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Walking sticks in England

Hello there, I am on the Best of Southern England tour leaving on 23 May. Are there any people out there with experience using walking sticks in England? Needed for those white cliffs? Superfluous? Not allowed by TSA in carry on, but only in checked luggage, right? Dana Twight

Posted by
7124 posts

Yes to needs to be checked. Only you know how much walking poles make a difference to you when you walk.

Posted by
6113 posts

I have never used walking poles, but I have walked various sections with white cliffs. Which section did you have in mind?

The area immediately east of Brighton has a level undercliff walk - access on the level at the Brighton end, but a steep slope to access at Rottingdean, a gentle slope at Saltdean and quite a lot of steps at Peacehaven. You can walk on the top of the cliffs, which is gently undulating.

It’s a gentle walk down to Cuckmere Haven. It’s a bit steeper at Birling Gap.

Around Beachy Head, it’s undulating and some sections are steeper.

At the Dover end, there is the National Trust White Cliffs of Dover. It’s generally gently undulating, but there are a few steep sections in the gorges.

Posted by
1116 posts

Hi Dana -

When I first saw folk using walking/trekking poles I laughed out loud, believing they were just a faddish accessory for hiking completists. I changed my mind a little while later when after hurting my knee a friend suggested he loaned me his pair to see if it helped and I’ve never been without them since. They do take an enormous strain off the knees, both going up and down hills.

If you get/have a pair take the time to learn how to use them properly - there is a skill to it and some basic technique is required for best results. I see many, even in my walking group, with the poles hardly extended at all and just wafting about. Take a look at ‘Scotland’s Mountains’ on You Tube to see how high Murray sets his (he is climbing Scottish hills to be fair) before you concentrate on the gorgeous scenery in his pieces. Both myself and Julie set our poles similarly high and buy the long handled versions so you can drop your hands when going uphill rather than constantly adjusting them.

I don’t set out on any walk without them now - heavily repaired knee, new hip on same leg, creeping arthritis! If I don’t need to use them, fine, but they are light enough and compact enough when closed to be strapped to my pack just in case I need them.

And yes, in your checked luggage. You can get ‘pole bags’ for them but my packing ‘technique’ doesn’t require them (currently!)

Hope this helps! Have a great trip!


Posted by
1917 posts

Hi Dana!
Have you noticed #5 on the PHYSICAL DEMANDS section of the tour page?

Hike over steep, slippery, cobbled, and uneven terrain at several sites, including Dover Castle, St. Michael's Mount, and Tintagel Castle.

I'm a bit of a klutz and always travel with my poles anyway.
See you in Canterbury!

Posted by
2819 posts

Thanks for the tip, ianandjulie. I am not experienced with mine but will be bringing them to Scotland with me this summer.

Posted by
1116 posts

Hi TravelMom -

Here’s a short video on technique that I find difficult to take exception with:

The only thing I don’t do is stick my hands through the straps as a general rule. I fell in the Alps with my hand through the straps and frankly at that point the poles were as much use as a chocolate teapot. I’d have been better to let the poles go and try get my hands out in front to break the fall. (I couldn’t and the net result was a week’s worth of French hospital food and a knee op, although I would admit the circumstances were out of the ordinary).

I do sometimes, especially on longer walks, wear a pair of cheap cycling fingerless gloves to reduce chafing. Cheap because the rubbing does nothing for the gloves. I vote for the click lock poles, don’t mind aluminium because they are still very light and I set my poles at 115 mm each section, being something of a shortarse whose legs don’t quite reach the ground!

Have fun in Scotland, it’s fabulous!


P.S. Fun fact: The protective rubber tips (I only use mine when the poles are not in use, in transit, on the kitchen floor etc.) are referred to as ‘ferrules’ in the U.K. at least!

Posted by
7728 posts

Well, there is a bit of a difference between hiking poles and walking sticks (the OP's question). I've taken a (one) walking stick abroad and often use it on walks at home. Even bought one over there once to help with steep stairs and uneven sidewalks, and even standing around for long periods of time (in queues for example). I have a bad knee so it helps maintain balance. I'm not self-conscious about it and don't care if people think its unfashionable.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks to Stan and all the others. I did mean hiking poles-appreciate the distinction. For anyone in the great state of Washington, the last time I used hiking poles was in the great dry riverbed called the trail up Mt. Pilchuck. They were extremely useful.

Question was also in the context of to check or not to check luggage going over. Great comments from your experiences.