Vanessa has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years and has hiked and skied in various parts of the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Dolomites. She also lived in the Canadian Rockies for a winter, and in the US, has skied in New England, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming but while Covid-19 is keeping us closer to home, she has set herself some more local challenges which as well as running the London Marathon in October 2021, include walking the Ridgeway, an 87 mile route which starts in Wiltshire and ends in Hertfordshire and the 630mile South West Coast Path.

She shares her Top 10 kit list for heading out for a walk on the trails as the temperatures drop:

Shorts or leggings

Summer walking is always done in shorts. My Mountain Hardwear Dynama shorts are a favourite with excellent pockets and nice short length, I would switch to the full length version for Autumn and Winter. Nice and light if they get wet, and both the shorts and the trousers have the same comfortable waistband.

Trail Shoes

I’m currently wearing a pair of ON Cloudventure waterproof trail shoes, they are lightweight and have a great grip, although they are almost ready for replacing. These shoes have been so useful as I can also run in them during the winter months.  I might move to the ON Cloudrock for a bit more ankle support for winter walking.


I have a few favourite pairs of socks, I prefer socks with a small ankle section otherwise I find low rise socks get full of dirt etc, my most comfortable right now are from Balega.  I always take a spare pair of socks with me in case my feet get wet!


During the Summer and Autumn months I have a very lightweight Haglofs windproof jacket which has a very slightly insulated front which is perfect for light showers and cooler mornings. For the Ridgeway walks this would be enough as my walking buddy and I tend to target dry days in the forecast. On the SWCP I would also take a spare waterproof although with many sections having long step uphill paths you can get very hot!

Thermal layer

Whatever the weather, walking gets the blood flowing and you do get hot quite quickly. I always choose 2/3 thin layers. A vest top to start and a long sleeve thermal layer over this. I love my Kora long sleeve thermal. It has a very snug feel and is made of very non-itchy yak wool and is long enough to be easily tucked in if I need to keep a cold wind off me. I will usually add a spare mid-layer to my rucksack.


I have a Dakine  small rucksack in bright turquoise; it’s been well used and worn but is still very comfortable to wear Just 19L it’s perfect for a flask of coffee (see extras), maps and some spare clothes. For my SWCP walks, I invested in a larger Osprey pack which has a breathable back panel and space for a water pouch plus plenty of small pockets on the waist strap for quick access to sweets!


These are very important. The adventurer Squasher Falconer, who I have met a few times, wrote a whole blog about them  – the small things matter. If you get the right knickers [pants] on to start the day, it will feel like a good day! So I like to choose my ‘walking pants’ – seamfree and definitely larger rather than smaller!


I have an old cap given to me when I did a charity marathon walk. It reminds me of a close friend who died a few years ago and I like to take it on my hikes to remind me of her. It also keeps the sun off your face when very hot and the rain in showers. In winter I’d also take a woolly hat with me and I have plenty of those from my skiing adventures!


See below – this always comes as an essential extra. I have a small flask which holds enough coffee for two people providing at least two small cups of coffee each. I make sure I have time before I set off to make some fresh; I’m an old fashioned cafetiere person. I do not like the machines with pods and all the waste they create. I try to buy fairtrade, organic ground coffee and I like it with warmed milk and cinnamon ideally!


For my training for the London Marathon I bought a Garmin watch so I can track my pace and miles. I have the Forerunner 735XT – it wasn’t too expensive and the turquoise strap sold it to me! I really like to take it walking as it tracks the mileage accurately.

Essential Extras

Map, torch in winter, water, phone, snacks, sunglasses, spare socks, pain killers, sports tape, cake, sweets and a good friend to walk with.