Fastpacking in Wales and the UK

Hi everyone. I recently fell in love with the idea of doing fastpacking, and I want to plan a solo adventure, running through some nice, wild places and staying overnight. I do a lot of trail running here in Wales, and would like to know if any among you has done this before and what places you would recommend to start fastpacking. For the moment I am gathering a general knowledge about light equipment to carry, including a small tent, sleeping bag and the bare essentials. I've been searching the Internet but the info about this type of backpacking+running in the UK seems to be rather scarce. Maybe you know a good website or blog that I can start with? Many thanks!

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Comments

  • Wtf is fast packing? Is that an Americanism for hiking quickly?
  • Maybe he means 'fudge packing?' he does spend a lot of time in Whales after all?
  • Hmmm - I think I've probably done this (that's fastpacking rather than fudge packing) even if we never used the term. Certainly for the last 10 years or so a few of us have headed up to Scotland each May and (at least one some occassions), carried light weight mountain Marathon kit and run/walked 1-2 night trips at speed. 

    There are a lots of options for leaving the car at a station then getting a train onward and runnning back over a few days. My best recollection was a 3 day 2 night trip we did, parking at Muir of Ord and getting the train accross to Attadale on the West Coast, then running back wild camping along the way. Its wild stuff, far from roads, we stayed high on the hills - lonely on your own if you lack confidence in these circumstances.

    Ron Turnbull has written Across Scotland on Foot that might give some idea. Obviously closer to home there are also lots of ideas on our long distance paths, but they are not so wild and inspiring as Scotland 

  • Have you tried the OMM ?  ( Original Mountain Marathon ) Or looked at Adventure Racing ?  

    A friend and i did a two day race across the Elan Valley (carrying all kit & camping the night in between ) We did the easiest option which was 2 x half marathons back to back but there were lunatics that did 2 x full marathons across the hills !

    Was great fun but up there as one of the hardest things ever done.

  • Excellent. Thanks for the info guys!

  • Whats the Elan Marathon one?

  • The OMM was held in the Elan Valley recently, to be honest they didn't do the area any favours in terms of running potential, there is some great trail but they managed to miss most of it.

    I / We do a lot of trail running / wild camping in Wales, depends how much space you want. For two days the Black Mountains is great and easy to avoid the crowds compared to the Brecon Beacons, beyond that look at Elan and slightly further North but stick to Mid Wales to again avoid the crowds. Outside Scotland Mid Wales is as empty as you will get IMHO.

    There are a few boothy's out there as well but you will need to do your research to find them image

    Have fun...

  • Many thanks frenchy232!

  • El you may want to consider whether you need a tent or not in the summer ( hah!) months, a bivvy bag would probably do you just as well and be considerably light
  • Some serious consideration, thanks Lirish. Somehow I try to fool myself believing that I'll be less exposed to the elements using a tent. Anyway I don't think I'll be ready to tackle that adventure until next year, provided it´s dry enough. First in the list is Barcelona Marató, in 2013 image

  • The Cape Wrath trail in NW Scotland - amazing!! There are a few hotels on the way, but mostly self sufficient. Check the bombing ranging is safe & ensure the ferry is running. You did say adventure! This is as about as wild & remote as you will get in UK, its a very serious challenge & needs serious planning

    Here a link: http://capewrathtrailguide.org

    There are a fair few ultra light tents that weigh less than a bivvi bag. Take a look at Terra Nova

  • Looks really inspiring UltraMonkey - I've run some parts of it (like the Fisherfield Forest for example. It would be a fantastic project.

  • This is a topic that's close to my heart.  I love camping and running, so I do both together whenever possible.  I've started a blog about this topic specifically, and hopefully it's of some interest.

    I'm not a huge fan of racing, but like to cover as much ground on a trip as I can, so it's ideal for me.  Plus the OCD nature of choosing kit for different routes appeals to me.  Here's my site!

    http://outdoorguyuk.tumblr.com/

  • You might want to track down the book called "Wild Running"

  • Thanks Steve!  I've seen that book before and it's definitely on my to read list, although it is more about trail/fell/cross country running in the UK from what I remember.  There is little about the camping element that fastpacking includes.

    YiddBarmy - I'd say that fastpacking is quite different to ultra running although there is obviously a lot of cross over.  Ultra running is about running long distances, whereas fastpacking focuses on being entirely (or almost entirely) self sufficient whilst travelling long distances.  Most 'self supported' ultra races still don't expect you to contain all of your kit and regularly have aid stations and a tent waiting for you at the end of a leg.

    I'm not a competitive runner myself so am not drawn to racing, however I love running long distance, camping and having to be extremely thorough when planning a trip, so fastpacking was a natural progression for me.

  • You didn't come across as disparaging at all!

    I'd agree with you that fastpacking would suit a lot of people more, as it's about the enjoyment and less about the grind.  I rarely worry about personal bests.  Maybe competitive wasn't the right word, but driven.  I'm not motivated enough to 'be the best' and push myself to that extent, but each to their own.  I'm a little jealous of the motivation some people have maybe, but I'm happy with my lot.

    One thing I would say is that the kit definitely can get expensive, although doing it on a shoestring requires a lot more finesse!

     

     

  • You didn't come across as disparaging at all!

    I'd agree with you that fastpacking would suit a lot of people more, as it's about the enjoyment and less about the grind.  I rarely worry about personal bests.  Maybe competitive wasn't the right word, but driven.  I'm not motivated enough to 'be the best' and push myself to that extent, but each to their own.  I'm a little jealous of the motivation some people have maybe, but I'm happy with my lot.

    One thing I would say is that the kit definitely can get expensive, although doing it on a shoestring requires a lot more finesse!

