If you're struggling to plan your next walking adventure, here's some top tips to stop dreaming and start doing to help you get the most out of your next hike.
Your next walking adventure starts while organising it. Isn't that part of the whole fun?
You do not need to be really experienced or to spend too much money either as you can walk straight from your doorstep or a short hop on a bus, train or car to discover new places. All you really need is some time and a little bit of preparation.
Solo, part of a group or with your own friends or family, you need to consider who will be joining you when you plan your next adventure. As much as we love group walks and the safety that brings, however going solo can give more flexibility and can be rewarding as you start to get to know yourself better.
Here are 4 tips for planning a walk and getting the best experience outdoors!
Waking up and deciding to walk 20 miles across the trails is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Get in shape before you start and be realistic about your limits.
Even if walking sounds like packing a bag and putting one foot in front of the other, a minimum of preparation is needed. You should build up to longer walks and if you're going for a hilly option, you should definitely building up to the "big ones" before attempting it for your first time. Not only will you need to get your muscles ready for the constant movement and strength to climb step after step, but you'll also be working your cardiovascular system. Adding in some local cycling (or a turbo if you have one at home) is a good way to mix up your excercise and prepare you for your big day out.
be If it's your first time, breath and start with a short walk and reflect on your journey ahead. Consider your navigation skills, get informed on how to choose your gear, load your backpack, the estimated time needed to achieve the route (some apps like Visorando can help to estimate the time you would need). You do not want to come back home after nightfall or find yourself in an unsafe situation. The weight of your pack, the elevation gain will slow you down. The average speed limit is around 5km/h (3.1mph), keep in mind the time to have some breaks. This measure assumes a level ground including easy paths. It does not allow for stiles, scrambles, streams or any of the other things you might encounter. Also, walking too much distance or elevation can leave you in pain.
First of all, ask yourself a few questions to help you plan your walking adventure.
When - time of year, date, weekend/weekday - this all affects the possible surface underfoot but also how busy it's going to be on the trails or how much daylight you'll have to complete your walk.
Where - where do you plan to start from? Is it a circular walk or is it one way? How are you getting home? Are there any facilities en route to fill up waterbottles or use the toilet?
What - what surface will you be walking on? What will the vegetation buy (packed forest, muddy slopes, grassy climbs, rocks?). This will help dictate perhaps what footwear to put on or maybe if you need poles or not too.
Weather - what's it looking like on the day? It might be sunny and warm when you start, but as we should all know, that can change in an instant so always pack layers just in case.
If you are unsure of where to go, you could use free walking route planners such as Visorando or Ordnance Survey (for paper or digital maps) to name a few which will show you well trodden paths. With a little bit of Googling, most major spots will have pictures or info about the route so you can plan properly for your day out.
Ok so unless you're going barefoot, you need your shoes and socks (and other clothing is advisable ;-) You want to prevent blisters by having the right fit and well broken in shoes, so lots of shorter walks before your big adventure are a must. You could also look at products like Pellitec (which you can read more about here) which are great for blister prevention.
Different kinds of shoes exist specially designed for different types of adventure for instance if you're adventuring on unstable terrain, you want boots with higher cover above the ankle to help prevent rolling or if it's fast walking, you'll want a more trainer like shoe with good flexibility.
It’s the same with your backpack. Ensure you have your pack fitted correctly (all good retailers will be well experienced in this) to ensure it fits to your body shape and that you spread the weight from your shoulders to your hips to help ease the heavy loads. You could also organise the weight load in your bag properly making sure you have the essentials easy to grab (water and snacks and maybe a waterproof) as well as first aid kit, head torch or flashlight, map, charger and everything else you need for your adventure.
If in doubt, don't go out.
If you think the weather is changing or you may not make it to your next checkpoint because of darkness or tired legs, it's best to play it safe and head back or to your next closest stop. The last thing you want as your phone battery is dying or your legs are getting weary is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Text your emergency contact or use the Visorando locator tool so they know your plan and location. You could also use apps like What3Words (it's free, download it here) which the emergency services here in the UK do use and give them your location so if the worst does happen, they will know where you were last.
Our friends at Visorando have created a handy "Walkers Code" which you can download here to help you prepare for your next adventure or if you're really new to the countryside, definitely check out the Countryside Code of Conduct to help you make the most out of the parks, waterways, coast and countryside.
Article provided by Visorando.