Walking in the great outdoors is most definitely one of the great joys of life. Getting out in the fresh air, taking in nature, beautiful landscapes and discovering new places along the way. Not only that but walking has massive health benefits, not just physically but mentally too. Our mental health is improved with the escapism from our usual busy lives and the chance to get away and think positively whilst stimulated by invigorating surroundings.
Some people think walking or hiking is for elitists etc. This is simply not true. I myself can enjoy a walk that is 1 mile just as much as spending a day up on the mountains for over 20 hours. It is not about speed, it is not about number of miles, it is about enjoying the time you have and the surroundings, be it with great company or on your own.
Here I will note some basic tips for beginners who want to venture out and walk in the countryside, but would like some great basic tips to get you started and gain some confidence.
Finding Easy Routes
I have found that one big thing that puts off beginners is the fear of getting lost. If you are just starting out then going far into the outdoors can be quite daunting if you don’t have a good sense of direction to start with.
There are many ways I advise to gain new confidence in routes and direction whilst building up your walking feet.
Ask to join some more knowledgeable friends on their walks. This also adds a good way to enjoy some social chat rather than just sitting somewhere for a coffee to meet.
Reservoirs, lakes, canal and river walks are also a good way to start with less navigation problems. Many waterways have well defined paths. Plus if all you have to do is keep the water on one side of you then you generally can’t go wrong. Yorkshire Water for instance have great paths around many of their reservoirs and have enhanced the countryside surrounding it.
As you build up to going on longer tracks you may want to explore the grounds of iconic landmarks. Some stately homes and historic buildings have incredible parklands to walk. Some have miles of pathways to discover with a history of their own to learn.
Start with the more famous iconic walks. Famous walks can get busy, especially in the summer months but this can be an advantage to someone who is really scared of getting lost. There are more people around to help plus the sign posting is clear, and the paths are more obvious. Take the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail as an example. A walk of waterfall filled beauty with an obvious 4 to 4 and a half miles pathway.
Maps – Don’t be scared of the word map. Leave extreme map reading to when you are proficient and heading out into the proper wild. Many websites have smaller beginner walks shown on a more readable and easy to read map, showing landmarks etc. This is often accompanied by step by step instructions on things to look out for on the way and when to turn.
Turn off your computers, put away your phone and enjoy a walk away from it all. Yes, very true, but I always have my smartphone in my pocket, fully charged, for a few reasons.
Location – If I ever do end up off track I can always turn on my smartphone map app and pinpoint my location and the direction I am facing.
Make a call – You can always contact someone if needs be. Phone connection in the outdoors is so much better than it was even just a few years ago. I find 4G in places there was no signal at all 10 years ago.
The good old British weather is marvellous thing. This green and pleasant land is so green and lush because of the amount of rain alas. Our amazing rocky landscapes are awe-inspiring to see but thus we must also make sure we keep our bodies safe when out walking.
Footwear – Your feet take most of the strain on a walk. Grassy fields, muddy paths, rocky climbs and stony tracks. As a beginner I would always advise waterproof boots, hiking boots that cover the ankle. There is no need to spend 100s of pounds but keeping your feet dry, comfortable and not worrying of spraining your ankles will leave you to enjoy the surroundings more.
Jacket – Even if the sun is beating down as you set off on your walk, always carry a waterproof jacket at least in your backpack. We all know how quick the weather can change. once you start getting into hills and peaks you will find this change can happen even faster.
Layers – I always advise to carry one extra layer of clothing too. A fleece or jumper. On a cool day you will still get warm when walking, yes it is great exercise. However if you want to stop and have your sandwich lunch maybe on the top of somewhere you will very soon feel the cold as the sweat cools etc. Take that extra layer and put on at breaks and stops. Why be uncomfortable?
Hat and gloves – If walking in the cold months then take a hat and gloves with you. Why not visit https://shopyorkshire.com/more-products/?v=79cba1185463#!/ for inspiration?
Walking is great for you. It is fabulous for the mind and it helps you keep fitter. Yorkshire has thousands and thousands of walks for all standards.
It is not something to be scared of and once you get the bug you will want to do more and more.
These are just a few basic tips to begin with to help you on your way, I look forward to sharing more on these pages during 2021 and beyond.