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Walking

The Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Walking

Exploring the outdoors is suitable for everyone, and if you’re just starting to make walking or hiking a more regular thing, then we have some handy tips that can help you enjoy it as much as possible.

From the most appropriate clothing to safety precautions and quenching thirst, nothing is too difficult but some things could easily slip your mind! Read on for our Hiking Blog on Walking for Beginners…

What to Wear Hiking

The first question everyone will ask themselves before they head out on their first hike will be along the lines of: what is an appropriate walking outfit?

If you have little experience with hiking or preparing for the outdoors in general, it can be daunting to kit yourself out properly on your own. Working from top to bottom, we have put together a guide to clothing and accessories for hiking so you can know before you go.

Upper Half

Your first must-have is a waterproof jacket which will keep you protected, dry and comfortable when zigzagging through forests, hills and lakesides.

We all know how quickly the weather can change, and at higher altitudes, a sudden shift in weather can be dangerous if you aren’t appropriately prepared. Look for a good waterproofness level combined with significant breathability, as this will help you stay fresh when you’re on the move and is ideal for brisk treks and mountain climbs.

Your mid-layer is just as important as the outer layer, as it insulates heat and can be used as a light cover-up when the weather is fine. A fleece jacket is a good choice of mid-layer, as it is a multi-use garment and provides protection from icy winds and temperatures.

A base layer will complete your gear for your upper half, wicking away moisture when you’re getting hot and sweaty from exerting yourself, yet still insulating your body heat when you’re cooler.

Lower Half

Just think about how sore your feet get when you are just breaking in some new shoes; now add rocky terrain, steep inclines and many miles on top of that. For these reasons, top-notch walking socks are an absolute essential for walking, hiking and climbing trips.

We recommend that you choose a sturdy, thick pair of socks that are preferably not made of cotton, as this will soak up moisture without drying properly, which will cause painful rubbing and blisters.

Add a pair of quality walking boots to your outfit to make sure that your feet are able to tolerate the strains and stresses of walking long distances across diverse terrain. Trainers or slip-on shoes just won’t cut it on the hills and mountains, plus the varied trails below. You will need a pair that has a rugged grip sole, good support around the ankle and preferably a waterproof outer layer. Walking poles are optional, but recommended if the ground is particularly rough and the going is tough.

Lastly, you will need a sturdy backpack to keep all of your essentials safe. A 33-litre capacity is a great size of backpack for hiking, as it provides enough space for your essentials while not being too big to constrict your movements and put a strain on your back throughout the day.

All in all, make sure you have the best walking equipment for beginners possible for your hike.

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10 Common Hiking Mistakes Made By Beginners

First-time hikers can often forget essential things that might not be the end of the world but can maybe make life a little more difficult uphill. So, here is what to do to avoid trouble…

  1. Take plenty of water with you
  2. Make sure your phone is fully charged (and invest in a portable charger)
  3. A traditional paper map will never let you down
  4. A packed lunch and/or snacks will provide a much-needed energy boost
  5. Pack some plasters, bandages and an emergency blanket
  6. Take wet wipes – they can do so much!
  7. Do not wear trainers (more so for hiking than walking)
  8. Bring a spare hoodie or fleece in case it gets cold
  9. Let someone know where you are hiking before you go
  10. Don’t rush it! You can go at your own pace!

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Where to Go

Ranging from a summit of 1344m right down to the minimum of 600m, there is a peak in the UK to suit everyone, so lace up your boots and go walking. You don’t have to walk or hike up a hill, however – it’s perfectly fine to trek across forests, moors and other terrains on flatland.

Before you head out, ask yourself these questions to help you find the perfect trail and make sure that you’re 100% prepared:

  • How long do you want to hike for?
  • Are you going to take friends, go solo, or hike with the family?
  • Do you know the route?
  • Will you be back before dark?
  • Have you told someone where you’re going?

These questions will help you pick the right trail or route and ensure you stay safe as you go. The last question there is vitally important; before you leave civilisation, make sure that you tell a friend where you’re off to, how long you plan on being away and also remember to give them your contact number.

This will help the authorities find you quickly if you happen to get into trouble and require emergency services. Make sure you check out our Hiking Guide on What To Do in an Emergency before you head off.

Always make sure that you tackle a peak or route you can handle with your current skill level. If you haven’t been hiking before, it isn’t a good idea to start with Ben Nevis or Snowdon. Instead, train and work your way up to higher-level mountains by taking extended walks and slowly building up your stamina and experience.

Record the ups and downs of your experiences the first time and make a mental note of any improvements, additional gear or equipment that might enhance the next walk or hike in the series. You’ll be glad to feel the exponential growth in the quality of your walking and hiking as time goes by. Practice makes perfect!

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