"Take a hike, mate!" Often said in jest to close a subject, but if you really do want to 'take a hike' then you need to do a GR. These long distance hiking routes cross-cross Europe and offer some of the most stunning walking in the world. They are to be found across Europe, but especially in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. 

This is the 'full monty' on our Corsica GR20 Kit list. We put a great deal of thought into our kit lists, but we are asked on many occasions about the finer detail, and on the trip we are often quizzed about what we are wearing, carrying and using. After 20 years as an International Mountain Leader I have my own views on what I need to be comfortable and efficient on a route such as the GR20 - Europe's hardest trek. 

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea where the mountains refuse to be tamed, and where nature rules. Over the centuries the island, which is a region of France, has been invaded more than two hundred times, and the local people, who are fiercely proud, love to quote “Often invaded, never put under.” It’s an attitude and spirit, which continues today.

The landscape of Corsica is so much wilder than I ever imagined; rocky ridges, pristine forests full of aromatic plants, tumbling rivers of crystal clear water, high pasturelands where the shepherds still graze their sheep, and forest dens where the wild pigs forage in the undergrowth. For those who like statistics; Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. It is 183 km long, 83 km wide, and has 1000 km of coastline with over 200 beaches. I have been a full time International Mountain Leader for fourteen years, and I am happy to report that the island is now top of my list of favourite places to walk in the mountains.

A guide to choosing a suitable headtorch for running or hiking, to help light up those dark nights and see you safely through from dusk until dawn.

Whether you’re heading out for an evening run, got caught out as the sun set on a hike, or just finding your way to the campsite facilities, a decent headtorch will make all the difference. Advances in lighting capacity and battery technology now offer us a dazzling range to choose from, depending on our budget and needs. Simple models with minimal adjustment sit alongside more advanced models, offering programmable lighting modes, multiple beams, and even intelligent reactive lighting that economises battery power.

Shock horror the 'guide' is wearing walking shoes! That was certainly the reaction a few years ago when I turned up to meet my group of Tour du Mont Blanc hikers with low cut walking shoes. The walking shoes in question were North Face Hedgehogs and five years later I am still guiding wearing 'Hedgehogs'. Certainly, since then it has become more and more common for 'walkers' to be wearing low cut 'shoes' rather than heavy duty walking boots and from my own experience the benefits are clear.

Remember the good old days of fumbling with an OS map in a howling wind, then trying to locate the compass in one of your jacket’s many pockets (only to realise it's embedded firmly at the bottom of your rucksack…)? Remember too the early heart rate monitors that ate batteries, were clunky and didn’t seem to work reliably for more than a few weeks before they’d start to provide inaccurate readings that were off the charts?