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How to Really Enjoy Hiking

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 16 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Hiking Walking Weather Flat Walks Fit

When you start hiking, it can seem strange, putting on special boots and clothing, strapping on a backpack and making sure you have everything you need for what’s really a walk in the country.

Of course, there’s a reason for it, as you’ll discover if you’re caught in the rain or walking through a muddy or boggy area – at that point anything that keeps you dry (or at least drier) is welcome.

But in the early days, how can you really enjoy hiking, rather than just seem exhausted after a few miles and wishing you’d never started?

Winning Hiking Strategies

When you start hiking, the chances are that you’ll be fairly unfit. Even if you walk a few miles a couple of times a week, it will be on pavements, not rough tracks. That means you need to make some adjustments and increase your fitness level.

So, assuming you go hiking regularly – and that means every weekend, weather allowing – you should begin with flat walks. Even in hilly areas like the Peak District there are plenty of them, and if there are hills, they’re gentle. In bookshops you can find volumes listing walks, with some focusing on those which are flat.

Don’t try and push yourself too far at first. Between three and four miles is ample when you start out. It might not seem like a lot, but the idea is to enjoy yourself, not feel like you’re undergoing punishment. After a few walks of this length, as long as you don’t feel exhausted, you can increase the distance, but do it gradually.

Think About The Weather

The British weather is notoriously changeable, as we all know. When you’re just starting as a hiker, there’s little more discouraging than trudging through a downpour (it’s not really a pleasure when you’re more experienced, either!). Pay attention to the forecasts, and go out when it promises to be good – or at least not raining.

If that seems like being a fair weather walker – quite literally – so be it, but you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more, and that’s the aim. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time about becoming a hiker.

Part of the joy of being out in the countryside is to take in the scenery and the sounds. You’re not in a race; it’s called rambling for a reason. Take your time, drink in the views, keep your eyes open for animals and birds, enjoy the silence or the burble of a river. The countryside has inspired people for generations, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do the same for you.

Getting The Most From Walking

If you have other interests, such as history, plants, birds, or anything like that, why not combine them with walking? You’ll get the most from them both that way. You can arrange trips to rural sites and walk there from a few miles away, getting the benefits of exercise and the country, then indulge your hobby in places you might not see otherwise.

This gradual approach to walking will see you enjoying hiking, even looking forward to it as a way to get out into the fresh air and clear the cobwebs from your head.

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