From Cambridge to Russia on foot..

WatchingWater

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#1
I'm doing some volunteer work in Russia for 8 weeks from from the beginning of July 2011, and was thinking of hiking to Russia. I don't know where to start though when it comes to Youth Hostels, Visa's (I think only one is needed, and that's for Russia) places to pitch my tent and anything specific to any country I go through.

Basically I need ANY advice about ANYTHING!

Thanks in advance,

Jake
 
#2
Its going to be a long walk. You need to decide on your route, how long you gonna walk during a day, where you gonna stop for a night. Then you can find more info regarding camp sites, hostels and visa in guide books. You don't need a visa for EU countries but you need one for Russia.

What type of voluntary work are you planning to do there. I was planning to go to Russia over the summer to learn the language and was thinking of combining it with some voluntary work but haven't found anything interesting yet.
 
#3
Might be better to hitch a lift for a big chunk of the way with some returning lorry driver.
 

WatchingWater

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#4
I'm thinking of walking perhaps 20 miles a day, but if I can hitch a lift I will...this complicates things alot because depending on how I travel I will have to think about where I'll be on which days, depending on how far I go on each day...I'll just try as remain as flexible as possible!

Also, in regards to the voluntary work in Russia, I'm being employed as a Summer Camp Assisstant via a group called CSS, here's the main link:

Volunteer Abroad Programs, International Community Service Opportunities

I also have a website with loads of links on if you need?
 
#6
Boredom.

I hiked Offa's Dyke with one mate, which is only 180 miles, and while I don't regret doing it, I did get bored on some flat sections. There's going to be a lot of that on the way to Russia.

I strongly suggest you take transport in stages and hike through only the more interesting bits, if not going straight to Russia and do your hiking there.
 

WatchingWater

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Book Reviewer
#7
I'm hoping to have a mate with me, but if not that then at least I'll have my iPod and facebook! I would love to hitch rides as much as possible to save walking along motorways and the like, but I'd like to have a safety route in nobody picks me up fearing me for an axe wielding maniac.
Do you think lorry drivers would pick up two people?
 
#8
It's always hard to speak for other people and say what they might do, even lorry drivers...

But if you were to do some research beforehand then maybe you could arrange something. For example, if you were to notice which truck companies came to near cambridge and then found them on the web. You could contact them and try arranging a lift officially through their HQ. It's just an idea, but nothing ventured, nothing gained...
 

WatchingWater

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Book Reviewer
#9
Cheers Troy, hadn't even thought of that! There's just so much stuff to plan out and I've only just started actual planning on paper, I feel it's achievable now :D
 
#10
#11
I'm thinking of walking perhaps 20 miles a day, but if I can hitch a lift I will...this complicates things alot because depending on how I travel I will have to think about where I'll be on which days, depending on how far I go on each day...I'll just try as remain as flexible as possible!

Also, in regards to the voluntary work in Russia, I'm being employed as a Summer Camp Assisstant via a group called CSS, here's the main link:

Volunteer Abroad Programs, International Community Service Opportunities

I also have a website with loads of links on if you need?

Thanks for the link. Would be great if you could pass me the other web site so I could check out all possible options.

Regarding your trek....someone pointed out that it might be boring in same places, which is truth however if you treat the whole hike as challenge it might be a good fun. No one actually treks through Europe so it might be something interesting and different to do. You can also plan your trek to avoid motorways and stick with smaller roads.
The interesting thing would be to do that trek for a charity. You could advertise it on facebook, in your school or work and rise some money maybe for the ppl that you going to take care of during your summer work.

As Troy pointed out lorries are the other option. My mate's mate was traveling this way across the Europe. She started with her friend, a lorry driver. He got in touch for her with other lorry drivers through a radio and this way she got a safe and free travel across Europe.
 
