/ Beginner winter hillwalking Routes
Hi guys/gals, I've recently got into hiking/backpacking properly this year. Recently doing a whole week in the Lake district which was knackering as someone used to day hikes. I've got a whole month off from work during early november to early december so I'd like to get some beginner winter walking done.
Ideally I'm looking for something with a bit of hills in england or wales (peak district is looking nice) where I can possibly get an excuse to try crampons out. I've done some reading behind buying/picking out winter gear but I think I need to work out where I'm going before I commit to somehwere. I'm decently fit I would guess with 3 days worth of supplies I can walk 15km+ a day in summer hills so I'd guess I can do 10km in winter. Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated
Unfortunately there is unlikely to be any snow at that time of year and almost certainly no consolidated snow requiring crampons. Winter conditions (normally but not always) kick in in January to February.
Very little in the Peak District for beginner winter mountaineering. You could deliberately seek out some of the steep slopes on the hills but most can be done without winter gear (until you move to some of the small ice climbs available). Certainly plenty of easy slopes in the Peak to learn the basics though but would not be a classic winter mountaineering day.
Snowdonia and Lakes are your best bet. Lots of easy terrain to learn how winter walking/easy mountaineering with crampons and axe. And you can combine this with a proper winter mountaineering day out. I'd recommend getting out as much as possible in your month off to the Lakes and Snowdonia in non-winter conditions. Learn and get confident in non-winter conditions and that will make you more confident when you venture to the same places in winter.
Usual advice, learn how to walk confidently in crampons in easy terrain before moving to more difficult terrain. Do not underestimate how easy it is to fall over, catch a crampon. Learn how to ice axe arrest in safe terrain with a safe run out.
Many learn the basics on their own and from online resources (look at the BMC winter series). I'd recommend going on an introduction to winter mountaineering course if you can afford it. Plenty available in the Lakes and Snowdonia from the usual suspects.
Not my thing but have you considered something like a Cairngorm bothy trip?
Lairig Ghru North to South with a stop over Corrour Bothy?
Backpacking at that time of year can be pretty miserable unless you have a good weather window: wet, windy, long hours of darkness, hard to dry kit out.
All you can do is go where the weather looks best. The best bet for winter conditions is always going to be Scotland, although even there you'll be lucky to get much before December. But, you can sometimes get full-on winter conditions in November.
Scotland can be really windy in the winter. It pays to plan your day around wind speed and direction.
If you don't already know the MWIS website provides (a generally pessimistic) mountain weather forecast for the UK, including links to avalanche forecasts.
Any of the Munro outings in Scotland are transformed in winter to something significantly more serious. That said, especially in the Cairngorms, I'm not sure 10km will get you very far. That would be the Linn of Dee to the Derry Lodge and back. You can always take a bike if you have one.
As others have suggested, if it does snow early this year, you are more likely to be ploughing through soft, fresh stuff than striding along in crampons. It'll work wonders for your fitness though! Assuming you don't give up and turn round.
Realistically, get to Scotland if you can and don't worry if there is no snow, but if it's too wild (i.e. wet and windy) there head to the Lakes or Wales. The Peak is a last resort.
I'd recommend going on an introduction to winter mountaineering course if you can afford it. Plenty available in the Lakes and Snowdonia from the usual suspects.
If booking a course in Wales or the lakes I would strongly recommend checking what the providers policy is if there are no winter conditions. A good provider should give you the opportunity to cancel or reschedule but some dont and run the course regardless which is a complete waste of time and money.
> I'd recommend going on an introduction to winter mountaineering course if you can afford it. Plenty available in the Lakes and Snowdonia from the usual suspects.
> If booking a course in Wales or the lakes I would strongly recommend checking what the providers policy is if there are no winter conditions. A good provider should give you the opportunity to cancel or reschedule but some dont and run the course regardless which is a complete waste of time and money.
This is the problem, isn't it? How many times are you going to have to rescehdule before you get some proper winter conditions in England and Wales?
I've done a lot in winter in the UK and there is simply no comparison with Scotland in terms of winter conditions.
Although even in the Cairngorms they were having to cancel courses last winter
Thanks for that. I've been looking at winter courses from various people and groups in Scotland. I'm definitely going to do one of these now, do you think there will be good conditions in Scotland for learning crampon/ice pick etc. In late November/early December time?
Or is it just better to do some hiking and scrambling in Snowdonia or lake District in my month off and then do the course in January?
Thanks for your advice everyone it's been helpful. Does anyone have any particular places to recommend for a 2-5 day winter course, or is it alright as long as it's run by a BMC mountain leader?
> do you think there will be good conditions in Scotland for learning crampon/ice pick etc. In late November/early December time?
> Or is it just better to do some hiking and scrambling in Snowdonia or lake District in my month off and then do the course in January?
Probably not. But you never know.
But, at that time of year there is little point in planning in advance. I'd just go wherever the weather looks best at the last minute.
Also consider traditional route of joining a local mountaineering club- they may well have meets you can go on & access to climbing huts to stay in;
Definitely worth a course-qualified instructors here or Plas y Brenin/ Glenmore Lodge
Simply doing lots of hillwalking/ navigation is also a great way to learn.
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