Adventurer and hiker extraordinaire James Forrest offers his eight best tips to elevate your next hiking holiday.
Long gone are the days when hiking was the preserve of geeky, middle-aged, anorak-wearing ramblers.
Hiking is now on-trend, with a growing fan base of millennials.
Why? Because countryside walking offers fresh air, big views, escapism, nature, exercise and amazing mental health benefits – the perfect antidote to the stresses of tech-centric, modern life.
1. Don’t get lost
With an annual subscription, you can plot routes, download offline maps and pinpoint your location – it’s like Google Maps for the countryside.
2. Avoid blisters
“The key to enjoyable hiking is comfortable footwear,” says Chris Townsend, author of no less than 20 hiking books.
“If your feet hurt, you’ll hate it,” he adds.
Carefully choose a pair that’s comfy, waterproof, sturdy and grippy – and combine with hard-wearing, cushioned hiking socks.
3. Travel light
You should always carry food, water, warm layers, waterproofs, maps and phone – but leave the kitchen sink at home.
Keeping your rucksack lightweight will stave off back ache and enable you to power up that peak faster.
4. Be realistic
Set achievable goals and slowly increase the intensity of your hikes.
As Townsend explains, “Don’t over-commit. Get to know your walking speed and reasonable daily distance. It’s better to feel you could have done more, than to crawl home exhausted.”
Hiking accessories and gadgets can be incredibly useful.
Walking poles, for example, aid your balance and reduce strain on joints, while water filters such as the LifeStraw Go make drinking out of streams safe and 20,000mAh power banks keep your phone juiced up all day.
6. Sleep wild
Maximise the adventure with a magical night of wild camping.
Outdoors writer Alex Roddie explains, “There’s nothing like witnessing a sunset or sunrise from a tent high on a mountain ridge – it reveals a side of the great outdoors that most hikers never see.”
7. Become a peak-bagger
Don’t just climb Snowdon repeatedly. Variety is the spice of life and the UK has thousands of amazing peaks.
Why not tick off all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District or the 282 Munro mountains of Scotland?
8. Go long or go home
Day hikes are great, but for added excitement take on a long-distance walk like the West Highland Way or Coast to Coast.
“For maximum fun factor, join hikes and camps together to plot a long-distance walk across the countryside,” suggests writer Alex Roddie.