#12
Check the visa requirements carefully - your sponsor should arrange it for you but have a look at Russian National Tourist Office: Home. Get any information wrong and it could be a real pain.
Also, read the FCO travel advice for Russia: Russian Federation travel advice - information here is an accurate assessment of the situation at any given time. It also gives advice on applying for visas, especially concerning your dates of entry and exit. This is important as you intend hiking - you may cover the distance to Russia faster or slower than you think, ie arriving at the border on a different date to that entered on the visa. I'm not sure how strict they are on that any more - it would be wise to find out.
As a precaution, always have the contact details handy on you for the British Embassy in Moscow (and possibly, the Consulate General in St Petersburg) - you never know if/when you may need them.

Most Brits visit Russia with no problems at all, so you should enjoy yourself immensely. It's an amazing country and the people are very open and friendly.
 

WatchingWater

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#13
I don't what I'd do without everybody's help!

Here's the link to the list Sweet-cheek;

Overseas Job Centre | Gap Years: Gap Year & Voluntary Work in Russia

I'm all for hiking for charity, but would really like to getthe basics sorted first, and a charity as the place I'm working at is a summer camp so not really the sort of thing that would be supported...Maybe help/Holiday for Heroes?
 
#14
Firstly and most importantly, you are a loon: flights these days are very cheap.

From Calais to Moscow it is over 2200km. The good news is that for most of it the land is very flat. The bad news is that for most of it the land is very flat. It will take you over 130 days to complete. You shouldn't have a problem with crime: North Germany, Poland, Belarus all have very low crime rates. Visas can be sorted: you don't have to enter Russia on a specific day, but you do need your visa to be valid from when you hit the border. Go for a 12 month visa with a start date 20 days (as an example of a decent margin) before you are due at the border.

When will you go? Weather at this time of year would make walking a pretty miserable experience. There is also the issue of your speed: have you any practice at sustaining 20 miles per day for more than a few days? With kit, that is an extremely ambitious target (I don't know how fit you are), and injuries could well be a major factor.

You will need a mobile phone with roaming and a solar panel to stick on your bergan to keep it charged (as well as iPod etc). Another good bit of news; I wouldn't have thought that one pair of boots would last, so you may get the chance of sourcing and then breaking in a new pair of boots on the way. Try doing it in trainers and your feet will fall apart and rot (they give no support).

Good luck. I will probably read about you being buggered to death by a circle of gay Chechen truckers on the Polish border.
 

WatchingWater

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#15
I've gone for 3 and a half months to get there, starting from either Calais or Paris. I was wondering if anybody with more experience than me could point me in the right direction in regards to equipment?

Another problem I'm having is trying to create a route that isn't all motorways and roads, I'm guessing the only way I can create a route including pedestrian paths is to get some 1:25,000 scale maps and get down to it?
 
#16
I think you make it more complicated that its actually is. You not going to trek through Sahara or Siberia. I understand that you want to plan as much as possible and be prepared for any possible situation and its ok especially if you doing such a long trek for a first time. Just sit down and really think about the trip. Concentrate on each aspect of the trip separately e.g. health and safety, route, sleeping, food.

Health and safety:
- first aid kit - if you not sure what to take ask your GP
- vaccine - do you need any?
-communication - staying in touch with ppl, make sure they know where you are, any changes of the plan,
- make sure you 'visible' - talk to people you meet, make sure they remember you as it might help to track you down in case sth happens
- embassy - if I was going to any country e.g. in Asia or S. America, especially for a trek in remote areas I would inform the British embassy in that country about my plans ( I don't think it is necessary for Europe); someone pointed on registration with 'Locate'
- load - how much can you carry, pack you backpack and go for a walk in a park, is it too heavy or not? ...and so on.

Do the same with the rest. I would avoid motorway as the trek will be really boring, just stick to local roads. However if you planning to get a lift from lorry drivers motorways might be the best option. regarding equipment - if you planning to camp you will defo need quite few stuff. Any decent outdoor store has a camping or trekking section. Speak to staff. but don't get anything they trying to sell you. Be realistic with getting things, do you really need them? Do you need a gortex rain jacket if you trekking in a summer of just sth light. Remember you will have to carry it all. Look in guide books for backpackers, they usually have some advice on what to take for a long trips.

