Staff Tips – Walking
- It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go. It is also advisable to have a lower-level alternative planned just in case you arrive at your destination and the weather is poorer than forecast.
- A basic minimum of kit to take on the hill is: waterproofs, map, compass (and mapcase) and torch (headtorches are useful as they allow your hands to be free). It is also worth considering the use of a GPS (Global Positioning System). These compact units give you an accurate reading of your location, which may be helpful if you are uncertain of your exact position. Mobile phones - we may curse them but there is no getting away from the fact that they have saved lives in the mountains. It is worth while leaving it switched off in your rucsac, but have it handy, just in case.
- It is not advisable to leave it to the morning of your trip before checking and packing your gear! Your hiking boots should be in good order and waterproofed. It is good to check that your headtorch has fresh batteries (and a spare bulb). It is also a good idea to pack a hat and gloves no matter what time of year – it can get cold on higher exposed ground, even in the summer.
- It is easy not to drink enough fluid on the hill! It can be a pain to stop and take off your rucsac and find your water bottle everytime you need a drink. Why not look at one of the hydration systems (such as a Platypus or Camelbak) that have a long tube coming from a bladder inside your rucsac, stretching over your shoulder. This lets you drink on the move, which is a great way of encouraging you to drink a little, more often. It is advisable to take high-energy foods such as chocolate, banana chips, dried fruit and nuts. A flask with hot soup or drink will be very welcome on a cold, wet and windy day.
- It is always recommended that you know your route. Check with guideboooks, magazines, friends and on the web what sort of terrain you will encounter. Your route may take much longer than planned if walking through heather as opposed to on a good hillpath. Is that bridge shown on the map still there? Has the forestry shown on the map been felled or even extended? Is it still okay to park at 'point x' ? What will that wee burn be like to cross in a spate? It’s better to ask the questions - it will make your day safer and a lot more enjoyable. It is also advisable to have a route card written in advance which might be easier than plotting your route in poor conditions on the hill.