Plan a walk correctly and the enjoyment is increased tenfold. Planning a walk does not need to be a strict military process that it often becomes but a task that is enjoyable, inclusive and can be done in harmony. All you need to do is spread a map out on the floor and, if you can relate the map to the what is outside, be the person who plans it.
It is disheartening to hear people say that they cannot read a map, that their (usually male) spouse insists on doing it and that they would not know where to start. Anyone can read a map given enough time and experience, open your eyes next time you are out walking, take a map and soon it will become alive. It is so much more fun. Have you ever tried?
So what are the stages in planning a walk
When I was putting together Where2walk one of my guiding principles was to use the pages on individual walks as an informative list of the best walks in an area and NOT a route by route guide book. To me there is nothing worse than seeing people out on the fell with a guidebook in hand, solemnly following an instruction to walk 110 metres to a gate where they are told to turn left, walk another 55 ms…… Aside from the impracticality of this , it severely curtails the enjoyment of the walk. For a start you are looking at the book too much instead of what is around you and in addition it is potentially dangerous. Ask yourself what would happen if, for whatever reason, you lost the book and then had to find your way back. You may not lose the book but you could make a mistake, the guidebook may have an error. One simple error and the book is useless. What you need to do is be able to rely on the landscape around you.
At Where2walk the individual walks are described using just the key factors. There is information on where to start, what the terrain will be like, a map showing basic detail, a length and of course where to have a pint afterwards. It will not offer a step by step guide to each walk. Finally and most importantly it offers a variety of good quality photos as well as my very personal description which is intended to provide character and an understanding to the walk and who it may suit. Hopefully it is also a good read. Click here for a typical example of an individual walk
The only guide books I have ever taken on to the fells are the splendid Wainwright guides of the Lakeland Fells but not any more, now I enjoy them only as a good read indoors. However I always have a map (and if the walk is likely or even possibly going to be in bad visibility, a compass)
Despite everything I have already said many will still claim that they cannot use a map properly, they just cannot read it. If a map is properly explained to someone (usually by a person with more experience) then I would strongly argue that, with a little practice, it will all become increasingly clearer. The key things to understand on a map are
Risk & Reality. How a guide can balance the need of enjoyment with safety
The Joy of Maps. A look at what a map can show you about the land you are walking in
Please, some proper snow . Photos of proper snow conditions in the Dales
Christmas Gifts for walkers (not socks) . Mugs , photos and maps for sale
My favourite Walking Books . These are my choices but what are yours
Walking Challenges. Each person has there own walking challenges, here are mine
Volunteers run the show. How they help keep the National Parks alive and well
Hats & Cairns. The satisfactions of climbing a good sized hill
10 Dales Favourites. Some of the most popular walks in the Yorkshire Dales
10 Lakeland Classics. A list of my favourite 10 full day walks in the Lake District
Walking Holidays. Choose a walking holiday in the Lakes or the Dales, many choices.
Buses & Trains . Save on cost and hassle by looking at the Buses and Train options
Why go walking? Many good reasons to get off your backside and get out and about
Fell Top Assessors. What do they do and how are they funded
Windfarms – simply no need. As wind farms continue to be built why are we doing it?
Inspired by Autumn Watch? Some photography of animals in the countryside and the pleasures of limestone walking
Extending the National Parks. Views and news on the decision to extend the national parks of the Lakes & Dales
Using a map to navigate. Why using a map and compass adds so much to a good walk.
Walks for the family. How to educate your children to enjoy the great outdoors.
Away from the Crowds. Some tips and suggestions on where to still find peace and solitude when many walks are crowded out.
My favourite villages in the Dales. The villages in the Yorkshire Dales which are extra special.
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