Temperatures have dropped, the wind has picked up and rain is dampening your spirits. But why scowl when winter arrives? Instead you could be grinning from ear to ear. Follow our top tips for positive thinking and practical measures. That way you’ll still be able to enjoy your favourite outdoor pursuits through the next six months. (The alternative is your slippers, piling on the pounds and a very dull winter instead. Who could stand that?)
Winterise your kit
Alfred Wainwright, of the English Wainwright hills, once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
The most important tip for winter walking is to be prepared for the weather by wearing the right clothes. Not only will this improve comfort but it will also keep you warm and safe.
If it’s wet outside make sure you have full waterproofs (jacket and trousers). Add baselayers and a mid-layer jacket for the cold. Take a lightweight down jacket with you, as well as an emergency survival blanket or bivi bag/tent.
Wear three or four season boots for warmth and grip and if you are going high, pack crampons and ice axes.
Accessories are vital, including hat, gloves (and spares) and winter walking socks.
Also take lots of food, snacks and water with you for energy and hydration.
Take a friend
There is no getting away from the fact that walking in winter brings hazards. Some people do risk a solo outing but it makes a lot more sense to walk with someone else, just in case the worst happens.
Additionally, a walk with a friend, or two, is usually so much more enjoyable.
If the weather is awful, be prepared to change your plans. There is no point in stubbornly sticking to Plan A if that means you’ll face gale force winds for much of the outing.
If it’s very windy, change your walk to a lower route. If it’s torrential rain, choose a shorter route. If it’s truly terrible, change the date.
Take extra care
Winter often brings testing situations, such as snow and ice, swollen rivers, mud and wet, slippery rocks. Make sure you do not take chances with these conditions and only go where you know you can be safe.
It is a good idea to book into an avalanche awareness course and know what to look out for to avoid winter walking dangers.
Don’t be secretive
Always tell someone else where you will be walking and what your estimated time of arrival home will be.Making a snow angel on a Scottish mountain.
Enjoy winter walking
Now go out and enjoy the wonders of winter. Walking in winter brings so many rewards, such as beautiful, snow-covered scenery, new challenges and that great feeling you get when everyone else has stayed home eating chocolate yet you have been burning up the calories and enjoying yourself on a fabulous winter walk.