/ Hill/altitude walking: where to start??
Hi everyone, I'm Sam, Italian based in Bristol.
I have just celebrated my birthday in the Dolomites (Sass Pordoi) with my parents. I stupidly always snobbed moutain walks because they liked it so much and I couldn't stomach the idea of having anything in commo with them! Now, at 34 years of age, after 20km of ridges/ferratas/snow and sunburnt legs at 3200mt in one day, I can say I do appreciate it. A lot.
So, without much beating around the bush, how do I start the same type of activity (even at lower altitudea) in the UK? I tried browsing the "crags" but can't really understand the logbooks as much as I can a climbing logbook... I love the idea of planning, plotting and logging my walks, but going from concept to actualisation, I'm a bit stuck!
It's also 8am here, am still stoked and buzzing ans havent really slept last night so apologies if my post is confusing and thanks all for the help!
Hi Sam. While there are numerous guidebooks to the mountainous areas of the UK, for someone who loves to plot and plan their own excursions, there is no greater resource than the maps of the Ordnance Survey. I strongly recommend you develop some map-reading skills and then let your enthusiasm take you where it will. Based in Bristol you have the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountain, Exmoor and Dartmoor within easy reach, and the exceptionally beautiful mountains of N Wales not a lot further away. Why not pick up the 1:25000* scale maps of these national parks and let your eye run up the valleys and over the ridges. In no time you'll be planning your own excursions and enjoying the satisfaction of moving unguided through the mountains. You'll also find yourself losing many evenings in the company of those maps, in joyful contemplation of outings to come. Happy expeditions!
*Experienced mountain guides prefer 1:50,000 scale maps but, for a less trained eye, the greater detail of the larger format makes for easier navigation on the hill. I use a combination of both with the 1:50,000 on my smartphone (Viewranger is a good app) to complement the large scale paper map in the rucksac.
There are plenty of walking guidebooks covering most areas of the country and with walks at all levels of difficulty. You can also find walking routes online for example https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ has lots of walks, but only covers Scotland.
You could also join a club. Again, these cover all levels of difficulty and adventure, and you may find that those which are simply walking and rambling groups are a bit tame after your experience in the Dolomites. However most climbing clubs also cater for the more adventurous hill/mountain walkers, and as you are a climber you would also find other climbing partners there.
A good place to start for walk info would be the UKH Route Cards. We've got hill walks of all levels of difficulty, all over the UK:
Then look at articles for location ideas, skills etc:
There is free software available and an associated free phone app which is very good for planning and recording routes. You get your first choice area for free and can pay for additional areas and they are not expensive. I've used it for mountain biking and would highly recommend it. It also has a database of routes recommended by other walkers and cyclists.
It's called "Komoot"
Couldn't help smiling at your post and how your feelings about mountain and hill walking have changed!
I did a lot of walking as a teenager, but then didn't really do any til my early 40s. Wanting to get back into it, I went on a couple of organised walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park, then quickly realised I didn't want to trail round as a member of an organised group, but to explore on my own. I used some walking routes, but the key thing was going on a short course to refresh my navigation. Then the hills became an open book and I could plan my own routes which was way more fun.
So I guess it was a bit of a stepped process for me, but very swift steps. From Bristol, I'd head over to the Beacons which are a good nursery ground!
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