  • A great route to do in Wales is the Beacons Way, 95 miles from Abergavenny to Bethlehem (!) Some info on this site - http://www.breconbeaconsparksociety.org/national-park/the-beacons-way/ 

  • You know, Bartholomew, that is something I'd love to do.  I'm organising a trip we're doing in just over a week in the Brecon Beacons which is shaping up to be a whole load of fun and we'll be covering a small part of the Beacons Way, along with where it meets up on the Taff Trail.  

    You've given me the idea to do both of those trails from start to finish.  I'm so easily peer pressured.  

    I've done a write up of our planned route if you're interested http://outdoorguyuk.tumblr.com/post/91141055979/fastpacking-trip-in-the-brecon-beacons-pt-2-planning  

  • It's a brilliant route, I did it over 2 days last year. It naturally could break up nicely into 4 days. Apart from a few 100metres either side of pen-y-fan you will see virtually no one too. Such a stunning route.

     

    Nice write up - when you stay in talybont, the Star Inn does great beer and decent pub food. The White Hart also worth a visit!

     

  • My idea of fastpacking is to take a daypack and pay someone to transport the main luggage betwen B&Bs image Off to run Anglesey then Bangor to Borth at the end of this week in my mission to run round Wales (Pembs, Ceredigion and Offa's paths already done). Contours is handling the packing and I'll see to the fastimage

  • Bartholomew - thanks for the tips!  I had heard that the Star was great and that's definitely on our plan.  We've got a few different routes, depending on team progress and weather, so we can extend or shorten the route as we see fit.

    Steve - that's the beauty of it.  There are no hard and fast rules to argue over - it's about covering ground and enjoying the countryside.  

    I like to be a purist and be self sufficient as much as possible, however I always get tempted by the occasional nice pub meal and pint!

  • I'm a pretty new runner so can't really offer tips, except to say that my fiancee and I use a lightweight Vango Tempest 200 tent for backpacking and it's fab - 2.75k for the 2-man, and if you leave the flysheet connected when you put it away a really nice quick pitch as well. 

    Also, any advice about starting out with running in the mountains? I'd love to do it, and do lots of hillwalking, but have only started running regularly in the last couple of months so am still quite bad at it! How did people get started?

  • I've seen the Vango Tempest and it's a great tent.  If you're splitting it between two people, it'd work just fine for fastpacking.  Personally, I like to go as minimal as possible (but you lose a bit of comfort) and use either a tarp, bivi or my favourite; the Coleman Raid.  It's only 980grams and just about fits two, so is super light and very affordable.  I did a review of it here 

    http://outdoorguyuk.tumblr.com/post/88946444829/review-coleman-raid-1-2-man-tent

     

    In terms of getting started running in the mountains, I'd recommend doing a bit of cross training to strengthen your core, but mainly just running and finding out what works for you.  run at the same pace uphill but not the same speed (shorter steps, higher turnover) and the faster you go downhill, the less energy you expend braking (don't blame me if you try this).  There is some fantastic advice over at the BMC's website

    http://bit.ly/1qXTiKg

    I imagine if you already do a lot of hillwalking and you're getting a fairly decent mileage up on running (10 miles +) then you'll be just fine!  Remember, you can always choose to walk.  The main thing is to make sure you have the right kit with you, as safety with running in the mountains is quite different to in a town/city.  I'm sure you're aware of that if you already enjoy hillwalking though.

  • I've seen the Vango Tempest and it's a great tent.  If you're splitting it between two people, it'd work just fine for fastpacking.  Personally, I like to go as minimal as possible (but you lose a bit of comfort) and use either a tarp, bivi or my favourite; the Coleman Raid.  It's only 980grams and just about fits two, so is super light and very affordable.  I did a review of it here 

    http://outdoorguyuk.tumblr.com/post/88946444829/review-coleman-raid-1-2-man-tent

     

    In terms of getting started running in the mountains, I'd recommend doing a bit of cross training to strengthen your core, but mainly just running and finding out what works for you.  run at the same pace uphill but not the same speed (shorter steps, higher turnover) and the faster you go downhill, the less energy you expend braking (don't blame me if you try this).  There is some fantastic advice over at the BMC's website

    http://bit.ly/1qXTiKg

    I imagine if you already do a lot of hillwalking and you're getting a fairly decent mileage up on running (10 miles +) then you'll be just fine!  Remember, you can always choose to walk.  The main thing is to make sure you have the right kit with you, as safety with running in the mountains is quite different to in a town/city.  I'm sure you're aware of that if you already enjoy hillwalking though.

  • I have a tarptent notch and its fabulous.  Weighs under a kilo.  Very comfortable for one, although two would be a non-starter.

  • I've only just discovered the concept of a poncho-tarp-tent and have yet to try that out. Nice to see a recommendation.

    Ultimate Direction have just released their Fastpack 20L backpack for exactly this market segment. I wondered if anyone has tried it? The 20L claims to be unusual for one of this size in not having a waist belt. I ask because I am very impressed with their Signature series runner's bags: I have both the multiday Peter Bakwin 12l and the little Anton Krupicka 5l. I love that they sit so high and don't bounce around.

  • I'm yet to use a poncho tarp tent, but am interested.  There are some great looking models available with stretchy looking material, although as I like to fastpack and run, it wouldn't be so comfy as a waterproof because they're so loose fitting - this would kind of defeat the object of it being multi purpose.  I'm considering trying one out on a hiking trip though.

    The Fastpack 20l backpack doesn't look particularly suited to fastpacking, although the definition is quite vague.  In the US, it generally seems to imply just packing light and hiking long distance, although people will run to break records.  This backpack looks more suited to the hiking type.

    If you're going to run and fastpack, I'd definitely recommend a waist belt.

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