Saturday, 23 August 2014


Early morning ramblings.

Until about 5 years ago it never occurred to me to have more than one of anything. One day sack, one cag, one pair of boots and so on. I managed to hill walk for 35 years like that, and lived to tell the tale. My first walking boots, purchased at the age of 11, were "Spanish Fell Boots" which cost 30 shillings. They were a sort of felty material. They were extremely comfortable but completely unsuitable for UK hills, and probably for Spanish Fells, too. Then I graduated to "Tuff Work Boots" at about a fiver a pair, and I was 18, and in the University Mountaineering Club, before I splashed out at Christmas 1975 for my first "real" mountaineering boots, made by Dolomite.  They cost me about twenty two quid and I was really proud of them. These were incredibly heavy and durable, and they did me for well over 20 years, not getting much use after university as I pursued my career in the south of England. After these, when I first moved to the Lakes, I found a pair  of boots I really liked - the Zamberlan Alpin Lites - which were a sound 3 season boots but which also took my articulated crampons (Salewa, purchased in 1977).  I used these Zamberlans until they wore out, then got another pair, and later another. Same size, same model. Manufacturers these days never keep a product going for so long before they feel the need to "improve" it.

Then I bought a slightly lighter pair of boots for summer, and a heavier pair for winter, before moving about two years ago also to use trail shoes, and I have worked my way through a number of pairs of these, each a different make or model, but sometimes I still go out in boots.

What's the point of this? Well I went on an easy 6 mile country walk earlier this week in trail shoes and had sore toes by the end of it. And a couple of weeks ago I had sore ankles after a day in boots on the fells. And these minor niggles are common these days. So it set me to wondering.  Is it me getting older and / or softer and / or more prone to minor  injuries and / or less tolerant of discomfort, or is it the lack of consistency in my footwear? Who knows? And who cares? Well I do. Before any walk nowadays I never know what it's best to wear on my feet. I even wore boots the other day but had some trail shoes in the bottom of my pack in case the boots hurt. Crazy. So I might pop out to Millets later and see if they still sell Spanish Fell Boots....


  1. Spanish Fell Boots ! And here's me thinking I was the only person who'd ever heard of them. When I first started walking as a nipper my parents kiited me out with a pair. They were a sort of felt/suede like desert doot affair, I spent many an hour treating them with dubbin in an effort to stop them leaking like a colander. Alas they also had terrible overlapped seams inside which rubbed my feet raw and so I eventually upgraded to a pair of Czech made leather boots with credible red laces more befitting a junior mountain goat.

  2. Hi John

    I remember my Spanish Fell Boots leaking like a sieve in deep snow on hills above Llangollen with the Scouts. I don't think any youth group would be allowed out in this day and age as ill prepared as we were that day. Your mention of Czech boots is bringing back a vague memory that I too had some. But not with good communist coloured laces though.

  3. Ahem
    I think you'll find they were TUF work boots.
    I had a pair of them - did the Pennine way in them when I was 14.
    Then I moved on to my much-missed Scarpa Bronzos...

  4. I stand corrected. You are absolutely correct. In my defence I did type this at about 5 in the morning so was not at my best :-) You were very young when you did the Pennine Way. I am in awe.

  5. Corrected and correct in consecutive sentences. My brain is clearly still scrambled.

    1. My Brother Dave was twelve...
      Mind you, we only got as far as Hadrian's Wall, and gave up knackered and soaked. When it wasn't raining we were eaten alive by cleggs.
      It was ghastly.

    2. Still brilliant. And the cleggs must have been almost as big as Dave.

  6. I can relate to your footwear dilemma and foot/toe/ankle issues. I have the same and also tendonitis and torn calf muscles. I too have used numerous boots, trail shoes etc. I found that a
    Lightweight mid height boot gives me the best of both worlds. I am currently using Merrell Chameleons 5 MIDs, but there are numerous other offerings out there which are similar.
    On the TGO Challenge this year I didn't have 1 foot problem. I put it down to the Merrell's.

  7. Hi Alan
    I may look at the Chameleons.
    What gets me, and I suppose the point of the blog post above, is that it always used to be straightforward. I had a single pair of boots. i took them. Now I um and ah and still can get sore toes or heels or ankles. I wish i could find the right footwear for me. Perhaps they still do Spanish Fell Boots at Millets....