Getting started with hill walking

Congratulations on wanting to start hill and moorland walking.

Step 1. Get equipped with the basics

You won’t need to have every bit of kit at the start. You will probably find adequate clothing in your wardrobe and drawers just to get started and then you can add to the kit as you go. However, you will need at least
1. a good waterproof coat and trousers
2. good appropriate footwear – including good socks
3. a rucksack
4. map and compass
5. water bottle
6. emergency food
7. emergency shelter of some kind (you can buy a survival bag for very little)
8. a whistle (for emergency signalling – 6 blasts then wait for a minute and repeat)
9. a torch with fresh batteries
10. a first aid kit
11. extra clothing to keep you warm

Consider improving your fitness. Hill walking can be very physically demanding, especially if you choose a multi-day walk and will be carrying a heavy pack. You would be wise to do some exercise before you start. However, if you are completely lacking in fitness you can plan yourself a short and easy walk in the hills as a start and use regular journeys into the hills as a means of improving your fitness. I must advise anyone over 50 who does not take regular exercise to consult a doctor before starting any new exercise programme.

Step 2. Learn some navigation skills

Never assume you will be fine with a gps or mobile phone!! There are some basic skills that you must learn to be safe on the hills. Sadly technology does fail and then you will need to be able to locate your position on a map and know how to use the map to get you out of trouble. You don’t have to be a navigational genius before you start but you should know the basics – your life may depend on it.

You will find the skills you need in the navigation section of this site.

Step 3. Plan a route

Start with a short route and work your way up when you know what it feels like and what you are capable of.

Route planning is an art and it can take many years to become proficient at it but you can learn the basics very quickly. You need to start easy and discover what you are capable of. Remember that safety should be your prime concern and when you are planning a route make sure there are places you can escape too if it becomes necessary. In particular you will need to watch out for rivers (how are you going to cross them? wading is not an option), cliffs, bogs/marshland and farmland. For the first few trips I would recommend sticking to tracks. Be careful with the length of the day and how far you can reasonably go in that time.

Always plan routes that you are capable of completing. It is good to push your limits but not so far that you threaten your own life, or the life of anyone who has to rescue you.

Step 4. Let others know where you are going

Make a copy of your route and give it so someone responsible with instructions about what to do if you do not return by a certain time. If they are not a part of your household then make sure you contact them when you have finished – to save any embarrassments later. You would be wise to stick to your planned route and if you do deviate then make use of a mobile phone and tell someone (texting is usually best – text coverage is better and they get sent when you pass through an area where there is a signal).

Step 5. Check the weather

The weather will have a profound effect on your day. Check it several times over the lead up to the walk and just before you leave. Be prepared to cancel if the conditions are going to be dangerous.

Step 6. Go and have some fun

Set off in plenty of time to arrive at your start point before your planned start time. Having to try and catch up on a walk is difficult and could lead to a dangerous situation, especially if it is a shorter winter day. Remember you are doing this to have fun!

I can also recommend another web site that contains a huge amount of information about the necessary basics for hill walking. It’s called myopencountry and here is the link…