Bright blue and sunny skies; crisp, frosty ground; trees painted in bright reds, oranges and yellows; and hills clad in velvety pink and purple heather. If fabulous scenery and tranquil walking routes appeal to you, then autumn is the season to pull on your walking boots.
While too many people put their walking kit to the back of the cupboard the minute that summer starts to fade, smart walkers actually keep on walking! Whether you’re a family with young children, a happy hill hiker or a mountaineer, some of the most rewarding outdoor experiences in the UK take place in the autumn (and winter).
Being outdoors during the darker, chillier season is also good for your health and well-being. While walking in general is a great way to stay in shape and burn calories, it is also brilliant for boosting your feel-good hormones. Walking increases serotonin levels, which can help to prevent depression and the traditional autumn and winter blues.
So why do so many people hang up their walking boots once summer is over, and wait until the warmer days of spring-time? Gordon Peter, a walks leader with the Ramblers, believes that some walkers think that walking in autumn and winter are more hazardous. He says: “There is this idea that the hills and routes are safer in the summer months because the weather is better but as we all know UK weather can be very changeable whatever the time of year.
“In fact, I have found that autumn is by far the better season for dry days with bright blue skies, and it’s a time when the weather is easier to predict from one day to the next.”
Although often bright and beautiful, the days can be chillier and shorter in autumn so it’s important to be prepared when out walking.
What to wear: Make sure you utilise the clothing layer system for maximum body warmth. Wear a good quality waterproof jacket and robust, well-fitting walking boots, and pack extra clothing items in your rucksack, such as waterproof trousers, gloves, hat, fleece jumper or jacket and spare socks.
Be prepared to navigate: It is important that you can use a map and compass whatever the time of year, but if you are caught out in autumn by sudden fog or nightfall, navigation is particularly important.
Plan carefully: Check the weather forecast. Start out earlier in the day if you will be walking a long way, taking into account earlier sunsets. Always tell someone where you’ll be walking and an approximate return time. And know how to contact the Mountain Rescue should an emergency arise.
Pack a rucksack: Make sure you take a head torch, map and compass (and know how to use them), mobile phone , GPS gadget and small first aid kit, as well as snacks and water.