How to start Walking?
Walking is something to be enjoyed. It is not boring and not a hobby reserved for people of a certain age. At times it can involve hard work, especially when you head off into the hills, but generally you get more out of a walk than the effort you put in. Besides providing an interesting way to keep fit, you see Britain at its best with fascinating insights into the countryside, its wildlife, scenery and of course its weather.
Apart from good footwear and some waterproof clothing you need very little equipment to get started. At first you need nothing fancy, go for comfort and footwear with ankle support. If you decide walking is something that interests you, then investment in a good pair of hiking boots would make sense but not when you first start. Waterproof outerwear is essential especially in the British climate. Most of us have at least a basic waterproof and this should be fine until you venture out for longer walks or up into the hills.
When you have decided you enjoy walking and want to extend your "range" then read as much as you can about available products before making a purchase. Boots are perhaps the most essential item and comfort depends on the fit. Many people complain of blisters when they are walking. This is nearly always due to poor fitting boots or inappropriate socks. Remember comfort first - fashion second.
Start with short easy walks - perhaps two or three miles - over well marked routes. Setting out a ten mile circuit in the mountains is not for beginners and will probably frighten you off walking for good. Work your way up to something more adventurous perhaps increasing the walk length to five miles over easy terrain. From this base you can then build up your experience and set out on a high level route that requires more experience and greater fitness. Hundreds of walks are featured on this site but before choosing a walk check here for details of how walks are graded, perhaps starting with easy or easy/moderate grades.
When to go?
Walking is not just for sunny summer days. It is a year round activity that is often more pleasant in winter than in summer. Why get fit in summer only to let your fitness slip during winter? Why share the footpaths with crowds in summer when you can have them almost to yourself in winter? If venturing out in winter then do take care as clothing and footwear become more critical especially as you gain height above sea level.
Where to go?
Try walks in your local area first. They may not feature the best scenery or the most dramatic views but they provide a way of getting yourself fit for something more exciting. National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the British coast provide the best places to walk and form the basis for many walks to suit all abilities and fitness levels.
How are the walks are graded?
Check the following page - Walk Grades Described
Where to get more information?
Besides using the many resources on the Internet, there are numerous books devoted to walking and you can obtain descriptive routes from most Tourist Information Centres. Each month a number of magazines are published and these contain a variety of editorial content.
Do enjoy yourself when out walking and choose a route that is within your capabilities especially with regard to navigation.
Do turn back if the weather deteriorates especially in winter or when visibility is poor.
Do wear the right clothing for the anticipated weather conditions. If the weather is likely to change for the worse make sure you have enough extra clothing in your pack.
Do tell someone where you are planning to walk especially in areas that see few other walkers.
Do take maps and other navigational aids. Do not rely on mobile devices in areas where reception is poor. Take spare batteries especially in cold weather.
Do check the weather forecast before leaving. The Met Office has a number of forecasts for walkers that identify specific weather risks.
Please Note - These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that Walking Britain is not held responsible for the safety or well being of those following the routes as described. It is worth reiterating the point that you should embark on a walk with the correct maps preferably at 1:25000 scale. This will enable any difficulties with route finding to be assessed and corrective action taken if necessary.