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 

Woman opening water bottle

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. 

People using compass to read map

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. 

Man looking at phone

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. 

Rucksack on woman's back with lip balm on toggle

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. 

Man and woman walking in woods

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. 

Explore more 

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.

The muddy sole of a raised walking boot fills the foreground as a line of four ramblers stretches off away from the camera

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