WRITTEN by CHRIS & ANNE ENSOLL
We’ve all had days out in the hills that haven’t gone as we expected. Sometimes that’s unavoidable, but usually, with a bit of forward planning and a willingness to be flexible, a rewarding day can be almost guaranteed.
1. Choose who to share your adventure with
There are different reasons for going into the hills with another person:
- As equals – two friends spending a day out together. Choose someone you enjoy being with and who you know is competent
- You as the leader – with a novice hill walker. You are responsible for all the decisions during the day. Will your chosen route meet their needs?
- You as the less experienced person – with a more experienced friend or with a mountain guide. Check out your leader’s experience and/or qualifications before you commit to the day.
2. Plan your route
Have an idea about where you want to go and what will be involved. The planning process can be as much fun as actually getting out there and doing it. If you are not familiar with the area, writing down a route plan can be a good idea, taking particular note of any important decisions in route-finding. Take a few minutes to get a good mountain weather forecast, eg Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) and BBC Weather.
Always be ready to change your plan in the light of new information. There are many variables in the hills, including personal fitness, weather, and terrain. Most problems come about because people carry on when they should have gone back. Review your plan regularly throughout the day, and if you think you are going to struggle to complete your planned route, take a few minutes to work out an alternative that will get you back safely.
3. Travel light
Make sure you have everything you will need, but keep your rucksack light. Each item on its own might not weigh much, but ten unnecessary items could add a few kilos to the weight of your sack – extra weight that will not be welcome towards the end of the day
4. Enjoy the journey
We all tend to become very goal-focused. It is easy to miss out on all the amazing plants, rock types, clouds, and people that we meet, because we are too focused on making it to the top or back to the car. Take time to stand or sit and be still. Close your eyes and listen to the water in the stream, the wind in the grass, even the rain. Lie on your back and look at the sky.
A lot. Say hello to your fellow walkers, stop and chat with people. All the best things come to us through relationships. And engaging someone in conversation about their dog is a great excuse for a breather.
Any tips to share?
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