I did few trekking trips this the summer and just really took basic things; three t-shirts, two pair of shorts, three pair of socks, one set of clean clothes for a pub trip :) light waterproof jacket, backpack rain cover, soap (both to do washing and for shower), trekking boots, sandals, toiletries - all in small bottles ( you can resupply on a way), towel (get the one for trekkers, lighter, quick dry) first aid kit, water purifying tablets, water bottle (just normal 1.5l bottle), thermos, swiss knife,spoon,cup (that could be used as a bowl or pot), string ( or extra laces), duck tape, reflective tape for backpack, whistle, compass, phone, camera, solar charger,watch,torch (exra batteries), lighter, waterproof matches, sunglasses,hat, book, notebook, pen, maps, some food (resupply on a way)- energy bars, powder soups, sleeping bag, mat...iI think that was all, 15 kg in total.

have fun :)
 

WatchingWater

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#17
I think your post just saved me from severely overpacking due to paranoid safety concerns and whatnot! But I still think my list will still come to around 20kg's, if not slightly more! Do you have any solar chargers you'd like to recommend, as well as lightweight one-man tents? Never underestimate the power of ARRSE to help you out!
 
#18
I am glad that you have found some useful info in my posts. I am not an expert in that field, I only told you what i have learned during my own trekking trips and to be honest each trips taught me sth new - what was good for trekking in Alps might not work as good in Himalayas.

If you can carry 20kg go for it. I guess you are a young male so 20kg might not be too much for you. Taking into account my own built I need to be careful how much load I have as I simply won't cope. make sure you will do some training otherwise you will suffer. Walk for several hours a day with 20kg load to see if you can cope with it. When I was in Corsica there were two young Dutch guys that were trekking with over 20kg (camping) which was a lot if you take into account a terrain there.

I used Power Monkey and didn't have any problems with it. Slim, light. I don't know if it comes with all different adapters or you have to buy them separately. Ive stolen it from my mate so thats the reason..:) I don't know nothing about tents as I have never had one, simply to limit the weight. Ive always been staying in lodges or tents provided by them or sleeping under the stars if the weather looked good. however, when in Corsica I have noticed ppl using very light one men tents. Narrow 1m maybe and long. Go to outdoor shops, I know theres quite few of them in Cambridge as I checked them all when I lived there.

In terms of kit, it would be better to post on other Arrse forums that are devoted to equipment (they really give you good advices) as well as trekking or climbing forums. get as much feedback from ppl about certain kit and then decide what is the best for you. And don't buy shit stuff!!! believe me I'm talking from experience. if you in the army or cadets speak to your supervises, they must have some knowledge about this stuff.

One more thing about safety......try to predict possible accidents, so when it happens you wont be in shock wondering what to do. You will know how to react as you though about it before.

1) So if you break a leg - what to do. Whats the first aid for that ( look on the net how to deal with it or get mini first aid booklet). whats there to immobilize the leg (walking sticks, wood, frames in backpack, travel guide, anything stiff) whats there to apply pressure (bandage, tshirt, pants) Who to call, do you know numbers for police and ambulance of each country, they might not speak English, learn few phrases, have a number for your embassy ( memorize the numbers and revise them each day) in that country so they can assist you with help. What medicine to use, how to use them. You wont have time to go through a leaflet when in emergency so label the medicine, what for and usage or just memorize. If possible stick with the medicine you have taken before, you know if they god or not for you.

2) Losing documents -keep your documents safe, make copies of passport, visa, insurance ( do get it), emergency numbers. Keep them in a waterproof bag or laminate them. Make sure that all necessary stuff like documents, insurance policy number!!!, first aid kit, phone, whistle (to call for help) are easy accessible, you need them quickly in emergency.

3) will you be walking through a forest, possibility to get lost. Have a look at bush craft. I have one of SAS survival guides, and whatever ppl say I just love it. Its only a 1£ on Amazon and very useful.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collins-Gem-Survival-survive-anywhere/dp/0007183305/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1295395940&sr=8-3

Think about other possible scenarios.

SC
 

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