Hiking is a great way to stay in shape, experience some incredible sights, and immerse yourself in stunning unspoilt landscapes that are just waiting to be discovered.
If you’ve never done much hiking, though, it can seem a little daunting to even begin. Here are some of our hiking tips and tricks for beginners, to ensure that you get off to a smooth start.
Don’t push yourself too hard
It’s tempting to get started on hiking by doing something big – walking some lengthy route or ascending a looming mountain, for example – but it’s always best to start small and get some idea of what you’re comfortable with before you get too ambitious.
If you don’t exercise a lot, regular smaller hikes will help you work your way up to attempting longer ones. And even if you do make a habit of frequent walks, remember that climbing a hill or mountain or making your way through a wilder setting is more strenuous than a casual stroll to the shops.
Going too far too fast could lead to you putting yourself at risk or getting hurt, or at the very least putting yourself off hiking as a hobby, so find out where your limits are and build your fitness up slowly before tackling tougher hikes.
Get the right equipment
For casual walks in the countryside, you probably wear your everyday clothes, but if you’re looking to get a little more serious about hiking it’s likely they won’t quite cut it. Pick up a proper pair of walking shoes to wear – your feet will thank you!
It’s not just shoes you need to think about if you want to get into hiking as a hobby. Depending on how far you want to go with it, there’s other equipment to consider too. A water bottle is essential, of course, and snacks are handy for energy boosts on a longer hike.
You’ll also want to be prepared for all weathers with warm and waterproof clothing. Ideally bring multiple thin layers so you can adjust based on the exact conditions – you don’t want your waterproof jacket to be built for arctic conditions if you’re trying to make your way through a downpour on a humid summer’s day.
Being ready for sunnier days is also recommended, so pack a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen when required. And just to ensure your safety, it’s also a good idea to bring along a first aid kit, as well as a map of the area in a waterproof container for more complicated routes.
It’s tempting to think that setting out on a hike is a matter of simply getting out and hitting the trail, but there’s some preparation you should always do ahead of time.
Firstly, it might seem obvious but, particularly on more ambitious treks, you should check your route, make a note of anything to look out for along the way, and consider how long it’s likely to take you. Relatedly, it’s a good idea to find out when the sun will set, and give yourself plenty of time to get back before then – you don’t want to be left stumbling around in the dark, particularly if you’re somewhere remote.
Always check the weather, too, so you’re prepared for any eventuality in terms of clothing and equipment. Remember that weather conditions that might be a mild nuisance in everyday life, such as heavy rain, fog, or snow, can be a much bigger deal when you’re hill-walking or trying to get down a mountain.
And finally, for safety purposes it’s a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Having someone to check up on you is an invaluable fallback if something goes wrong along the way.
Hiking holidays in the UK
A great way to enjoy some unforgettable hikes is to enjoy a walking holiday in the UK. There are some spectacular national parks to explore – take a look at our selection of camping and caravan sites in and around the Peak District, Snowdonia, and the Cairngorms.