Advice for Walkers
Stay safe and enjoy your walks
The suggestions and advice for walkers I offer here are strictly my own opinions and I'm happy to pass them on to others. First and foremost though, please do not think I'm setting myself up as an expert on the subject. Far from it - I'm just a learner! I hope you will take them (or reject them) in the spirit they are offered. The conclusions I've reached; the choice of gear that I've bought and use, are the result of my own personal experiences plus advice for walkers that has been offered by others whose opinions I rate highly.
A couple of years ago my son Dave, out of the blue, asked if I would like to walk with him to the top of Ingleborough (one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks). Given my sedentary nature, my first reaction was to tell him not to be so daft!
However, after a little bit of thought, the idea began to appeal. It seemed to take a hold on my imagination. I started to reject the absolute fact that anyone as lazy as me had no chance of succeeding in such an attempt.
That first attempt to reach the summit of Ingleborough proved to be an abysmal failure on my part. The weather was hot with a hazy sun. Being summer the haze tended to raise the temperature and hold the heat in. It became quite oppressive and quickly drained my energy. The going became quite steep after passing "Gaping Gyll" and I was forced to stop and rest ever more frequently. Eventually it became clear it just was not going to happen. The climb had me beat! Dave was very understanding and agreed we should turn back. Secretly, I think he didn't fancy calling out the rescue helicopter to get his collapsed dad off the mountain.
Surprisingly, despite my usual philosophy of "If at first you don't succeed - give up!", the experience spurred me on. The decision was made to get fit and try again.
That taught me to assess the task in hand. Don't assume that a walk up a mountain (and in this instance it is a walk - it's a footpath with steps in places) can be the same as a walk along a canal towpath. Obvious, I know! But really, I guess I'd thought "How different can it be?"
I learnt another important lesson on that walk - the importance of really good waterproof clothing.
At this point you may be thinking "Hang on! You said it was a hot summer's day? Where do waterproofs come into this?".
Well - yes it was. But on the way back down, just after passing "Gaping Gyll" we began to hear rumbles of thunder behind us. Looking back over our shoulders, we saw clouds building over Ingleborough's summit. They were hot in pursuit. Our walking pace increased but the clouds were outrunning us. Just as the first salvo of heavy rain drops hit, we stopped to pull on overtrousers and jackets.
Back on the trail, the temperature plummeted and a torrent of water fell from the sky, drenching me almost immediately. Quite suddenly the reason for the temperature drop became clear. Huge hailstones bombarded our heads - ouch, they really hurt! The downpour lasted about twenty minutes. But in moments I was soaked through to the skin.
"At least my boots are waterproof!" I joked to Dave. It didn't take long though, for the water in my drenched overtrousers, and trousers beneath, to cascade into them. They may be waterproof from the outside. But my feet were very quickly swimming in the surprisingly cold water filling my boots. Beginning to shiver with cold and feeling totally bedraggled I squelched back into Clapham (where we had started our walk) just as the sun reappeared from behind the thunderclouds speeding their way indifferently towards the Irish Sea.
Luckily, I had had the sense to bring a complete change of clothes - and a towel. The drenching meant I had to change everything - and I mean everything!
I was amazed to see that when Dave took off his jacket and overtrousers, he was completely dry. Even his socks, when he changed out of his boots, were dry!
My jacket and overtrousers were designed to be shower proof and had been fine for short walks or going to and from work. But when they really needed to keep out the water they failed me miserably. I got to thinking how it might have been had the sun not come out again. If it had been spring or autumn with lower temperatures I would have quickly become very cold indeed. Had we been further away from shelter it may well have been much more serious than just a drenching.
This is not to deter anyone from getting out onto the hillsides. It illustrates an important lesson learnt. More - it is a heartfelt recommendation. Invest in good quality, guaranteed waterproof, outdoor gear. Spend as much as you can afford. In this case you mostly do, get what you pay for.
I've made a list of the gear that I've found to be good for me. Clothing of any kind is, of course, a very personal choice - these work for me.
- Jacket - I chose a Berghaus lighweight jacket because
- Berghaus is a well-respected name amongst outdoor folk
- It is made with Goretex material - guaranteed waterproof and windproof but breathable
- It has a useful, adjustable hood
- It folds into a small stuffing bag and is light to carry in my rucksack on warm days
- Trousers or Overtrousers - I chose Regatta waterproof trousers because
- Regatta is a well known brand
- They are guaranteed waterproof
- They are lined, with pockets, and can be worn instead of ordinary trousers
- Gaiters - These are waterproof and designed to bridge the gap between trousers and boots.
- They protect the trouser bottoms from mud
- Because they fit over the boots, they channel water onto the outside of the boots - not inside to fill them up
- Walking Boots or Shoes - I chose a pair of Scarpa Terra GTX leather boots because
- Scarpa is a well-respected name amongst outdoor folk
- They have a Goretex lining - to keep my feet dry
- They are very light in weight
- They fit very comfortably due to being formed on a last (a foot shaped model)
Relaxing in a country pub, enjoying an after-walk drink with son Dave, and Hendrick (one of his pals), the conversation turned to walking gear they would take with them on a day walk. We had just finished a walk around Buckden in Wharfedale and I asked them what advice for walkers they could offer.
Sunshine and a light breeze had been our companions. It was difficult for me to imagine the need for more than just the light tee shirt and shorts we had stripped down to as we climbed the hillside. Well, I was wrong. To see the list they put together, plus twelve tips to help you enjoy a day walk click the link. Essential Walking Gear
I hope you find the advice for walkers on these pages useful. As I learn more from future adventures, the lessons learned will be added. I'm sure this growing store of advice for walkers will help you enjoy your walks in Yorkshire and elsewhere.
Incidentally, I recently needed to replace my old walking boots and found a really comfortable pair at OutdoorGear's web site. My new boots are a well-respected make (Scarpa), very well made and so comfortable. They came with a very competitive price tag and I got great service. If you need new gear click the link here and take a look. You won't be disappointed. OutdoorGear UK
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