Best Hiking Tips for Beginners & Post-Lockdown Rules
As lockdown restrictions begin to lift, more and more people are taking the opportunity to travel a little further afield for some outdoor exercise. Currently in the UK, there are not any limits on the distance you can travel for outdoor exercise, including hiking. You can exercise with people from outside of your household, provided social distancing guidelines are followed (a distance of 2m between people from different households). This means that popular visitor centres and hiking spots are likely to become overwhelmed, with a lot of those people likely being beginners and lacking hiking experience. A significant consequence of this will be the probable increase in the demand for Mountain Rescue, who may well already be under-resourced due to illness. Not only this, but current guidelines require all Mountain Rescue volunteers to wear full protective clothing. This is great for safety measures, but if the weather is particularly hot, they may find it more difficult to conduct extractions or assist with injuries.
Avoid the Post-Lockdown Rush
Fundamentally, the best thing to do at the moment is be considerate and responsible in your actions. We are all great lovers of the outdoors and now more than ever, are desperate to get away from the same four walls and head for the hills. However, if people in England all head for popular spots like Snowdon, we end up being more at risk than if we were to source some beauty closer to home.
It can be all too easy to take our local surroundings for granted. But, if there is anything the last few months will have taught us, it’s to appreciate the small things. We recommend taking a look at a map and finding some local routes to find somewhere you’ve never been. Not only will you be helping to avoid crowds, but you may just find your new favourite spot.
To help make things a little less overwhelming, we’ve put together some hiking tips for beginners so you can be more prepared when heading for the hills. Hiking is an incredibly accessible workout but there are a few things we can all do to ensure we’re safe and responsible.
Top Tips to Stay Safe When Hiking
Regardless of experience or level, it’s important to always be organised before a hike so that you are ready for any unexpected scenarios. From simple things such as checking the weather before you leave to finding the map for your route and making sure you know what to expect.
The first step is to select a trail or route that’s suitable for you, both in terms of difficulty and length. Once you have selected your route, familiarise yourself with the area and make note of any points where you could take a wrong turn. It is also useful to determine a lunch spot – perhaps one with a view.
Remember: it is far safer to walk a route that may be a little easy for you than choosing one that will test your limits.
It is more important than ever to be responsible when heading outside for exercise so that we can all do our part at keeping ourselves and others safe. But it’s also important to have respect for the outdoors and other hikers. When you’re out and about, we recommend following the below advice:
- Don’t litter – make sure you take your rubbish with you
- Don’t deviate from the route – this is particularly important if you are a hiking beginner
- Don’t be disruptive – try to respect the nature around you and don’t break branches or cause damage
- Be considerate of other hikers
SLOW AND STEADY
For any hike, consistency is key. Starting your day with a fast pace and lots of energy may seem like the way forward but it’s best that you try to conserve your energy, particularly if it’s a long day ahead. There may be a situation later in the hike that requires your energy. For example, if you get lost.
Remember to always stay with your group. If you do decide to split up, do so with a plan in place for reuniting at points on the route.
No matter how small your hike may be, it’s a good idea to communicate to others where you’re heading and at what point they should ring for assistance. This is an important differentiation from when you expect to have finished your hike as this can be difficult to determine if you are taking in the views or have slowed down due to soreness or injury. Let a loved one know that you have finished your hike and are safe.
REMEMBER THE ESSENTIALS
Items for each hike will vary but there are a number of essentials you should consider having on you for each outing:
- Navigation (map, compass etc)
- Extra layers of clothing
- First-aid kit
- Torch/head torch
- A good pair of shoes – they don’t necessarily have to be boots, but they should be supportive with good traction and breathability
FUNCTION OVER FASHION
Your goal is to have a comfortable hike, and that starts with what you wear. Make sure that you have good quality socks and shoes that will limit your chances of blisters or injury. You don’t need the latest and greatest gear to be safe; just make sure that your feet are supported and the shoes you’re wearing are broken in. It’s also a good idea to either wear or pack extra layers that you can either put on or take off as needed.
With the above tips, you can be confident that you are doing your best to be a responsible hiker. However, with all that said, remember to enjoy your time outdoors and take the time to appreciate your surroundings.