The countdown to this year’s Cateran Yomp is most definitely on. Bearing this in mind, I headed to Tiso in Perth, where 2015 event ambassador Polly Murray was meeting potential yompers and dishing out advice on gearing up.
As far as I’m concerned, whatever Polly says is gospel – after all, this is the woman who’s scaled Everest (she was the first Scottish woman to climb the monster peak), plus she’s done the 54-mile Yomp route herself.
It’s easy to lose track of time in the massive store and for those of us into all things outdoorsy, it’s a haven of shiny new jackets, hiking boots, tents, hats, sunglasses…everything you need really. If you get tired trying stuff on, there’s a fab cafe where you can chill out with coffee and cake.
After telling Polly how I was left with a couple of unfortunate reminders of my Yomp 2014 experience – a dodgy ankle and wind rash, thanks to poor quality walking boots and nothing to protect my neck – we aim for the footwear department.
Polly swears by lightweight Salomon boots that combine the flexibility of trainers with the endurance of a boot and a bit of heel support. “Definitely don’t wear boots that are too heavy,” she says. Alas, my feet are too narrow for Salomon, so I’ve got to find something similar.
As luck would have it, there’s a fantastic new Salewa boot which ticks all the boxes and gets the Polly seal of approval. They’re the Alp Flow Goretex Surround Salewa – waterproof and designed to let your feet breathe via special ventilation on the sides. Described as the “ideal companion for challenging mountain tours”, they’re sure to get through the Yomp and leave me with happy feet and ankles.
In tandem with an insole and the right pair of socks (Bridgedale Light Hiker, of which I’ll need three or four pairs so I can change along the route), these boots prove a perfect fit.
What about the wind rash? “You need a buff”, Polly tells me. These multifunctional accessories are designed to keep you warm and wick moisture from your skin to keep you cool when it’s hot. They’re also wind resistant and can be worn as a neckerchief, headband, wristband, balaclava, scarf and however else you wish.
When it comes to jackets, Polly recommends something light and waterproof – it’ll be summer when we’re doing the Yomp. Something like the Rab Muztag Jacket would do and in bright pink, it’s much more exciting than my trusty black North Face jacket. At £199, it’s not cheap so I’ll need to have a wee think before I invest.
In terms of walking trousers, Polly picks out a couple of Berghaus and North Face options, and she reckons the ones with zips are to be avoided. I agree; they’re irritating as heck! She’s not a fan of waterproof trousers but it’s probably worth taking a pair, just in case.
When it comes to tops, Polly goes for a breathable wicking top – “one that won’t stink” – and you can bung in a fleece in case it gets chilly.
Gloves, hats and head torches are things you should consider if you’re doing the 54-miler as the chances are, you’ll be walking into the night.
I’ve already got a rucksack, walking poles and gaiters, so I’m pretty much good to go.
The message, when it comes to clothing for long-distance walks like the Yomp, is to layer up and take warm, breathable and wicking fabrics that can be easily dried and taken off and stored in your bag. The key is to be prepared for everything from downpours to blazing sunshine. It takes place in Scotland, after all!
Check out my next post in a couple of days to see how my training is going.