Tips for New Hikers
by Ryan Thomas
Getting out and enjoying the great outdoors is positive for your mental health and well being. The aim of my blog is to help you to reconnect with nature so if you are new to hiking and would like some ideas to get started Ryan has kindly given his top tips for new hikers.
Be sensible about not over-reaching yourself on a hike.
Don't push yourself or your party beyond your limits, and cut your walk short if you are tiring or the weather is worsening and you are not confident of your skills or equipment. Learn to map read There’s plenty of great tips on the Ordnance Survey website and if you plan to venture out be competent, proficient and confident with a map and compass. If you're spending time outdoors, a trusty map and compass will help you to get the most out of your adventure. I recommend the Sunnto Global compass. It’s also a good idea to carry GPS in foggy weather as a confirmation device to keep you away from cliffs.
Know the area People take for granted how much they know about the natural environment in which they live. If you’re going to start hiking by yourself, it’s best to do so near your hometown. Even better, try a place you’ve visited before with friends. You’ll be surprised at how different things look on your own. Tell someone of your whereabouts Be sure to check in with a friend or family member about where you’re going, and when you plan on getting home. Don’t forget to call them when you get back – you don’t want to leave them worrying, or scramble Mountain Rescue and they come out looking for you only for you to have got down off the mountain and to a pub without knowing where you are.
In case something does happen (of course it won’t, but IF it does) someone will know right away that you’re missing. Once you’ve told someone where you’re headed, stick to that plan!
No changing your mind at the last minute and taking a different trail. You want everyone to have an accurate idea of where you are, so that help can find you IF you need it.
Leave a route card or other indication of your likely location with a responsible person, and notify this person immediately of your safe return.
Read the weather report If you’re hiking and the weather turns foul, odds are you won’t have time to get yourself back to your vehicle. So check the weather report before you leave, and pay attention to the sky – and your fellow hikers.
If everyone else is headed back to their cars, that’s a sign that you should, too. Always carry a shelter to get out of the elements if you’re going on a prolonged walk further from your vehicle.
The weather can change in Britain on our mountains: keep this in mind - If you live in a desert you are used to the heat. An arctic area then snow.
Britain is one of the hardest places to acclimatise to as we have Wind, Rain, Snow, Sleet, Sun and sometimes all in one day Useful links are: http://www.mwis.org.uk - Mountain Weather Information Service https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/mobile/mountains - Mountain Weather Forecast by Met Office http://www.mountainsafety.co.uk/Links-Weather.aspx/ - Mountain Safety UK https://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk - Mountain Rescue always has good information and they are the experts
Essential Equipment * Warm and waterproof clothing, a map, compass and good navigation skills are essential, and in addition to the standard equipment for country walks, you should also carry: * A survival bag - a heavy-duty bag that keeps your body insulated from the cold in an emergency. See an example on the Cotswolds Outdoor website * A torch and spare batteries * A whistle (six blasts of a whistle or six flashes of a torch is the international distress signal) * Additional warm clothing (including hat and gloves) * High-energy rations (such as mint cake, chocolate, or dried fruit) * Water purification tablets * A first aid kit * An ice axe and crampons when there is snow or ice on the hills
We have a recommended list of kit in our resource library. You can get access by joining the free VIP Club here.
Clothing In the UK, weather changes quickly and it does kill people on our hills. So safety should always be at the forefront of your planning and preparing always with no exceptions. Buying quality clothing will save a life. * Waterproof Outer (Can always be kept in the rucksack until needed, don't leave home without it) * Insulating Midlayer (Fleeces, softshell jackets, down jackets, dependent on the weather) * Breathable Baselayer (Look for technical materials, avoid cotton t-shirts) * Walking Trousers (Quick drying trousers with a good range of movement, avoid denim) * Waterproof Overtrousers (A great option for over your walking trousers in a downpour) * Hats & Gloves * Rucksack/Daypack (Well fitted, adjusted correctly and comfortable) * Watch (Or any reliable method of telling the time)
You don’t need a massive rucksack I get all my essentials in a Montane Cobra 25. Some people do like bigger packs if they are factoring in the family or if they are mountain leaders carrying extra safety kit.
On solo walks
You want to try to pack so you’re prepared but not carrying an excess weight so buying stuff that is lightweight, durable, breathable and up to the weathers is your main concern. Secondly, your main thing is keeping all clothing dry as this is what is going to keep you warm and dry should it arise. Hence, I posted about colour coordinated dry bags to contents in the Mountain Survival post. I mentioned this just in case the unfortunate situation arises like an injury and you find yourself stuck or the weather comes in that you need to find shelter from wind or rain then you might find you lose sunlight so pack for these eventualities. A head torch will help you find the warm kit and waterproofs quickly making you more efficient and not getting hypothermia.
What you have got to consider. It’s not about being bothered. It’s about not putting the Mountain Rescues lives at risk too if they have to come out to get you.
Over To You...
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