Going hiking in a skirt

J.F Willumsen, En Bjergbestigerske (1904)

I seem to have unwittingly got myself signed up for some kind of walk on Easter Monday. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all it’s a Bank Holiday so I fully expect to be drunk, hungover, or both. This is all well and good when you’re on your Duke of Edinburgh trek and a hip flask of Dooley’s is par for the course (note to ex-teachers and parents: it wasn’t me), but when you’re a grandma like me and you’ve not set foot on a stile for… years, then it’s not going to help matters.

The second and more pressing issue is that of what to wear. I don’t own any practical clothes. This isn’t intended as a brag or anything because I think it’s pretty shameful, I just don’t really go in for trousers or sensible shoes. When I bought my DMs last year I was really proud of myself for owning my first ever practical footwear. When I wore them for a trek to the pub in the snow over Christmas, Mr Fur Coat’s family found it highly amusing that I considered them appropriate walking gear but I was the only person that didn’t fall over and my feet were toasty warm so I win. The heel actually seems to help you on your way through ice and snow, so maybe they’ll do for the weekend hike.

The real problem I guess is what to clothe myself in. I always quite happily do what little outdoor activity I do in a dress or skirt and get the job done fine, but again, people always seem to find that highly amusing. My Barbour is another ‘sensible’ buy from last year but I need to get down to Regent Street and pick up a hood for it before I can really call myself appropriately dressed.

I read a really interesting post on Needled on the subject of appropriate womenswear for walking recently, which included some really interesting anecdotes from female mountain climbers in ye olde days.

Constance Barnicoat, who was apparently a famous mountain climber in the early 1900s is quoted as saying:

“skirts, even the shortest, are almost impracticable. I promptly sent for proper boys boots . . . and generally rigged myself out as much like a boy as possible with sweater, knickers, and puttees to my knees. . . whatever arguments may be urged against a boy’s dress for a woman anywhere within range of civilisation, those arguments do not hold good in such wilds as we went through.”

Fingers crossed my mountain won’t be so wild. The Needled post also happened to be illustrated with some brilliant vintage imagery on the subject which I’ve copied here. Something to inspire me, perhaps??

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