There is an optimistic tendency in most of us to over-estimate the distances we can tuck under our belts day after day, especially if longer jaunts are infrequent. Bearing in mind that adventures on foot are about leisure and recreation, try to be realistic when working out daily mileage, overnight stops and re-supply. Arriving in a village after its only shop has closed is more likely to be inconvenient rather than a disaster but could be avoided with sensible planning.
As we have no right to camp where we like in most of the UK, leaving overnight pitches to chance is not recommended. Accommodation guides that include campsites are published for many long distance footpaths (LDPs), especially national trails. The Backpackers’ Club’s LDP Site and Pitch Directory is the only one of its type. Covering most of the established long distance routes in the UK, it is compiled and updated by members and complements its UK Farm Pitch Directory. Membership details at www.backpackersclub.co.uk. Then there are tourist boards and national park centres (www.cnp.org.uk). Pulling together a number of sites in a new area from a variety of sources and working out your own routes to link up several can while away many happy hours.
Potential sites are not the only places to bear in mind when planning your route. Longer trips mean that the 'poste restante' service at post offices is a useful resource for collecting fresh supplies and posting home unwanted items; it pays to check opening times for those in remote locations and small villages. Pubs and hostels that offer camping are useful places for picking up parcels along your route - if you are stopping there, of course!
* There’s something quite relaxing about camping within earshot of running water but beware of boggy ground.
* If you cannot find some shelter behind a rock, wall or hedge, pitch your tent so the entrance faces away from the prevailing wind.
* Try to avoid setting up your tent in a dip in the ground or at the bottom of a slope - rainwater runoff and cold air creeping downhill may disrupt your sleep.
* Avoid pitching under a tree –a lightning strike is unlikely but drips from above will drive you mad long after rain has stopped.