If I could choose, my natural state of shod-ness would be nothing. I would choose barefoot over any shoe on the planet. I dislike socks and although I do wear them within my wellies they come off as soon as the wellies do.
But digging ditches, treading through shin deep mud, walking over stones, through rivers, kicking a ball for the dog, walking along the nature trail all require some level of foot protection over and above what nature gave me.
I had a footwear dilemma while WWOOFing. I set off with fashion wellies and doc martens, tried ankle high waterproofs, mid calf dunlop wellies, further fashion wellies and then finally splashed out on a pair of Dickies rigger boots. They were way above our footwear budget but were rather gorgeous in their rugged brown leather-ness, had steel toecaps which is always good for feeling like an empowered and powerful woman, had cute little pockets (in which I used to keep an interesting selection of small things). They lasted all the way round the UK and did the first few months here too. They finally failed due to splitting at the back which I sort of fixed with ShoeGoo but they were just a little too short being mid-calf rather than knee high. The mud here on Rum, particularly on the croft is *extreme* and has a high up the leg splash point. So I retired them to the horse box which is our storage space. Sadly they shared that space with the winter mouse infestation which meant that while they were still in use even though I was not wearing them they were no longer suitable to act as footwear.
Since then the search has been on for *the* boot for Rum. I wear my wellies hard – they have to be up to walking down to the village two or three times a day (a round trip of 2 or 3 miles, so a regular 10 miles at times) over mud, rocks, track and road. I drive, dig ditches, ceilidh and generally just live in them.
My second to last pair were neoprene lined and topped which I have fallen in love with. I like the warmth, the comfort and the ease of on and off-able -ness that they afford me. So my current pair are the same design. The first pair were just over £20 and lasted a matter of weeks before splitting so they were returned and I got a refund to set against a more expensive pair. Which have just about lasted three months before also splitting and leaking. I once again have a wet foot and a lack of faith in wellies.
I have been given hints, tips and recommendations of all the big brands – Hunter, Aigle, Muck Boots, Le Chameau but I confess to being cagey about forking out £100 plus. There must be the welly out there that can honestly keep up with my feet…