Before You Go
Naturally the most important thing you will need on a hike is a good map and the following online suppliers will point you in the right direction...
Stanfords or TheMapShop ...A search on Amazon (under books) may well come up with the right map for you. European names like Michelin, IGN (like our Ordnance Survey), Freytag & Berndt, Kompass, Hallwag will help refine the search. Maps of city centres, of course, are available easily and are usually included in guidebooks.
On a couple of countryside filming expeditions we have taken a map, but not an adequate one, thinking all would be OK when we arrive, with plenty of waymarkers to follow... but more than once we have had to backtrack and ask for guidance because our map was unclear, but then that's called an adventure isn't it?
In Switzerland you know all will be OK, because they all speak English and the waymarking is almost boringly perfect, unlike say Ireland, where trails are often on small farm roads (boreens), there are little or no clues to wether you are on the right road, also local landowners aren't always keen on walkers across their fields, so undergrowth isn't cut, and a game of hide and seek for waymarkers ultimately ensues.
Online maps help planning tremendously, GoogleMaps are good but not always very accurate with finer details. The Satellite view can give you a great idea of the terrain you are in for. If you fancy following our trails, virtually all of them have been plotted here ~ Footloose GoogleMaps
Alternatively you could try foreign map sites like:
ViaMICHELIN ...gives a classic Michelin map view, with hotels, weather.
Hot-Map ...good for city centres with tourist attractions clearly named.
With a map, a small compass may be helpful, although we don't always carry one ourselves, I guess we don't go on really difficult assault courses.
A number of people have a GPS application on their smartphones, and this undoubtedly will help find your bearings in the UK and many other European countries. We cannot vouch for its usefulness and coverage in every part of Europe ourselves, but opening a blog on this subject would be interesting. Our friends have found on a bright day their smartphone screen is hard to read.
On your chosen city trail are there cobbled streets? Prague is full of them and harder on your feet than tarmac. We suggest worn-in soft trainers for this. In our films you might notice Debra wears other shoes for the camera, but always well worn-in... old trainers don't always look too good.
On the longer hiking trails then yes, take walking boots that have been well worn-in. To avoid the risk of blisters wearing two pairs of socks certainly worked for us: put on thick walking socks on the outside and thin cotton socks on the inside. All this costs money, and quite often on a dry well trodden tourist trail with no rocks, a pair of decent trainers is quite adequate.
Add to your checklist: SUNSCREEN MOBILE PHONE SUNGLASSES
COMMON SENSE A BIT OF WALKING PRACTICE
We are not that keen on them ourselves, especially on the level but many people seem to take them for posture and support etc. A tip from Dave: if you want a walking pole that is actually a monopod for your camera, try this made by Manfrotto, it telescopes down quite small.
Goretex or similar can be quite expensive, but if your rainproof jacket doesn't breathe, you still get wet on the inside through perspiration regardless if it's raining or not... yeukk.
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Extract from FOOTLOOSE IN IRELAND
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|Choosing a trail|
|Before you Go|
|Wayfinding in Europe|
|Buy Our DVDs|
|East European Cities|
|Classic Tour Scotland|
|Italy III Campania|
|Italy IV TuscanyRome|
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