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Want to know how to hike up mountains?  Here is my beginners guide to making it happen.

For the next 8 weeks I will be posting about my exploration into the world of mountain leader training. 

To qualify for the UK Mountain Leaders Scheme you need to have hiked to the top of at least 20 UK mountain peaks.

This is my journey from complete novice walker to mountain leader ready.  


Want more info on how to hike up mountains, become confident and inspired by nature?  Subscribe here for updates.

If you want to know more about my motivation and what got me to this point, you can read about it here.

PART ONE:  Gaining Confidence

Here is my step-by-step advice for preparing for your first ever hikes in the mountains.

Too often, people go in to the mountains ill-prepared and get into trouble they didn’t realise existed. It may just seem like walking, but you can fall on unstable terrain, lose sight of the path or get caught out with sudden changes in weather – below is the minimum everyone should do before venturing into the mountains.

Get informed

Research on the web, buy a guide book, and an Ordnance Survey (1:25,000) or Harvey (1:40,000) map for the area you want to visit and choose a route you want to try making sure you have as much information as is available on what the route is like underfoot, distance and difficulty.

Start small

Choose a well marked route that is within your capabilities.  How far do you walk now?  And to what height?  Multiple your current activity by no more than 3.  i.e. you usually walk 1 hour around a city.  Choose a hike of 3hrs and approximately 300m vertical. 

It’s much better to complete a small easy walk first and build up your confidence than experience failure first try.

Don’t go alone

At least in the beginning.

Lucky for me my adventure experienced hubby was able to join me on my first 2 hikes. 

Hiking with someone else takes the pressure off a little bit and gives you another person as a sounding board for any concerns or worry’s you have.

If you can’t find anyone to go with you, here are some resources to help you on your way:

Tom has the most amazing knowledge about everything to do with the mountains. From history, to weather and flora and fauna, his laid back, friendly style makes you feel totally at ease and perhaps attempt things you wouldn’t by yourself.

If you are considering any of the Mountain Training Association courses, look no further than Phill George.

Phill is an International Mountain Guide (IFMGA) who decided to leave the insanity of the big mountains behind to focus on training the next generation in how to stay safe and enjoy the mountains.

I learnt SO much with Phill. I went into the course feeling at a disadvantage to everyone else who had spent years in the hills and Phill always made me feel at ease, confident and like I belonged!

Learn to read a map

Developing the skill of map reading and knowing where you are in the mountains, takes time and practice.  Don’t expect to get it right first time.

The better you become, the more confident you will be in the mountains.

Carry your guidebook and map in an easily accessible place and follow your route as much as possible. 

Keep your thumb on the point you are at and move it along the trail as you go.

You can compare your position on the map to the offline maps on OS Maps Viewranger apps but don’t rely on this – there is often no phone signal in the mountains.

Be prepared

Make sure you have the right basic kit and know how to use it.  It doesn’t have to be the newest, most expensive, or best, just find something the works and get walking!

Free (downloadable) packing list with links to the products I use available here.

The links are to the products I have/use. These are not affiliate links. I don’t recieve anything for you clicking on the link – I just know its nice to see what other people use.

All the products I use have either been bought on sale (saving waste) or are in support of brands that have a good environmental ethos or repair/returns policy.

If you buy a piece of kit and it breaks in less than 12 months – ALWAYS contact the brand – the only way they can improve their products is if they know how they fail.

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