Sunday, 4 May 2014

Walkers Wisdom

There are plenty of excellent sites telling all about the important things you need to be aware of when hiking in the hills (none better than the Mountain Rescue pages) but what about all the important nuggets of information they don't tell you on there?  Things like...

But it's so close...

  • Don't start your walk down hill.  Yes there's a pretty view and the car park might be cheap, but at the end of a long hike you'll be cursing that last mile uphill back to the car.
  • Always have a plan B.  I don't care how much plan A looks like a good idea, plan B is always needed in case the weather closes in, the path is closed, the path obstinately refuses to be found, the pub you just passed looks rather nice or you bought the wrong map.  Not saying any of that has ever happened to me, just mentioning it, that's all.
  • You do not speak cow.  Or sheep.  That will not, however, prevent you from mooing and baaaing at them as you pass by.  Expect blank non comprehending looks - especially from the serious hikers you didn't hear approaching from behind.
  • It is further than you think.  Honestly - trust me on this one.  When you're stood on top of a fell on a bright sunny day looking at all those other summits so close you could almost touch them turn to the person nearest to you and ask them to give you a sound slap.  Believe me it will hurt a lot less than your legs after you've hiked off more than you can chew.
  • Sound carries along valleys.  Specifically arguing about the route carries along any valley you happen to be in at the time, allowing other walkers to hear that you "...should have turned left at the bloody fork a mile back, not right."
Never travel without Soreen! (Penicillin optional)
  • Sarnies and crisps do not travel well - what you need are good robust pies and maltloaf.  I'll come clean, several months ago Soreen kindly sent me a box of goodies so I could write about them but please don't think this has swayed me in anyway.  A quick flick through my blogs will prove I have been a dyed in the wool Soreen fan for many moons .  Seriously we never hike without them - they are indestructible, taste fab and are full of useful calories.
  • Avoid bulky bracelets and watches - when it comes to any kind of scrambling - which all of the best hikes should contain - watch winders and big bangles have a nasty habit of embedding themselves into the back of your hands.
  • When in need of a pee, take your rucksack with you.  If you leave it on the path and venture into the bushes, the first thing the next passing hiker will do is see the rucksack and look around to see if the person it belongs to is nearby...
  • It might be full of gorgeous gooey well deserved calories, but chocolate melts meaning on hot sunny days you'll be drinking your Snickers bar not eating it.  (Some might say another good reason to pack a Soreen...)
  • And while I'm on the subject of Snickers - on winter hikes the toffee will set to the consistency of concrete.  When they tell you to take an ice axe on winter hikes it isn't just for safety - you may need it to help prepare lunch.
  • Tell people where you're going in a "this is an important aspect of mountain safety" manner rather than a "I'm climbing lake district fells while you're stuck in an office" manner.  The latter may be more fun but it won't make you popular.
"I'm climbing Ill Bell today - if I'm not home by 8pm call MR" Correct
"Ha, ha I'm climbing Ill Bell today while you're stuck in the office" Incorrect
  • Finally, have fun - if you walk 20 miles then well done you, if you walk 1 mile, equally well done.  Just get out there, take a few deep breaths and remember why it's good to be alive!