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Tips For Preparing For Your First Hike Of The Season

The spring season has arrived even in the most northerly parts of the country, and that makes for some ideal mountain walking conditions. While the snow and ice may not have melted from the very highest peaks, the longer days and more clement weather will be tempting more of us to get in the first walk of the year.

If you are feeling a bit out of practice after the winter, or are considering taking up mountain walking for the first time this spring, here are some tips to help you make the most of it. A little planning and preparation can go a long way to ensure that your experience is a safe and enjoyable one, so it’s well worth the effort.

Plan your route

When selecting a route for your hike, it’s important to take into account the length, difficulty level, and appropriateness for the time of year and weather conditions. You also need to consider the logistics of getting to your setting off point, and if you are doing a non-circular route, how you will return home.

Some of this will boil down to your level of physical fitness and previous experience, and that of the other members of your party. There are plenty of online guides available that provide detailed information about elevations, scrambling or rock climbing sections, and estimated time scales in relation to terrain and distance.

Allow yourself at least half an hour's wriggle room at the end of the walk to give you enough time to descend the mountain in full daylight.

Getting physically prepared for a hike

If you have not been particularly physically active over the winter, then you will feel more confident and reduce your chance of injuries by building up to your hike with a fitness programme. Ideally, start increasing your exercise levels over three or four weeks beforehand.

Not everyone has the time for regular long walks, but even a short 10 minute walk at lunchtime can soon start to make a difference. Some cardio workouts, such as running, swimming, or cycling, will also help to give you the stamina for those steeper sections.

Strengthening work is important as well, to help you carry a loaded backpack more comfortably and to improve your balance on uneven surfaces. Lunges, squats, push ups and crunches are all excellent ways to help you build muscle.

Prepare your kit

Having the right kit is essential to a comfortable and safe hiking experience. You should have a sturdy pair of hiking boots with good soles. If they are new, wear them in beforehand to make sure that you don’t end up with debilitating blisters on the walk.

Other essential items include waterproofs and some spare warm dry clothing, as at this time of year the weather can quickly change at higher altitudes. Water, plenty of food, a torch, first aid kit, navigation tools and a fully charged mobile phone are all must-have items to bring along.

If you would like some information about Ben Nevis climbing routes, please get in touch today.

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