Pack lighter, go further
Our biggest weight saving came from staying in B&Bs every night. I figured that, with the exception of a few things, we only needed to pack what we’d usually take on a day walk. We didn’t need to bring any sleeping gear or shelter and most B&Bs provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and tea bags (though we packed some Earl Grey teabags, in case any B&Bs only had plain tea!). Because it was only four and a half days of walking, we embraced the stink and didn’t carry any extra clothes. We checked the weather and left our jumpers behind, deciding a t-shirt/shirt/raincoat combo would be warm enough. We also left our PJs out . . . rude! We relied on eating out or not being hungry most nights, so we usually only had to buy and carry snacks and lunch a day at a time. As we knew we’d be passing quite a few pubs and villages, there was no need for the trowel, toilet paper or much first aid. I figured the batteries on my camera and the dictaphone would last, so didn’t pack chargers or spares. In the end, we could easily fit all of our gear into one day pack (Dan) and one shoulder bag (Jonathan).
- 1 pair shorts (each)
- 1 long sleeved shirt (each)
- 1 t-shirt (Dan) / 1 thermal t-shirt (Jonathan)
- 2 sets underwear (each)
- 2 pairs socks (each)
- Sun hat (each)
- Raincoat (each)
- Hiking boots (each)
- Lip balm
- A few bandaids
- 2 x 600mL bottles of water
- Water treatment drops
- 2 x plastic cups
- Small carton of UHT soya cream
- 6 x Earl Grey teabags
- Snacks and light lunch when needed
- Bank cards, tickets, cash
- Itinerary and booking details
- 3 x OS maps (borrowed from the Ramblers map library - members only)
- Journal and pen
- Mini cassette recorder
- Phone and charger
- 2 x hankies
- Backpack (Dan) / shoulder bag (Jonathan)
- Dry bag, plastic bags, ziplock bags
Thoughts on our gear
What didn’t we use? We didn’t use the water treatment drops. Although there was one day when we came close, in the end we just asked at a farmhouse to fill our bottles and they obliged - which actually made for a much more interesting experience. I didn’t really use my thermal top, though Dan wore his t-shirt. Because we had the voice recorder, I didn’t write very much in my little journal. We had a couple of teabags left at the end, too.
What did we appreciate most? Probably our biggest luxury was our daily thermos of tea. It’s not light, and the tea paraphernalia can get a bit bulky. However, a nice cuppa can make all the difference in a long day of walking - it can really pull you (read: me) out of a mid-afternoon slump. I also want to give big props to my shoulder bag - it’s a Stuffit Pram Bag, which a former boss of mine bought for me at a trade show. I love the wide shoulder strap, which spreads the load over my shoulder so that it never digs in.
What did we miss? I missed having a second, less stinky top - Dan wore his t-shirt to dinner in Honiton and when we socialised with our hosts after having showers. My thermal t-shirt doesn’t really work for that. Maybe next time I’d take a normal t-shirt or a short-sleeved shirt instead. Dan says he would’ve liked a set of undies and socks “just for evening wear”. How posh!
What did we not take and not miss? Jumper, thermal leggings, walking poles, waterproof trousers - pretty much anything not on the packing list and not mentioned above.
Year of Sleeping Variously: B&B edition
- Bed (4/5) - Comfy. Nicer than it looks on the website or even in my picture.
- Room (5/5) - We got a whole private sitting/lounge room alongside the bedroom. Fancy.
- View (3/5) - A view out over the B&B's beautiful garden to the Blackdown Hills beyond.
- Facilities (4/5) - No bath in the ensuite bathroom - that would have made it a 5!
- Location (4/5) - It was a very good town location, up one end of the High Street. This made it a short walk to the supermarkets, shops and restaurants of Honiton.
- People (4/5) - Friendly B&B types. Had a nice chat with Roger over breakfast.
- Food (5/5) - Breakfast was delicious. Home made muesli and jams, raspberries picked fresh from the garden, cooked breakfast - yum!
- Value (3/5) - Good value, especially considering the vast space we had to spread out in. I almost wished we were staying longer to take full advantage of it!
- Uniqueness (2/5) - It's a pretty place with a lovely garden, but it's not terribly unique.
- That indefinable something (2/5) - There was fruit and chocolate provided in our private sitting room along with the usual tea and biscuits. Not really related to the place, but we had a good dinner out with a friend in Honiton (which was an unexpected surprise).
B&B verdict: 72%.
Previously in our Year of Sleeping Variously: tarp on a hill; tent in a garden; holiday cottage on a farm; tent at a campsite; cabin by a canal; budget hotel.