How to enjoy your winter walks safely
Don't let the colder weather stop you from enjoying fantastic winter walks
Britain may not always be basking in warm sunshine, but there’s little more invigorating than going for a walk on a crisp, winter’s day in the country’s gorgeous landscapes. From the hills and valleys that glisten with morning frost to the vibrant pink and orange sunsets, our nation can be magical in the colder weather.
Of course, the shorter days and chilly conditions mean it can be trickier to walk safely during the colder months. Whatever kind of walk you’re planning, read on to find out how to have as fulfilling a time as possible…
Five tips on how you can stay safe on your winter walks
1. Layer up
Wearing multiple layers of clothing can help keep you insulated by allowing heat to circulate without your body getting too warm. Ideally, your first layer should be moisture-wicking, followed with a light fleece. Make sure you don’t forget about the vulnerable areas of your body that are most susceptible to the cold, such as your hands and ears. Hats and gloves will never go amiss on a winter walk.
2. Do your research
One of the most important things you can do before you even begin your walk is plan ahead. By picking a route you’re familiar with, you’ll be lessening your risk of running into trouble. Or, if you’re keen to explore somewhere new, make sure to prepare by researching your route beforehand. Look out for steep ground and river crossings, which may be trickier to traverse in the winter.
3. Be contactable
Always make sure your phone is fully charged before you leave the house, even if you’re walking with other people. You never know when you may need help, and your phone could be a vital lifeline. Even better, leave the details of your planned route with a friend or family member, so they’re aware of where you are should you run into any trouble.
4. Anticipate the unexpected
It pays off to plan, so before your walk, make sure you’ve picked out spots along your route where you’ll be able to seek shelter, should the weather take a turn for the worse. What’s more, it’s a good idea to pack additional supplies in your rucksack, such as water, snacks, chap-stick, a map and compass, headtorch and a first aid kit, just in case you or another member of your party needs it.
5. Practice makes perfect
If you don’t have much experience of walking in the winter, it’s a good idea to build up your confidence and stamina by choosing shorter, easier trails initially, before you tackle the more challenging ones. That’s especially true if you’re planning on hiking hills and mountains. If you live in Scotland or Wales, you can join one of the many training courses run by the Ramblers to help you build your skills.
We’ve got ideas for hundreds of wonderful walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales, long and short, easy and challenging. Search for routes on our website. Or join a guided walk with a local Ramblers group. Find your nearest Ramblers group and choose a walk that suits your pace, fitness and interests.
A good pair of waterproof trainers or hiking shoes is essential for year-round adventures, especially given the UK’s notoriously unreliable weather.
By equipping yourself with a few key first aid items you’ll be able to quickly treat any minor mishaps that occur when you are out walking.