I love getting out into the countryside for a walk – the fresh air, the views, the peace – it helps me to relax and clear my head… But if you are going out walking there are certain steps you should take to keep yourself and the rest of your group safe:
- Plan your route in advance and let someone know where you are going and approximately when you expect to return.
- Always take a map and compass – and make sure you know how to use them! There are plenty of courses providing basic and more advanced navigation skills so if you are not sure, why not sign up to one?
- Take enough food and drink for your trip plus some extra in case your walk takes longer than planned or you get delayed for some reason.
- Wear suitable footwear for the terrain – if you are on uneven/rocky ground you need boots with plenty of grip and which protect your ankles.
- Take a basic first aid kit.
- Don’t rely on your mobile phone – signal it is often patchy in remote and/or mountainous areas.
- Take waterproofs and an extra layer of warm clothing with you so you are prepared if the weather changes, which it often does in the hills.
- Take a whistle and a torch for attracting attention in an emergency.
- Check the weather forecast before you set out and keep a close eye on the weather whilst you’re out and remember that mist and fog can descend very rapidly when you’re up high (see photo below: it was a warm, sunny July day when we set out for the top of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak!).
- If you are walking in a group, always have a back-marker to ensure no-one gets left behind.
- Don’t tackle a walk that is beyond you – always know your limits… ie, if you are not an experienced hill walker, don’t choose to tackle a very high and tricky peak in the depths of winter.
- Make sure you have the correct kit for the season/terrain.
- Don’t go out walking alone in remote areas – it’s just not worth the risk.
- If you are inexperienced, why not go on a few guided walks first to get to know the area before heading out on your own? Many places offer free guided walks and they are a useful way to gain confidence without having to worry about the practicalities (getting lost, what to do in an emergency, etc) as your guide should have everything taken care of.
These basic tips should help you to stay safe when you are out walking anywhere in the world…. so get out there and make the most of the beautiful countryside all around you!
And don’t forget to let me know how you get on…