A Conversation for Preparing to Walk in the Highlands of Scotland

More advice

Post 1

Researcher 203416

I would disagree with some of the advice here. For example: taking alcohol on the hills. It may be a personal preference to do this, but not really good advice. Also, I would not advise people to carry too much. This is a hazard in itself - you carry too much, you can loose your balance and fall or sprain an ankle more easily, you get slowed down and are less likely to finish your route before dark, you get blisters also slowing you down. I am definately a proponent of the philosophy that the less you carry, the more you enjoy it. The trick is to know what is necessary for yourself. I would agree with navigation and knowing when to turn back though. Being able to navigate is the #1 piece of equipment/skill that one should take into the Scottish hills. Most accidents are caused by people taking a wrong turning due to poor navigation and getting into difficulties on unexpected terrain. And knowing when to turn back if the weather is too bad - even if you are very nearly at the top - is another life-saving skill. Here is the equipment I take with me:

shorts, t-shirt, fleece, socks.
hill running shoes.
waterproof, breathable jacket.
rucksack with map, compass, whistle.
emergency bivvy bag.
emergency food: a bag of sugared oatmeal (cooking is not neccessary and a stove and pan adds weight).

as above, but also:
extra fleece, trousers instead of shorts.
Waterproof trousers.
waterproof leather boots.
ice axe.
2 pairs gloves.

It is also recommended that you take a sleeping bag into the hills in winter, in case you get benighted. But I must confess that I have never done this.

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Post 2

Researcher 203416

oh yeah, other points on this article:

In summer, it gets light in the north at 3am and dark at 11pm. In Shetland, it doesn't really get dark at all on fine June evenings.

Sometimes I also take sunscreen/insect repellent in summer, depending upon the weather.

Never depend on a mobile phone to get you out of trouble - they rarely work on the hills.

If you do break your back/a leg and noone finds you, you will probably die of hypothermia before the ravens get to you. If someone knows where you are, there is a good chance you will be found if you survive the first night. SO - tell someone when you plan to return and get in touch with them when you do. However, once you are on the hill, your safety is your own responsibility, so if you must take a course of action that means that you end up sheltering in the wrong glen, or taking a different route because of the weather, then do so.

LEARN TO NAVIGATE. Go on a map reading course, do some orienteering - but for goodness sake, don't go on the hills alone without being able to use a map and compass.

BE FIT. Being unfit, inexperienced, and unable to navigate really increases your chances of getting in a jam.

And mostly, the hills aren't that bad. Go with an experienced companion, choose a fine day, or know when to turn back, and you will be ok, and can enjoy the wonderful feeling of being out in the open, enjoying the exercise and scenery, and leaving your everyday cares behind.

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Post 3


Cheers for commenting, sometimes you wonder if people ever read your Entries smiley - smiley I wouldn't neccesarily agree that alcohol and hills are a bad combo, especially with the proviso's here, however getting drunk would be a massive mistake. As for not carrying to much, also good advise, but I would prefer to be stuck out there with too much, not too little, especially if I was inexperienced. Cooking up a bacon buttie and brewing a hot cup of tea with friends in the middle of nowhere is always enjoyable, even if it means carrying a little extra.

There is technically light at 11pm, that is true, but if you are walking further south, and/or there is heavy cloud it will be dark a couple of hours earlier, and walking in twilight is not the best of fun, so I erred on the side of safety. The sunscreen is good advice (especially as I live in a hole, on the north-east coast, for the rest of the year and hardly see the sun one day to the next and so virtually shrivel up in sunlight smiley - smiley), for insect repellant I just use bog myrtle (seems just as effective as anything). Hypothermia would be more likely, but falling into an endless sleep just doesn't seem to strike fear into people in the same way (and the ravens could come along....) smiley - smiley I always take a mobile phone, whenever I have used it, it has worked and I know of at least six people whose lives have been saved by them in the hills, and for the extra few grams they weigh, definately worth it. Well, hope to see you around, but it is home time now smiley - smiley So until later.....
BCNU - Crescent

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