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Second guessing a need for hiking sticks

We leave Tuesday for a trip to France (Alsace & Normandy) and Wales (Caernarfon, St. David's, and Brecon Beacons). We take our trekking sticks when we go to the Italian Dolomites or Swiss Alps, and I know I sure could have used them in Scotland a couple of years ago, especially when trying to use stepping stones across streams.

My question is, will I wish I had them in Wales for walking or curse that I have drug them along, requiring a checked bag on the Transatlantic flight? (I kind of doubt we will need them in France.) We do not expect to do anything technical but if the trails are quite rocky I may wish I had the poles for stability.

Thanks!

Posted by
15 posts

It probably depends on exactly what kind of walking you're planning to do.

It's unfortunate that trekking sticks are not allowed be in carry-on luggage. If you're used to using them, it may feel awkward without them. You could consider buying a cheap pair when you get there or shipping your pair ahead so they are at your destination when you arrive. Since they break down into small size and they are relatively light, it might not be that costly to ship.

Posted by
1832 posts

I would not bother with them. I can’t see them being required on the Pembrokeshire Coast. The Brecon Beacons do not involve any climbing up severe rocky areas. More of a slog up steady slopes. The waterfall area at the head of the Vale of Neath can also be done without the need for trekking poles.

Posted by
363 posts

I went up Pen Y fan this morning (in the Brecon Beacons). I'd say no more than 5% had walking poles with them. Both kids slipped once on the way down because the path is loose dust but taking it steady you'll be fine. That said mountains in ?North Wales will be more steep in you plan to tackle any. My advice though is stay away from the popular routes if the weather is good. Reported queues of 2 hours for photo ops at the summit of Snowdon over the Easter weekend!

Posted by
2388 posts

Laurel,

I think it depends on why you use the poles in the first place. I'd say if you normally would use them under similar conditions, take them. My husband and I walk for an hour per day...when we are good. My husband will never take this walk without his trekking poles, whether flat or hilly terrain, because using them alleviates any chance of pain in his hips or knees. The few times he doesn't take them, because we intend a shorter walk, he is sorry. They also provide that extra point or two incase of a balance issue on hilly trails.

I usually check my bag and have not had an issue with lost luggage. Checking a bag is not that big a deal especially if it is for your comfort or safety, assuming you have a decent time between flights for luggage transfer (2-3 hours). IMO YMMV

Posted by
580 posts

Hi Laurel -

Since I damaged my knee - fell off an Alp, can’t recommend it, all good now! - I have walking poles with me on any walk, they are just my ‘go to’ option these days. Did a simple walk last Friday and had poles, but they stayed lashed to my pack as I didn’t really feel the need for them. I would suggest that walking the Brecon Beacons would mean they’d definitely see action though.

If you don’t want to check baggage/poles, you could probably pick up a cheap pair over here at somewhere like Go Outdoors, Sports Direct, Blacks, Mountain Warehouse or Decathlon and ‘donate’ them once finished with, to your final B&B for instance, or maybe some outdoors-y place (Scouts? Youth Hostel?). Or you could lash out and bring a brand new pair home with you! (I like Black Diamond poles, but other makes are available - I think you’d need a ‘specialist outdoor shop’ to get hold of them!)

Hope you have a great trip, poles or no poles!

Ian

Posted by
9388 posts

Not planning to climb Mt. Snowden — a two hour wait? Crazy!

I damaged a knee on Cap d’Antibes in 2016 and I cringe at the thought of falling on it again. Ouch! I do like the idea of buying lower end poles (maybe in Caernarfon?) then leaving them at the last stop. We’ve done that before and our donated poles are still in our favorite apartment in Lauterbrunnen where we return again and again. Ian, thanks for the list of stores.

Our sticks are fully collapsible and quite high-end as we use them a lot when in mountains or on our challenging Oregon Coast trails, but I am not willing to risk misplaced luggage as we need to move on less than 24 hours after landing and have no time to wait for a misdirected bag,

Posted by
580 posts

Hi Laurel -

‘Cheapies’ it is then!

I think the two hour wait on Snowden is for photos at the summit cairn. It’s elevated above the actual peak and room for people to squeeze onto it is limited. There are enough routes up to spread the load a bit so you aren’t queuing to get to the summit area, but it will get busy when the weather is good.

Have a great trip whether you get up Snowden or not!

Ian

Posted by
2297 posts

I read that you can bring a cane with you into the cabin and have wondered about this as a substitute for trekking sticks.

Posted by
9388 posts

cala I would guess a cane would lack the sharp points a trekking stick has making it suitable for the airline cabin but not for tough trails.

Posted by
9388 posts

For those who care, an update. We wished we had the sticks on a very steep part of Offa’s Dyke Path and maybe for one of our longer walks along the Pembrokeshire Coast from Porthclais to St. Justinian’s as there were some rocky bits. Only those two times in a nearly 6 week trip with plenty of walking in the countryside. So leaving them at home was the right plan.

Next trip: Dolomites and Alps. We will pack them along — in checked luggage!