With a wealth of stunning places to walk across Britain, deciding where to go is probably the biggest challenge! Start by asking yourself what sort of landscape you like best. Getting away from the stress and strain of city living into wild open country is a necessity for some. Others love nothing more than meandering around city streets, soaking up the sights and sounds of a busy metropolis.
There are a whole range of habitats to explore, from beautiful coastlines, magical woodlands, canals rich in wildlife and history, to the wild open moorland heaths and downs. The choices are endless!
Once you have decided on the place, you should consider the type of terrain that would suit your fitness best and how long you want your walk to be.
There are a wealth of great walking guidebooks, but with some basic map-reading skills you could devise your own route from scratch, turning a walk into a great adventure. Alternatively you can download a route (and save your favourites) in our Route Finder.
Think about how far you are able to walk in the time you have. The average walker takes an hour to walk 3 miles, and around 30 minutes to climb 300 metres (Naismith’s rule), but you should adjust this depending on your fitness levels. It isn’t just hills that will slow you down; mud, uneven path surfaces, high winds and poor weather will have an impact.
It’s important to plan time for rests, breaks and sightseeing, so that you don’t feel rushed. There’s nothing better than discovering an interesting feature to explore! If you are relying on a pub or café in a remote place for sustenance, check the opening times in advance.
Don’t forget to include extra time for a change of plan, or unexpected problems such as bad weather, tiredness or injury, or a blocked path. Plan in ‘escape routes’ and always check the weather forecast on the day via the Met Office website and the BBC Weather website.
Many walks are accessible by public transport so consider leaving the car at home. Not only is it better for the environment, you can also walk a “linear” route from A to B rather than having to end up where you started from, just to return to your car. Don’t forget to check public transport times (and any disruptions to services) before you head out.
Most walks can be memorised or highlighted on a map but if you are undertaking a more demanding walk, consider making your own route card. You can note the location of checkpoints along the way (grid references), times before checkpoints, bearings and ‘escape routes’ in the event of an accident or poor weather.
It’s a good idea to leave a copy of your route card with someone before embarking on your walk and then notify them on your safe return. In the event of an accident, help will arrive much sooner if rescuers have detailed information on your route.
If you’re interested in planning routes, why not sign up as a route developer for Ramblers Routes, our online library of walking routes? We will give you full training and support to enable you to develop high-quality routes, which will then be shared on our Route Finder.