Hillwalking is a wonderful recreational activity but there are some risks attached.
These risks fall into three categories: weather conditions, the lay of the land and remoteness. The higher up you are, the colder it gets, at a ratio of roughly 1 degree Celsius/ 100 metres. The wind speeds often increase as you ascend, and it gets rainier and mistier too. The weather can turn in a flash at higher altitudes. So newcomers to the hills need to be aware of the dangers and act accordingly.
Try to leave word with a responsible person as to where you will be walking and at what time you expect to be back by.
If you have a mobile phone, take it with you. It could be the difference between getting home safely and being stranded up a freezing hill overnight. However, you should never rely on being able to use a mobile phone in the hills, and avoid doing anything that you wouldn’t do if you didn’t have the phone with you.
If you have a serious accident, call the emergency services and ask for Mountain Rescue. If you have no phone reception, or no mobile phone at all, The universally recognised distress signal is six blasts on a whistle or flashes of a light at one-minute intervals.
Join a walking club that offers training in mountain skills for its members, or go on an officially-endorsed mountaineering course.
This will make you more confident, and safer, when you go out hillwalking.
Make sure that you will be finished long before it gets dark. Never walk alone in the hills unless there are lots of walkers near you Being stranded up a hill in bad weather can cause people to panic, and make bad decisions regarding their safety. Wear sturdy boots that support the ankles. Your ankles will bend a lot as you go over different types of terrain, and you don’t want them to bend too far.
Wear suitable clothes, and take some replacement clothes in case you get drenched. Jeans get wet quickly and dry slowly, which is less than ideal. A waterproof jacket and overtrousers, headgear and gloves are essential, even if you are not anticipating rain.
It is important to know where you are in the hills at all times. Take a waterproof 1:50,000 scale map and compass and note your location frequently.
It may sound obvious, but look where you are going, as there are plenty of things to trip, slip, or twist your ankle on amidst the mixed terrain of the hills. Be particularly careful when descending steep ground and near water.
Always take out insurance cover when going on trips that involve an element of risk – including domestic holidays. Have a look at the Go Travel Insurance website to find out more about cheap holiday insurance.