Your first walk in a hill or mountain area is an experience you will almost certainly remember. But poor planning or bad weather (or even a closed tea shop!) can quickly ruin things.
Here are a few equipment tips to help you enjoy your walk -
Look after your feet. Start off by getting a good pair of boots which fit you. They should be suitable for the kind of walking you plan on doing – the rougher the terrain, the heavier duty the boot you will need. Also think about socks; most people use a very thin pair under a thicker pair to help prevent blisters.
Dress properly. What you need depends on the time of year and conditions – and remember these conditions may be completely different up the hill to what they were where you left the car. Start with a moisture-wicking baselayer then add insulating and windproof layers on top. Pack a waterproof outer layer, and maybe a hat and gloves. Gaiters can be invaluable in boggy British conditions – they look weird, but they’ll help keep your feet dry, and save you from having muddy trousers flapping around your ankles.
- Footwear : firm souled and preferably with decent ankle support
- Waterproofs : jacket and overtrousers, ideally windproof too
- Base layer : wicking top, a cotton t-shirt is not recommended
- Mid layer : fleece or jumper
- Trousers : tracksters, hillwalking trousers, but not jeans
- Extremities : Gloves, hat and/or buff
- Spare clothing : minimum of another fleece/thermal and gloves
Food and drink. Keep fuelled up and you’ll keep on striding, so remember to pack meals plus a few snacks and plenty of fluids. Please only bring snacks, liquids for yourself and NOT for the whole team. Also, I would recommend you consider bringing snacks like, fruit, nuts, cereal bars, flapjacks.
Carry it all comfortably. You’ll need a bag to throw everything in, but it doesn’t need to be too big. Also think about poles – they’ll save your knees.
Weather changes in the mountains - the higher you go in the hills, the lower the temperature (drops 1°C for each 100 metres of ascent); the wind is stronger up there (2 to 3 times the speed in the valleys); there is more rainfall (3 times that in the valleys) and there is more risk of mist and cloud (mist on the tops 3 days out of 5). Weather conditions can change in minutes in the Scottish hills and you need to be equipped to cope with this.
Be careful about foot placement, as there is always the risk of concealed holes, rocks, slippery ground and soft bog. Be particularly careful when descending steep ground and when crossing streams and rivers. Streams in flood are deceptively dangerous. Most accidents happen on the way down, when people are tired, rushing or no longer paying attention.
The Country Code for Walkers
While out walking in the Scottish countryside remember you are walking in areas where people live and work. We also share the countryside with much wildlife. The following are a number of important recommendations to abide by when out walking: -
- Respect the people who live and work in the Scottish countryside. Respect private property, farmland and all rural environments. Do not interfere with livestock, machinery and crops.
- Respect and, where possible protect all wildlife, plants and trees.
- When walking, use the approved routes and keep as closely as possible to them.
- Take special care when walking on country roads.
- Leave all gates as you find them and do not interfere with or damage any gates, fences, walls or hedges.
- Guard against all risks of fire, especially near forests.
- Always keep children closely supervised while on a walk.
- Take all litter home - leaving only footprints behind.