When I get the kit list for a long-awaited surf trip to Scotland, I am surprised to see the most important item, is… a pair of really good walking boots. As standard practice for these expeditions I pack my surfboard, wetsuit, lucky teddy (don’t ask), but I am forgetting that we aren’t just going on a trip to Scotland, we are going on a trip to the north coast of Scotland; basically, the Arctic. This surf trip will be nothing like the ones you see in cheesy TV adverts, where golden-skinned long-haired chaps pull up at the beach in their board shorts. This is three hardy Mancunians (and one lucky teddy) driving, sailing and hiking to some of the most remote beaches on earth. And I’m going to need a darn good pair of boots when I’m there.
I’ve worn Salomon boots for as long as I can remember, so this seems like the ideal opportunity to invest in a new pair. The 7-decade old company have a few new models out these days, but for me, there is only one choice; the stylish yet ultra-durable X Ultra Trek GTX. My favourite feature of these boots is that despite me needing a hefty 11½, they are incredible light weight – only 530g. Something I am eternally grateful for as I begin the long commute from our motorhome to an exposed reef that is, according to my friend “only a couple of miles away”. Yes, a couple of miles… over rocks, scree and rugged coastland. Whilst carrying surfboards and 6mm wetsuits. As I see my mate’s ancient old walking boots letting in water halfway through the trek, I’m so glad I’ve got my new stompers. My Salomon’s have a GORE-TEX® membrane, meaning not a drop of salty water is leaking in. On this uneven terrain, these boots excel as they have protective heel and toe caps, essential for a comfortable hike.
As we arrive at the beach, we are all in a rush to get changed into our wetsuit and get out into the water. Until we notice one problem; there are no waves. It’s time for Plan B. British waves are fickle and come and go with the ever-changing Scottish weather, so we decide that the best thing to do is go for a big hike along the stunning coastline until the swell arrives. These boots are solid yet ultra-flexible. I didn’t have time to wear them in like you are supposed to with walking boots, but that doesn’t matter at all. They are about as comfy a boot as you can get.
Maybe it’s the lucky teddy, more likely it’s my new Salomon X Ultra Trek GTX’s, but the rain and soaking terrain can’t dampen my spirits, or my feet. As we complete a stunning hike of the headland we see the swell arriving on the horizon. We run back to the beach (some of us faster than others) and get ready for what we came to do – surf. But I have a feeling I’ll be doing my fair share of hiking on this trip.
To find out more about Salomon walking boots, have a look at their website.
Photographs by John Harfield