This is something I have been wanting to write about for ages and have touched upon it a few times in other blog posts – Walking In Weather.
Now, there is the obvious “wear appropriate clothing for the weather that you are heading out in” spiel but this post is going to cover more than just wearing a coat when it rains. There are a lot of other things to consider when walking in weather.
I love nothing more than going for a walk in the rain, everything seems cleaner and fresher, the air is cooler and much of the time you feel like the only person in existence as many people shy away from heading out in a downpour! But, there are hazards on the way, the paths may be more slippery and your foothold not as steady so you will need to take your time. Floodwater may have gathered on the trail you wish to follow which may mean navigating around or through the water, at times you may need to take a different route or abandon that particular trail totally which means that you should know the area well enough to find alternate routes. The ground may have become marshy or boggy so you will need to take care with each step, if possible getting hold of a stick (whether from the floor, discarded by nearby trees, or buying a proper walking stick)to use to test the depth of the water in the ground before standing on it is a good idea and indication of whether the ground is able to be stood on. It is worth also, carrying a torch, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but bright enough to light the way and small enough to fit in your pocket. In rainy weather it is surprising how dark certain areas can become, and you never know if the mist and fog will roll in making you almost invisible in the landscape and hard to spot.
Walking in windy weather can be really invigorating, like the fingers of air are whipping away the dust and debris from your daily life, leaving you feeling refreshed and awake. I love the windy weather for this reason – it leaves me feeling recharged and ready to take on the world but, it also comes with hazards that you need to prepare for. Winds can be dangerous, especially the higher up you climb, where the winds may be stronger, stay away from edges of cliffs or ridges and if the wind picks up and you happen to be in one of these places, where you may get blown off the edge, sit down and get as low to the ground as possible, if possible, sit and wait for the winds to slow or stop, if you can’t stop and need to keep moving or the winds show no sign of letting up, proceed with care along your chosen route but stay as low as you can, the wind has got less of a chance to hit you when you are closer to the ground. If possible head for ground where the path is lower than the land so that the land can offer some protection. And if you are planning to head out into the wind be careful of objects that may have been caught by the wind and be acting as trajectories flying through the air, you don’t want to be hit by something and injured. If possible wear something with a hood and pull it up over your head to offer protection. And whatever you do, an wherever you are protect your eyes, sand and grit can be carried by the wind and cause damage to your eyes. I very often have sunglasses or my normal glasses with me when walking which offer a level of protection otherwise I use my hands to shield my eyes. If you can, walk with the wind to your back so it is not hitting you front on, I know this is not always possible though, but can help protect you from many things carried by the wind.
Snow and Ice are really hazardous to walkers and, while looking pretty, can leave paths and trails slippery and frozen. The snow can also blanket a lot of dangers that may lie on the pathways, like uneven ground, stones, logs, other trip hazards or even ice which you may slip on. As with rain, take your time, go even slower than you would in other conditions as you cannot know what lays under the snow. Wrap up in warm clothing, layers are always best, wear gloves and thick socks, take a hat and wear a scarf. It is surprising how quickly the cold can penetrate your clothing and cause your body temperature to drop which can make you ill, so keeping warm is essential. Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen in the day, the sunlight bouncing off the white surface of the snow can cause snow glare making it hard to see and can bounce UVA and UVB rays around causing sunburn.
Damp conditions can be as hazardous as rainy conditions. It may not have rained for a while so many paths will be dry but you will find damp conditions in woodland and forests where the sunlight may not have penetrated beneath the leafy canopy and dried off the ground, or you may have areas of natural bog or marsh that retain water, surfaces covered with moss and lichen are also likely to retain water and be damp so take care when manoeuvring through these kinds of area, slips can be common here. Use common sense and go at a slower, more cautious pace.
When it is hot and humid the air and ground can feel damp so take similar precautions as when walking in damp conditions. It is also worth carrying water with you as you will loose body water through sweat as your skin tries to cool you down. Take with you a bottle of insect repellent as its in these conditions that you are likely to get bitten (I was bitten twice by horseflies and its definitely not in my top 10 most pleasant experiences!) Also wear sunscreen to protect your skin and carry a thin cardi or top with you incase the weather starts to change and cool down. I would also pack a spare top to change into if the one you are wearing gets too damp from perspiration. In this weather you can get chaffing issues, whether from clothing, skin or shoes which can lead to very sore skin or blisters so I tend to pack plasters and an anti-chaffing cream.
Sunny weather is lovely to walk in but can be tough going regardless of the season. You can suffer from heatstroke if not careful so I tend to plan my route so I am walking in the shade at least some of the time. As with hot and humid weather I would pack water and a thin cardi or top to put on, more so in this case to protect your skin from burning. Apply sunscreen regularly and don’t forget the back of the neck and tops of ears as well as hairline. If possible wear a hat and protect your eyes with sunglasses. Stop regularly to re-hydrate and recharge your energy. If you are walking with your dog please be aware of the surface temperature of the ground you are walking on, dogs paws are really sensitive and they can burn their pads and blister easily. Keep them away from tarmac in the day or other surfaces that heat up quickly or retain their heat. Check the ground temperature with the back of your hand, if you can not stand the temperature for 2mins then your dog can’t either.
If you are out and about and fog descends which can happen really quickly on moors or up on high ground, or mist rolls in keep in mind that these conditions can cause you to become disorientated as you can not see landmarks or other identifiable land information. If you can, download a compass app to your phone or buy a pocket one and carry it with you, this will help to navigate you around the area. Walk slowly and take care, the mist and fog may obscure the path ahead of you and mask any hazzards that may lay in your way, stay in and away from edges of pathways if you are on high ground. Carry a torch with you to help guide you and also to make yourself visible. If you are packed properly, you will have a lightweight top or coat with you, put it on as the fog or mist can cause the air to be come chilly and for you to get cold. If possible find a safe spot to sit and wait for the fog or mist to clear, sometimes it can come in quickly and disappear without a trace with as much speed.
Whatever weather ypu are walking in be prepared and be safe.
And now for yesterdays stats…did I hit my target of 10,000 steps?
🙂 I did!!!
I am aiming to walk 10,000 steps a day for the whole of september in order to raise money for Cancer Research, if you would like to sponsor me or donate, you can visit my Just Giving page where a few clicks will see your donation added to the cause.