Monday, 19 August 2013

This Didn't Suck: Buying Boots at Cotswold in Leeds

This Didn't Suck is the bi-weekly recommendation/bit of praise. This week, for the first ever installment, I figured I'd talk about when I bought that basic of basics: hiking boots - and how that did not suck.

This is a recommendation of Cotswold in Leeds, of my hiking footwear (Scarpa ZG65)... and an excuse for me to reminisce about how I got my beloved boots.

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My boots are really wonderful. I love them. I love them a bit too much, actually - apparently I once told the Yeti that if I could, I would marry my boots and keep him as my mistress. Whom I would pay in hikes. In the boots.
I try not to drink as much cider these days.

Anyway, when I announced I was buying my own pair of boots this March, I sought out advice from the font of all hiking knowledge: aka. the guy who'd dragged me up Kinder Scout 8 months previously. He gave me advice which included words like Gore-Tex and Vibram and, above all else, I was instructed to "go somewhere good. Go to Cotswold."

I live near Sheffield, which is hardly any real distance away from the gorgeous Peak District, so you'd think there'd be a branch there. Alas, according the branch-finder, my closest Cotswold is in Bakewell. Now as that's a bugger to get to without a car (and I had no car, and - at the time - no Yeti), so I decided the next time I was in Leeds I'd pop into that branch instead. 

And so, when I was in the city for work later that month, I wandered over (after I'd finished spending over an hour getting lost trying to find it). And by gods they looked after me. Which is especially good as I probably wasn't the easiest customer: I was (and am) enough of a novice to need a great deal of things explained and recommended to me, but also I was sufficiently educated to have a rough idea of what I needed (so I was quite fussy as well). But after an hour of pulling faces, umming and ahhing, and walking up and down those ace ramps, I had my beloved Scarpas. 

The staff there were brilliant: they knew their stuff, they listened to what I said, and they were unbelievably patient with me. If you need new boots, head over to your nearest Cotswold: if it's anything like the Leeds branch, you won't be disappointed. Plus, y'know, student discount. 

As for the boots themselves: Oh I love them so. The ankle support is brilliant: this is especially handy as (1) I injured my ankle quite badly at work in April and it's still fragile even now, and (2) when on hills, it seems my feet don't agree with the idea of walking like a normal human and so attempt to contort just as I put my weight down. In short: if it weren't for these boots, I'm not sure I'd have feet anymore. The grip is brilliant, and the fact they're waterproof means I can stop being such a girl when it comes to puddles.

For the hikes of 2012, I'd worn terrible zip-up boots for the jaunt up Kinder Scout (though I looked fabulous...), and the rest of the time I borrowed my then-boyfriend's mum's hiking boots. That might have been an error in retrospect: she took a size six, and when I was measured for my Scarpas, it turned out I was meant to be wearing a 7... Other than that, my only hike of 2013 up to that point (as the fella was now out of the picture) involved me knackering my Converse.  So the boots were a real step up for me (harhar).

I texted the hiking guru on the train back to South Yorkshire to let him know which boots I'd bought. He replied: "they're about as good an all-rounder as you'll get". Now he knows his stuff, and so do the staff in the shop - all I know is that they're comfy as hell, make me feel a lot more confident in my stride and scrambles, and that I can't help but wonder what I ever did without them.

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