Whether you’ve been walking in Britain for 50 years or you’ve just started, one thing no-one can escape is the rainy weather. I certainly didn’t while walking Wainwright’s Coast to Coast this year. On my first day, I was navigating in rain and fog so thick it was hard to see more than a few feet in front of my face. I arrived at my first accommodation red-faced and dripping onto the floorboards. My notebook and accommodation list were soaked through and I spent a sad night, drying them on the radiator. While it brightened up over the week, I ended my tour swimming through the North Yorkshire Moors. I spent much of that day thinking it wasn’t possible to get any wetter and being proven sorely wrong. Walking in the rain brings many challenges – from dangerous terrain to poor visibility for navigation. It can be hard to know exactly what the weather will be like on the highest peaks compared to the lower valleys. To ensure you’re more prepared than I was, here are my top tips for walking in wet weather.
1 - Equipment
Smiling in the rain!
Take your best waterproof jacket: whether it’s a lightweight mac or something more substantial, it’s essential to get the right waterproof jacket. If you’re going walking during the months with the heaviest rainfall, consider a jacket with taped seams to make it fully waterproof.
Water Proof Trousers and Gaiters: These two are essential items if you plan to walk through moorland, which can quickly turn bog-like in bad weather. Waterproof trousers with zips up the outside of the leg are particularly useful for taking on and off throughout the day.
Gloves: Protect your hands in the cold weather – you’ll need them to hold your map and compass (or just to turn the shower on at the end of a long day!). A good pair of gloves can make all the difference when walking, especially when using walking poles.
2 - Protecting your belongings
Cover those expensive essentials!
Before you leave: If you know that rain is on its way that day you can prepare for it.
- Place all non-essential items in your suitcase to be taken to your next accommodation by our baggage transfer partners. Rest assured they’ll arrive dry, even if you don’t!
- Place any essential electronics, such as GPS or phone equipped with Outdoor Active, in plastic zip lock bags and towards the centre of your day sack.
- Invest in a waterproof map holder and place maps, accommodation lists and notes inside it: Safe and see-through, it’s just practical.
While Walking: So, you forgot to check the local weather report and you’re walking head first into horizontal rain; what can you do?
- Place any electronics inside your waterproof jacket – hidden pockets on the inside offer more protection than the outward facing pockets.
- If you’ve got a plastic bag, place any papers or valuable items in it and tie it up tight inside your day bag. If the plastic bag is big enough, consider tying it around your whole day bag and keep everything dry.
3 - Alternative routes and your safety
If the path becomes a bit extreme, seek alternatives!
Had I been alone during my Coast to Coast walking holiday, I would have turned back many times. Walking solo or as a group changes how you respond to situations. Remember your safety is paramount, plan an alternative route each night and know where you’re headed. Here at Macs Adventure we also offer a 24-hour help and support line, to help you whenever you need assistance. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with your guidebook’s instructions as well as taking a moment to practice your compass and map reading skills. You may find one more helpful than the other depending on how bad the conditions get out there.