How to Start Hiking
Before you get carried away and start trying to understand ordinance survey maps, compasses or planning epic multi-day adventures, this beginner how to start hiking guide will start you off small and safe. The following instalment of blogs will progress the skills and knowledge you need to be confident on your adventures.
Where to Hike
We are going to look at building confidence and start with walks provided by the forestry commission. This will get you outdoors and enable you to build some stamina and get the basics of hiking. There are plenty of walks across the country to keep you occupied starting from easy family-friendly walks right through to mountain hikes. As you progress you will build the knowledge and skills required to keep you safe. The walking page for the forestry commission can be found here.
If you do not wish to go alone, there are plenty of walking groups which you could look into joining. A simple Google search should bring up groups in your area. Other than that you can always set up your own walking group with your friends and family.
There are plenty of beautiful places in the UK to hike, switch off and enjoy the greenery and fresh air.
The walking trails are broken up into different categories, Easy, Moderate and Strenuous. Stick to what you are comfortable with, as this is a beginner’s guide, start with the easy walks. If you are finding them too easy and not challenging enough then feel free to progress. No matter what you choose, you will be out in the fresh air, with nature and beauty. What’s not to enjoy about that.
With some of the trails meeting the countryside for all standards, increasing accessibility for disabled people.
With the walks, it is important not to push yourself too far too fast. Start off on the easy trail, get used to following the signs and then progress from there.
If you are descending a hill and you come across a hiker coming up give way to the climbing hiker.
Acknowledge fellow hikers and be friendly. Stop for a chat if you are tired, often walkers have a sit-down and rest so if you are walking alone, don’t be afraid to ask if you can join them.
Leave no trace, it is important to the hiking trails as it was before you arrived so take rubbish with you and if you see any other rubbish be sure to pick that up and take it with you also.
Stay on track, by staying on the track you will not only help preserve the natural flowers and wildlife but also if something does happen and you need mountain rescue to come and get you it will make their job a lot easier.
Give way to horses.
Equipment and Clothing
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”
If you are just starting out on an easy walk, just wear enough layers to keep you warm and dry, and carry a waterproof jacket in case it does rain. We would recommend walking shoes as these are specifically designed to protect your feet from the unstable ground, trainers may not make the cut. As you progress, hiking boots, base layers, thermals, waterproofs, gloves and hiking socks may be necessary.
It’s always a good idea to carry your equipment in a dry bag. If you do not own one of these and this is your first walk, a simple rucksack with everything inside a plastic bag should keep most of your things dry. Carry a torch, you wouldn’t want to be lost in the dark without one. Hydration packs are a good idea if you are on a long walk, however again as this is a beginners guide, bottles of water should suffice. Make sure you have enough food, sandwiches, snacks, energy bars, etc. Hiking, especially on hilly walks, you will burn a lot of calories, and you may find yourself getting hungry every couple of hours. Get into the habit of drinking and snacking regularly to keep up your energy levels. The sun may make an appearance so have some sunscreen with you too, hand sanitizer, tissues and wet wipes are always handy to take. Finally plasters for your tootsies. As you advance you will know yourself what to take, you will understand more about your body temperature, which clothes work best and how much food you need to sustain the walk.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!