Top 10 Hill Walking Tips for Enjoyable Adventures

As a keen hiker and qualified Mountain Leader, I often get asked for advice on how to enjoy a safe day out in the mountains. Hill walking offers an incredible opportunity to connect with nature, explore stunning landscapes, and challenge yourself both mentally and physically. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, these are my top ten hill walking tips, tailored for those exploring the UK’s hills, to ensure your next journey is safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.

1. Navigation Skills

Navigation skills, though acquired over time, are invaluable for hill walkers. Understanding map reading and compass usage, obtained both through self-practice and training workshops like the National Navigation Award Scheme, is essential. While GPS devices and smartphone apps are useful tools, they do not replace traditional navigation skills. In case of electronic failures or other emergencies, knowing how to navigate without technology boosts confidence and ensures safety on the mountain.

2. Hiking with a Group

Hiking with others can enhance safety and enjoyment. It’s easier to navigate unfamiliar terrain and respond to the unexpected when you have companions. Sites like The Ramblers and Meetup can help find hiking groups in a given area, making it easier to connect with like-minded adventurers.

When hiking in a group, take a moment to discuss who is carrying what equipment before setting out – both to maximise weight efficiency but also to check at least one person has essential items like a first aid kit.

3. Follow Leave No Trace Principles

Responsible outdoor ethics, such as Leave No Trace, are critical for preserving our landscapes. Adhering to these principles includes packing out all rubbish, respecting sensitive vegetation, being considerate to others, and sticking to established trails. Learning more about these principles on the Leave No Trace website is a great idea.

4. Research Your Route

Before embarking on a hill walking trip, careful planning is essential. Comprehensive map study, guidebook research, and utilizing online resources help understand terrain, trail complexities, and potential hazards. The Ordnance Survey website serves as a valuable resource for topographic maps and route planning. It’s worth noting that for those browsing from the United Kingdom, Bing Maps offers free access to OS mapping simply by changing the map type to ‘Ordnance Survey.’ Always check land access regulations and rights for the route.

Checking the UK Met Office Mountain Forecast for reliable weather updates is crucial, given the UK’s unpredictable weather, especially in the mountains. There are a number of great specialist weather resources online, including the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS) and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).

5. Check Your Gear

Ensuring appropriate gear is essential for UK hill walking. Investing in high-quality, waterproof hiking boots, like those from La Sportiva or Scarpa, is vital, as the weather can change suddenly. Layering clothing with moisture-wicking base layers and wearing a reliable waterproof jacket is key. It’s crucial to avoid cotton, as it retains moisture and dries slowly.

Inspecting and testing equipment before departing for a hike is important to avoid issues on the trail. Regular equipment maintenance after each hike ensures readiness for future adventures.

6. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital, even in milder climates. Carrying an adequate water supply and extra for emergencies or fellow hikers is advisable. Hydration reservoirs and filtration systems are an option for replenishing water from streams, reducing the need to carry excessive water. Thorough route research is necessary to ensure water sources are available along the way if using a filtration system.

Regular water consumption prevents dehydration, fatigue, and poor decision-making. With experience it becomes possible to tailor the amount of water carried based on the weather and route.

7. Take Adequate Breaks

As a physically demanding activity, hill walking necessitates adequate breaks. Planning stops around picturesque viewpoints or water sources, along with maintaining energy through snacks like flapjacks, Kendal Mint Cake, or dried fruit, ensures a successful hiking experience.

For full-day hikes, considering the macronutrients in the carried food is crucial. Combining protein and carbohydrates in meals ensures a prolonged feeling of fullness and increased energy, reducing the time spent eating. Aim for around 15 grams of protein for every 30 grams of carbohydrate in each meal or snack on the trail.

8. Be Prepared for Changing Weather

The UK’s variable weather is well-known, and adequate preparation is vital. Layered clothing and additional rain gear, along with extra food, warm headgear, and gloves, ensure readiness for changing weather conditions. In unsettled conditions, monitoring the hourly weather forecast while underway (when cellular signal is available) is a good idea. Planning ‘escape routes’ in case of unfavourable conditions is a prudent approach.

9. Leave a Plan

Informing a trusted individual of hiking plans, sharing the route, timeline, and contact information, and establishing a check-in or emergency plan is essential. Agreeing on a ‘cut-off time’ for raising an alarm if contact is lost is an important safety measure, especially for those hiking alone.

10. Practice Safety First

Safety always takes precedence. Being willing to turn back when conditions worsen or group members feel uncomfortable is key. Trusting one’s instincts and prioritizing safety over summiting ensures a secure hiking experience.


Hill walking in the United Kingdom offers a remarkable adventure, enriched by thorough preparation, respect for the environment, and a focus on safety. These hill walking tips, tailored for those exploring the UK’s hills, provide a foundation for enjoyable, safe, and unforgettable journeys. Being prepared, well-informed, and embracing the breathtaking natural beauty of the British countryside with confidence and responsibility ensures a fulfilling hiking experience. Happy hiking!

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