Is starting hillwalking one of your new years resolutions, but not sure where to start? Here are our five top tips for starting hillwalking in 2017.
1. Find Some Friends
Hillwalking can be great fun when shared with others, for encouragement, advice and to share a joke; not to mention hiking with others can be a lot safer too. When just starting out it can be a great idea to head out into the hills for the first time with a more experienced friend to show you the ropes. Struggling to find a friend to hike with? Don’t fear, there are hundreds of friendly and welcoming hillwalking groups across the country. A quick google search of your area will bring up many hillwalking clubs. Social sites such as www.meetup.com are increasing in popularity for easy access to outdoor groups.
2. Learn to read a map
Good navigation in the hills can really make the difference between an enjoyable and safe day and an unenjoyable and potentially hazardous day. Learning how to read a map and use a compass are essential skills for every hillwalker. Navigation can seem easy enough on a clear day, but the weather can change incredibly fast in the hills. As soon as cloud comes in or night falls, navigation and knowing exactly where you are becomes a real challenge. These days GPS devices, smartphone apps and even smart watches can aid navigation and help you pinpoint your location. However, be warned, these devices are not a replacement for traditional map and compass skills.
Navigation skills take time to perfect, so why not consider taking one of our navigation courses? These courses are run throughout the year from our Edinburgh and Glasgow stores www.tiso.com/courses. Also available at Tiso are many instructional guides and books to give you the background knowledge on navigation.
3. Pick an appropriate objective
The hills and mountains of the UK are incredible places to experience, as a beginner hillwalker you want to start off small and work your way up. In the hills it is very easy to rush into a specific objective and end up biting off more than you can chew. Picking an appropriate objective is key, you want a route that is going to be long enough to give you a good day out but not too long that you end up finishing after dark. The route should push you but not be so strenuous that it is unenjoyable. But most importantly the route should take in beautiful views to give you that added motivation.
At Tiso we stock many great guide books to help you choose the perfect route, such as; Cicerones Scotland’s Mountain Ridges Guidebook, Cordee books Ultimate Guide to the Munros and 101 best hill walks in Scotland.
4. Get the Gear
Don’t fear, you don’t need to spend a fortune on this new hobby but you will need a few essential items for a safe and enjoyable day out. Appropriate footwear is arguably the most important piece of equipment for hillwalking, you will need a good pair of waterproof and supportive walking boots or shoes. There are a whole range of different boots on the market and the amount of choice can often be daunting for new hillwalker. At Tiso, our expert and certified staff are on hand to guide you through the process and get the perfect pair for your hiking ambitions but also for your specific foot shape.
As we all know it rains a lot in the UK. Getting wet while out hiking quickly leads to getting cold, therefore another must have is a set of waterproofs, jacket and trousers. Under your waterproof you will need some insulation such as fleece, it is best to wear several thinner layers rather than one big warm jacket, this way you can take off / add on layers to help regulate your temperature. At Tiso our staff are all keen outdoor enthusiast with a wealth of knowledge, if you are not sure what to buy, come in and chat to us.
5. Get out there!
Now that you have got your hill walking team together, brushed up on your navigation skills, got your sights set on a particular hill and bought some shiny new boots, it is time to get out there!
Find a free day that works for everyone in your team and check the weather forecast. When heading into the hills in the UK it is best to use the Mountain Weather Information Service www.mwis.org.uk to find out exactly what the weather conditions are going to be like in the area you are heading. The MWIS forecast tells you how windy it will be on top of the mountain, not just at the nearest town. This forecast also tells you key information such as how cold it will be at 900m, what the visibility will be like and the freezing level. When the weather is looking favourable, get out there and enjoy your new hobby!