Walks in the Wet are fun
Despite the papers trying to drum up some interest in the weather and the Met Office colour coded new warning system putting us all on red alert for some kind of apocalypse it is increasingly looking like this is going to be a typical British winter; wet, windy, not too cold with snow on the Scottish hills and, periodically, on those in the rest of Britain. Last year (at least after Christmas) was exceptional, snow blanketing the country and making for some superb winter walking, the like of which many of us have never seen before.
This winter be prepared for a good soaking when planning a walk. If, like most of us, you cannot pick your day where the weather is looking at its best then there is every chance that you will get wet. However, do not despair and certainly do not ‘avoid’ going out, walking in wet weather can be great fun and highly rewarding. One of my favourite ever days was walking the Munros north of Ben Alder (above the Culra Bothy) when, having endured hours of unrelenting rain, the clouds parted and the most spectacular views over the Mamores, Grey Corries and the Ben were superbly laid out in front of me. I sat on the last peak for a good half hour savouring this ‘unexpected’ view, relecting dramatically the highs and lows of many walks.
Admittedly the above is the wow factor for wet weather walking and more often the day is just damp. Even then the satisfaction of just being out and feeling you have achieved something should be enough to get off the sofa and head off. Certainly you will feel better for it. If you have a dog of course none of this applies to you anyway – you have to head out or face far too much guilt!
Walking in the wet is certainly better than not walking at all but there are a few tips which will make the whole experience much more enjoyable. I have listed 10 below:
1. Check the weather forecast. There is every chance that the weather will be more benign either morning or afternoon so adapt your day accordingly
2. Keep to lower levels. There is little point in aiming high when the clouds are down. Not only will it be wetter higher up and there will be no views there is sure to be a strong and gusty wind blowing any rain in to all your exposed parts.
3. Visit a waterfall or walk close to a river. I love watching water in spate, it is a dramatic sight and gives a real purpose to a walk – something unusual and a real benefit of wet weather walking. 3 of my favourites are on the home page but even the smallest stream can look spectacular.
4. Keep the walk relatively short as continual rain can become a little demoralising as the damp starts to seep in. Short though does not mean 20 minutes, just a little shorter than what you may have done.
5. Use waterproof maps. The O/S Active ones are excellent and despite costing a little more are well worth it and will give you a saving in the long run. Whilst on covering for maps I am very much against those map covers that hang round your neck, they may be accessible and keep your map dry but they are exceptionally annoying in any kind of wind and can be dangerous when flapping round your face. You look a bit of a ninny as well!
6. Try and stick to better formed paths and by this I mean ones with a more rock/stone base. Grassy paths can become slippy and tiresome after heavy rain, particularly when previous walkers have churned it up in to a mud slide. If you do not know the area just look for what you believe will be the best and most used paths and the chances are they will have some kind of rock or stone base.
7. Boots, my favourite subject but in this case make sure they are recently waterproofed and any leaks dealt with. Wet feet after 5 minutes is not good!
8. Rest of your gear. Clearly a waterproof jacket is beneficial, particularly with a hood. I actually wear a peaked cap under the hood of a jacket as whatever the manufacturers say I find the hoods annoying in the extreme and always in the way. A peaked cap keeps the rain off your face and holds the jacket hood in place. Have a look at my personal Gear Section.
9. Forestry Walking. For obvious reasons forests are great places to walk in the wet as the forest keeps the rain off. Here are some of the best:
- Gisburn Forest near Skipton
- Grizedale Forest in the Southern Lakes
- Dalby Forest in the North York Moors
10. Finish in a nice pub or cafe. Apart from being a great incentive during the walk these wonderful places are at their best when you walk in wet, bedraggled and a little cold.
Of course walking in bad weather is never as bad as the thought of it, we are indoctrinated into believing that we should not venture out in the rain. However prepare your self properly it can be great fun….as all walking is.
PS: If it looks like proper snow is on the way have a look at this blog I did last year.
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