It may or may not be a surprise to you that I LOVE walking. I love getting out and exploring and it visibly works wonders on my mental health. Anything from a gentle stroll to a couple
of hours hiking, sign me up, especially if it is somewhere new to discover and explore. There is definitely something about being out in the fresh air surrounded by the beauty of nature that just soothes my soul.
Now I enjoyed walking and exploring before lockdown, but when we were told to stay at home and only exercise locally, it did give me the opportunity to walk the many footpaths and trails right on my doorstep. I do feel very lucky and privileged to live where I do with a lot of wide-open spaces and places to walk. However, I am certainly looking forward to going a little further afield now and discovering new places to walk! Hopefully as restrictions ease we can start exploring once more!
With more positive things in mind, Spring has now officially sprung here in the UK! The days are getting longer and longer, and the weather is improving, which means going for walk or hike is a little easier than the cold mud, biting wind and short days of Winter. That doesn’t mean the Spring and Summer doesn’t bring its own set of challenges for all those wanting to get out there.
So, I thought I would compile what I’ve learnt on my many walks and hikes into a handy guide, tailored for Spring and Summer!
*Quick note – I am by no means the voice of authority on walking/hiking, this is simply what I recommend/have learnt on my explorations!
CLOTHING FOR WALKING
Let’s start with clothing. This can have a HUGE impact on how enjoyable your walk is going to be! We all know the importance of light layers and this is doubly important as the seasons change from colder to warmer. I’m talking a good solid, breathable base layer and potentially an insulating mid layer, which will depend on the weather. You also want something light and waterproof for those summer showers, extra great if it’s something you can stuff into your rucksack until needed.
In the autumn and winter, I am rarely seen without a beanie/bobble hat on. It keeps my hair in check and stops me from getting earache from the often biting wind. However, as it becomes warmer, I tend to swap out the bobble hat to a baseball cap to keep the sun out my eyes.
Footwear. Ah footwear. Potentially the most important item of clothing in a hiker’s wardrobe. From trainers to boots to wellies it all depends on terrain, length of walk and the weather. For a lighter day, in terms of weather and terrain, a good pair of trainers will do just fine. However, you might want something a little a sturdier, with ankle support for loose terrain or wetter conditions. There are lots of brilliant shops out there that will help you find the right shoes for you.
Special mentions go to...
- Gillet/body warmer – keeps core warm
- Waterproof/zip off trousers - for any real wet spring days
Another very important thing to consider is your route! This involves time, terrain and just how difficult this walk is going to be! There are a lot of walking/hiking books out there with local walks to your area that will give you a lot of information about the walks. But you can also completely plan your own by simply grabbing an OS map for your area and take a look at the footpaths around you.
It really pays to just spend a little bit of time before hand planning your route, knowing how much time it might take and what the difficulty level is to make sure your walk is still enjoyable. I have had many moments where I wished I had thought through some things beforehand!
Over the past few months, I have tried various different navigating aids, so much so I am planning on doing another blog post on my favourites, so keep a look out for that! But remember, you can never go wrong with a map and compass.
ESSENTIALS TO TAKE
Even if you are just going for a short walk, it’s always best to be prepared. Particularly if you are walking somewhere that you might not see many people, or you’ve never been before.
Below I have listed some essentials I pack and some things I need to add.
- Backpack with all the essentials! (below)
- Water and a snack – Water is an obvious one but for me a snack is also essential. Even if I am only going for a short walk, my blood sugar levels have a habit of suddenly dropping. Not fun if you are in the middle of nowhere. Pack a snack for those unexpected hunger pangs!
- Suncream – remember UV can penetrate cloud cover too!
- First aid kit – I need to get a little first aid kit. Luckily, I haven’t needed one as all my walks have been pretty tame, but it’s always better to have it and not need it!
And there you go, my UK walking guide for Spring/Summer! Keep an eye out for more walking related posts and let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything or if you have a favourite walk where you are!