Winter can be a wonderful time to walk in the Peak District, with crisp, frosty mornings, winter sunshine, and even a sprinkling of snow can add a new dimension to a walk.
There are a few simple considerations that will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. These relate to winter countryside walking at low levels, not winter mountain walking in snow which requires specialist technical equipment and skills.
1. Keep yourself warm and dry. It might sound obvious, but the English weather can change very quickly and can easily catch walkers out. It is therefore important that you carry a few spare layers of warm clothing such as fleeces, hats and gloves to put on if it suddenly becomes colder. Lots of thin layers are much better than one thick layer. Extra clothing is also useful to put on when you stop for a break or a sit down to enjoy a packed lunch or snack. Avoid cotton as an underlayer as it has a severe chilling effect if it becomes wet or damp. As rain is often a possibility, spare clothing should always be carried in a waterproof bag and waterproof clothing should also be carried or worn.
2. Footwear is one of the most important aspects of any walker’s kit. Unsuitable footwear isn’t only uncomfortable, it can also lead to injuries. Your walking boots should be strong, comfortable, waterproof, and have good grip to avoid slipping.
3. Take more food, snacks and drink than you think you will need. Your body burns off more calories when it is cold and it is always good to have some emergency food in case you get delayed on your walk for any reason.
4. Plan your route in advance and tell someone where you are going. That way if you are unfortunate enough to have a problem on your walk and are unable to finish, someone will know the right area in which to instigate a search for you.
5. Ensure that your navigation skills are good enough to find your way around your chosen route if the visibility deteriorates. If for example cloud comes down on featureless moorland, or if it goes dark early it is essential that you have a good map and compass, and that you are skilled in their use. Don’t rely on GSP devices - they have been known to fail! If you have any doubts as to whether your navigation skills are up to scratch, then walk with other competent navigators, maybe by taking a professionally guided walk, or by joining a walking club.
6. Take a torch and spare batteries. They will be invaluable if your walk takes longer than anticipated and you have to finish in the dark. Head torches are ideal for walking.
7. Check weather forecasts before you go. If heavy rain, snow or high winds are forecast, you may wish to re-consider your plans.
8. Emergency survival bags are a cheap and cheerful way to get out of stormy weather fast. If there is more than one of you on a walk, consider investing in an emergency shelter. These are a bit like a tent without poles and are an excellent way of temporarily sheltering from the elements.
9. Be visible, particularly when walking on country lanes. Fluorescent tabards, or sashes are cheap and lightweight to carry but can make a huge difference to your visibility to motorists.
10. Enjoy the walk! The Peak District has some of the best scenery in England and the landscapes constantly change with the seasons. Maybe take your camera along and record some stunning images.
This blog was brought to you by Peak Walking Adventures