When it comes to tips and advice for hikers, whether anyone is new to walking in the countryside or has notched up thousands of kilometres on the trail, there is always something new to learn.
I was taught how negotiate the countryside using a map when I was 14 and in the Army Cadets. For over a decade, I’ve helped design and put together walking holidays in off-the-beaten-track locations across Europe. And just about every time I work on one of these holidays, I learn something. It may be to do with a country and its terrain/climate. It could be to do with the ever-evolving world of navigational tools available to walkers. Or it could be something quite simple about the act of walking in the countryside which has somehow eluded me.
To commemorate National Walking Month in the UK, Slow Travel specialist Inntravel asked Andy and I to put together a comprehensive selection of top tips for people choosing their first walking holiday. It got us thinking seriously about the sort of advice walkers would benefit from knowing about. There was a seemingly endless amount of material, so the resulting article written by Andy is a meaty one.
Although its target is new walkers choosing their first walking holiday, the advice within it applies to walking anywhere and to walkers/hikers of varying levels. For example, you could be experienced at walking in Britain but have no experience of hiking in warmer climates or where the terrain is different. We’ve heard plenty of stories over the years about, and from, experienced walkers who encountered problems because they approached walking in another country in the same way as they would at home.
What the tips and advice for hikers article includes
Some of the tips in the article are common sense, but easily overlooked. Like making sure you know what time darkness falls. Others involve more technical considerations. What does ascending 200m in a kilometre actually mean? Do you check what the grade of a walking route is before setting off? One section is dedicated to how to choose the appropriate hiking gear. And there are also useful little personal tips which have worked well for us – as well as being soothing on dry lips Vaseline can help prevent blistered feet.
I’m a great believer in the phrase ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ It could have been invented specially for hiking, where the more work that goes into the planning, the smoother and more enjoyable the walking experience will be. So, whether you’re a new hiker who doesn’t know good hiking socks have L and R on them or are an experienced one who can breeze their way through unfamiliar terrain with map in hand, you should find something interesting and useful in the article.
And if there’s an essential hiking tip you know about that isn’t mentioned in the piece, please let me know.
I am always hungry to learn something new.