities in the Western Lake District valleys are restricted, and our advice is to set yourself up with the cash you need before arriving at one of these places.
How difficult are the walks?
The Heart of Lakeland and Cross Lakes Ramble tours can be taken at either moderate or difficult/strenuous level. The strenuous applies if you walk the whole way every day and involves distances of up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) with up to 800 metres (2600 feet) of height gain. But on every day which would be more than 11 kilometres (7 miles) there is the option of doing the first half of the walk, then completing it by public transport. (On the one day when public transport is not available we can arrange a taxi pick-up at the midway point, which is at no extra cost provided it is set up in advance). Neither tour can be classed as easy, therefore some previous hiking experience is advisable. Just Walk contains 8 suggested walks, of which 3 are Easy, 2 Moderate, and 3 Hard.
What experience and skills do I need?
You should be comfortable walking 11 to 12 kilometres (7 to 8 miles) per day for the moderate version, or 20 kilometres (12 miles) for the strenuous, in mountainous terrain. You should also be able to read a map and use a compass to check your direction.
What kind of footwear do I need?
Hiking boots are strongly recommended, although lightweight ones are adequate in summer conditions. They must give you a proper grip on the ground, as well as providing ankle support, and should be waterproof in case of wet weather or water lying on footpaths or flowing across them.
What special clothing should I bring to walk in?
You need a waterproof cagoule and trousers, since walking in the rain is always a possibility, also a hat and gloves for days when there is a cold wind. Bring plenty of pairs of thick socks, and a spare pullover and/or sweatshirt. Remember that in these days of global warming there is the risk of getting too hot as well as too cold, and in that event you will need a sun hat, sunblock and plenty of water. Once above the tree line, you won’t find much shade from the hot sun! You will find it more comfortable to have a complete change of clothing for the evenings. On most nights we deliver your surplus luggage to the accommodation automatically, and where it is not automatic it can be arranged on payment of a supplement.
Do I need a compass?
Yes, everyone should carry a compass when out walking in the Lake District fells, and should know how to use it. If you stick to our recommended route, and the weather is fine, you may never use it, but better safe than sorry! At one or two points our route descriptions mention the bearing you should be walking on if there is the risk (e.g. in mist) that you could take a wrong direction. If you need some advice about how to use a compass, we can arrange a short briefing session for you on your first evening. Please mention this in advance, and allow time for it to take place.
Must I follow exactly the recommended route?
No, it’s your decision where you go. However, if you opt to take a different route, remember that the level of difficulty could be higher than that published for the tour. If you do decide to follow a different route, perhaps to take in the top of a mountain, please mention this to the proprietor of the accommodation where you stayed the night before, so that if you happen not to check in the following night we will have some idea of what has happened and where you might be.
What will happen if I am delayed?
We ask you to arrange your day so that you check in to the next accommodation by 6.00 pm at the latest. If you haven’t shown up within an hour of that time, the accommodation owners have been asked to contact us and depending on the circumstances you could be reported missing. We could then initiate a search. If you are delayed and have a mobile phone, or reach a phone in the valley, please try to let either the accommodation or our office know what is happening. If you decide to have your evening meal before checking in, please let the accommodation owner know that this is what you are doing.
What kind of rucksack do I need?
If you book the Heart of Lakeland tour, there is one night for which you have a choice of whether or not to have your luggage delivered. If you opt not to have it delivered, you will need a rucksack large enough to carry the essentials for one night (spare light shoes, a change of clothes, night attire, etc.). If you have luggage delivered every night, a small day pack to carry food, water, spare clothes and other items you need while out walking will be adequate. If you book the extended version of the tour, the same applies for the single night spent at Loweswater. By not having your luggage delivered for these nights, you will be doing your bit to preserve the environment, AND WE WILL MAKE A DONATION TO THE LAKE DISTRICT FOUNDATION OF £5 for every person/single night spent at either place, for which we have not delivered your luggage to that point.