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Kindle Books

20 Yorkshire Walks with only one map OL21

Kindle book - My Lanzarote. 10 walks and a personal view

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20 Walks in the Yorkshire Dales with only one map OL2

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Walking Poles

For posers? Absolutely not. They are especially useful on steep downhill sections where they save considerable weight on the knees. They help on ascents by spreading effort amongst more muscles. "4 wheel drive" if you like! They aid balance, especially when crossing streams. Don't forget you will be carrying a rucksack so you are  heavier and more unbalanced and have more weight to balance than when "solo".

In 1981 a Dr. G. Neureuther published a report demonstrating that trekking poles reduced up to 13 tons of load on the lower body while trekking on the level in an hour. The figure became 28 tons while walking uphill and 34 tons downhill (averages were  based on moderate hills).

Walking (or treking) poles provide more of a general workout improving overall fitness.

It is however important to adopt the correct technique. Softly "plonking" them here and there is a waste of time.  You need to practice - left stick forward/down as right leg is used and vice versa. It takes a little getting used to but it is actually a fairly natural movement once you get going. You also need to apply effort to the poles to take some of the load off your legs.

Some have hidden screw threads in the handle on to which you can fix a camera and use as a "unipod" for steadier images. Some have a small compass in the handle but to be honest these are too small to be of much practical use.

To be effective, you need two. One is of very limited value and could cause you to walk unevenly causing aches/pains.

Avoid the ones with the traditional  "walking stick " handle. You should use with arms bent more or less at right-angles, not lean on them as for a walking stick which will make your shoulders ache.

You should adjust the length - shorter for ascents, longer for descents and even of different lengths if traversing a slope (shorter up slope, longer down slope), to maintain that right angle.

Having said all this, if your budget is tight and you have no particular weakness in your legs/knees etc, save acquisition of these for a later date (Christmas present?).

Poles do require some maintenance otherwise they can seize. Never put away wet and preferably separate the sections to allow to dry thoroughly. A small amount of lubricant such as WD40 worked well into the tubes by pushing the inner sections back and forth will help avoid seizure.

Do not undo too far, otherwise the part which grips the pole inside will become unscrewed and detached and will be difficult to retrieve.

There are some downsides to using poles. If hands are busy holding poles, it becomes awkward to read a map at the same time or use a compass or GPS navigator. You also need to take care not to spear anyone else with them.

Visit the Happy Hiker Hiking Store to buy walking poles.

All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.