Winter walking tips
Winter is a great time to go walking. Cold clear days are my absolute favourites and it’s usually quieter out and about so you feel as if you have the whole world to yourself. From crunchy frosty footsteps to spectacular views, there’s no better time to enjoy the great outdoors.
Here are some top tips to help you get outside and walk safely this winter.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll experience a million different temperatures when you’re walking. When I start an ascent I suddenly feel super hot and then as soon as I stop for a sandwich or once I’ve reached a summit I quickly get really cold.
Wear thin layers to keep warm and pack a couple of extras in your bag that you can pop on if you start to get cold. Obviously it goes without saying but a hat and gloves are must-haves too.
Research your gear
We’ve all seen the photos and videos of people climbing Snowdon in trainers and so it’s important that you have the right gear for the conditions and the terrain.
If you’re heading out in snow you might need crampons, walking poles and even an ice axe in addition to your usual kit.
Keep an eye on the time
Remember – there is a lot less day light in winter. While you don’t necessarily have to walk only during day light hours, it’s safer to make sure you keep an eye on the time, especially if you’re hill walking or mountain walking.
It’s usually easier to set off in the dark and get down from the hills whilst it’s still light (plus you’ll get to see some epic sunrises!). When you’re tired and it starts to go dark, you can easily lose your bearings.
And speaking of light…
Bring a torch
Just in case you do find yourself out and losing light, bring a torch with you to help with visibility. A head torch will ensure that your hands are kept free, in case you need to do any scrambling.
Don’t forget to bring spare batteries too!
Bring a map
I usually use the Komoot app or Ordnance Survey app on my phone for route planning and this works really well. They also work offline so you don’t need a 4g signal. However, you should always take a paper map back up just in case.
Your phone could run out of battery, you could drop it, or it could just break so it’s a good idea to have a back up.
Make sure you plan your route before you set off and share it with someone so that they know where you are and what time you should be back.
Bring a warm drink
Having something warming can really give you a pick me up if you start to feel tired and cold. Bring a flask of tea, coffee or warm Ribena (one of my friend’s faves!).
Why not take mulled wine with you on your festive walks? Although stick to one – drinking at altitude is not recommended!
Plan for the wind
It’s usually more windy during winter and so, if the forecast has given winds, you should plan accordingly. Walks in the woods will be more sheltered on breezy days but if it’s blowing a gale, avoid trees as branches can break off, causing hazards.
If you can, try to plan your walk so that the wind is behind you as this will be less taxing.
Check the forecast
The weather in winter can easily turn so that what starts out as a walk in glorious sunshine can turn dark and wet in a matter of minutes. Be sure to check the local forecast before you head out to avoid walking in adverse conditions.
Be flexible with your plans – it’s better to be safe than sorry – don’t push ahead regardless. If you need to, spend the day snuggled up on the sofa instead!
In the UK, this is one for all-seasons walking! We did Scafell Pike at the beginning of August and it didn’t stop raining the entire way up!
Pack a pair of waterproof trousers which can slip over your own trousers and a waterproof coat too. Not only will they help to keep you dry but the extra layer will also help with warmth.
You should also put your extra layers in dry bags within your backpack to keep them dry. Plastic carrier bags can work well for this too, if you don’t have dry bags.
Walk with friends
Not only is it safer to walk with company but it’s also lots of fun. Take your friends, partner, family – whoever!
If you don’t have anyone that you can walk with, why not try joining a local walking group? There are bound to be some in your area.
Be careful of your footing
It may be icy or snowy underfoot and so just take care and pay attention to your footing a little more than you probably would during summer.
Bring a first aid kit in your bag with you in case you slip or in case of any other accidents.
Be safe out there this winter and most of all – have fun!