The blisters thing I figure I need to combat by getting myself some better quality waterproof boots and perhaps resume wearing 2 pairs of socks. I think it's more the wet feet thing that is an issue as I only seem to get blisters when soaked.
Either way, I've ordered some 1000 Mile Tactel® Base Layer socks to try wearing under my Bridgedale hiking socks to see if that is more comfortable.
Back to getting decent boots - until now I have always had cheap (£30-40) leather boots which start out being really comfortable and apparently waterproof but despite looking after them they fail after not too long in the wet. Indeed in my last 'wet' walk, may partners fabric boots only succumbed to the wetness half an hour before my leather ones.
So I decided to invest in some decent boots.
I have concerns about how breathable the current trend in boots for a Gore-tex liner is. With my flat feet I like to wear supportive insoles (trying Super feet insoles this time) and these can cause issues for the Gore-tex liners.
I don't trust the fabric boots to be as water resistant as a pair of leathers, besides, they all seem to have the Gore tex boot lining which I'm not keen on trying.
After a trying a few pairs on in the shop I settled on a pair of Scarpa SL M3 boots (July 2011). I have wide feet, and found the normal size 10 was a bit tight but the BXX (wide fitting) was like a glove on my feet.
They are heavy! I've not actually weighed my boots but they certainly feel heavy. While this will make my legs work harder (not a bad thing IMO ;) ) it does fill me with a certain confidence regarding the quality of build of the Scarpa SL M3 boots.
The rubber soles are much stiffer that previous boots I've owned, in fact these boots have a crampon rating that suggests some crampons would be usable (C1), though I doubt that would ever be an issue for me!
The rubber extending up the edge of the leather which looks like it will do a great job of keeping water out vs normal leather stitched to sole affair of previous boots I've had.
Time will tell how well the Scarpas hold up in the rain and wet grass/heather, but at around £150 I really hope it turns out to be money well spent!
Proven themselves solid and waterproof
The first real use of the Scarpa SLs for me was walking the Yorkshire 3 peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen y Ghent, in that order). On the way up Ingleborough the rain arrived and didn't let up while we were still on the hill, yet my feet stayed dry.
Stomping through the bogs coming off Pen y Ghent involved paddling through puddles, streams and general well....bogginess. The Scarpas did a great job of keeping the fetid nastiness away from my feet.
Arguably these boots are a bit on the heavy/warm side for summer use, but I would certainly be happy to rely on these in the colder months.