A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking 

Thinking of getting into hiking? 

Whether you’re planning longer adventures with your four-legged companion, or you’d like to push your limits with friends, walking is a brilliant hobby.

No matter where you live in the UK, it’s worth getting out and exploring on foot. We’ve covered why, how, and where to walk to help you get started.

Why start walking?

Walking is great for our physical health, giving us stronger muscles, joints, and promoting cardiovascular fitness. It’s also been linked to numerous benefits for our mental health: studies show that just ten minutes of brisk walking can increase our energy and alertness. So, even stretching your legs on your lunch break could leave you in a better state of mind. 

Plus, getting outdoors helps you to explore your environment in delightful and sometimes unexpected ways. Along with feeling better connected to nature, you’ll start to feel a deeper appreciation for the fields, forests, and landscapes you move through.

Essential gear and equipment

Gearing up properly for your walks will help you to stay comfortable and energised throughout. 

Always plan your clothing around the weather forecast and terrain. Wear quick-drying, moisture-wicking clothes to keep you feeling cool and comfortable, even if temperatures rise throughout the day. For optimum comfort over long distances, try to choose durable footwear that’s right for you.

Some essential equipment is worth packing in a lightweight hiking bag too. That could include a first-aid kit, bottled water or hydration packs, and long-life snacks for the trail. If you’ll be walking after sunset, don’t forget your headtorch! 

How to plan a long-distance hike

Whether you’re planning an all-out physical mission like the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge or you’d simply like to cover more distance than ever before, getting organised will help everything go smoothly. 

Firstly, always plan realistically around your levels of fitness and experience. It’s okay to push yourself a little bit further than before, but you shouldn’t rush into anything difficult or try to cover extreme terrain on little to no training. 

Next, use satellite navigation devices to pinpoint the best possible starting point. When you’re planning your route, which can be done online or via apps like Komoot, make a note of the distance and elevation covered. This will help you to estimate the time needed to complete the route.  

Get ready and take a friend

If you’re new to walking, it’s always a great idea to take a friend with you. Funny conversations are the biggest benefit of doing this, but your friend (or group of friends) may also be a lifeline in the event of injuries on the path. And if you struggle with navigation, having another pair of eyes could help you get back on the right path quickly.

Ready to lace up your boots and get going?