With milder weather on its way, you might be considering trying out some new spring activities. A great option is getting out for a hike in the UK’s beautiful landscapes. It’s free, good for your health and, most importantly, fun.
But where do you begin? Get yourself started with our tips below.
STEP ONE – Find a walking buddy
While hiking alone can give you the experience of total freedom outdoors, finding a walking buddy is a great option for hiking novices.
You can offer each other encouragement, work together to avoid getting lost, and help each other if one of you gets an injury.
Hiking clubs and meet-ups are a great way to meet new people and can help to share things like travel costs to particular hiking routes.
STEP TWO – Wear the right clothing
Make sure your attire is durable and protects you from the elements, keeping your body at the right temperature. It should also be light and comfortable enough to move around in.
And, of course, proper footwear is a must. Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater, writing for Lonely Planet, say: ‘There is no substitute for high-quality hiking boots, which provide grip, support the ankles, and take the knocks…Pay particular attention to the sole: there should be a clearly defined heel, and a knobbly tread fashioned from high quality rubber.’
Also make sure you have a reliable bag, a hat appropriate for the conditions, and a waterproof jacket for that famous UK wet weather.
STEP THREE – Choose a destination, but start small
There are so many hiking locations across the UK, ranging from popular introductory walking routes, such as Roseberry Topping in the North York Moors – which is recommended for beginners by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) – right up to Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
An introductory hike that’s close to home is a perfect starting point.
Chris Townsend, an expert in long-distance backpacking, says: “Start out with short trips and be prepared to make them even shorter if they seem tough. Aiming for high mileages or lots of summits on your first trip could lead to disillusionment.”
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STEP FOUR – Be prepared
With hiking, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality.
Every place has its own risks, so try to read up on each location before you go. Even if it’s a beginner’s hike where there are a lot of trail markings to guide people, you should try to plan a route. It’s a good habit to get into and will keep you safe.
Remember to prepare other hiking essentials, such as a first aid kit and a torch. Meanwhile, always pack plenty of water and snacks to keep you going.
Snacks should be easy to store, hard to damage, and give out a high amount of energy.
Items like fruit, nuts and energy bars are perfect examples.
STEP FIVE – Respect the land
As your relationship with the great outdoors blossoms, it’s important to learn how to respect the landscape, and others around you.
The countryside code, produced by Natural England, is a great place to start and gives advice on how to do just that. It is based around three key principles:
- Respect other people – including the local community and others enjoying the outdoors, leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
- Protect the natural environment – leave no trace of your visit, take your litter home, and keep dogs under control
- Enjoy the outdoors – plan ahead, be prepared, and follow local signs and advice.
Most important of all, enjoy it! Hiking is a great pastime that has so many health benefits, from being a powerful cardio workout, to improving your balance.
As long as you prepare, respect your surroundings, and don’t overdo it, you are sure to have a wonderful time in the beautiful outdoors.