The big city is an exciting place to live, but sometimes you just need an escape into the outdoors and some countryside air. This guide is for novice or brand new hikers looking to enjoy a day away from London, without investing lots in travel and equipment. Ready, hikers? Let’s go!
Planning Your Route
Where do you want to explore first? A good day out needs a little prep, so take the time to do your research into the best hiking routes near you. Luckily, there are several lovely London escapes a short drive away. Winnie the Pooh fans will love a wander through Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, the inspiration for A.A Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood. Another peaceful option is Hatfield Forest in Essex, with 11 miles of woodland walks to calm the mind. Don’t forget to also check out some cute pubs and eateries, too. After a long walk you’ll have earned a sit-down somewhere quaint and comfy.
Packing Your Bag
Before you pack a single thing, double-check your choice of bag. Is it comfortable, and the right size? You’ll need to bring plenty of water, some great snacks to keep you going, and save room for an extra layer or two of clothing. Consider seasonal accessories like sunnies or a cosy hat and gloves when packing your bag. Finally, for longer routes, consider investing in (and learning to read) a traditional, paper map. Phones are great, but they aren’t immune to battery problems or sudden water damage, and it’s helpful to have a back-up so you don’t get lost. Once you’ve finished packing, but before it’s time to go, make sure to actually lift that bag. If it’s a little on the heavy side then take out any non-essentials. You don’t want to cause unnecessary aches and pains by carrying way too much on your walk!
Choosing Your Clothes
The weather forecast and time of year should inform your outfit choices, but sturdy walking boots are essential no matter the weather. Try on boots with thick hiking socks and ensure that they provide adequate ankle support for safely navigating rough terrain. It’s also a good idea to wear-in any new shoes before lacing them up for a day of walking. An hour in to a 5 hour walk is not the best time to realise your new boots are rubbing painfully! Make sure you have planned a few shorter walks to get used to your new boots if needed.
Beyond the boots, thin layers are key as they allow extra flexibility. Choose some waterproof, quick-drying trousers and don’t underestimate the sun, even if it doesn’t feel that hot. A sunhat and sun-cream are a good idea, as even a weak sun can cause skin damage if you’re outside all day long. A thin waterproof jacket will save you in any downpours.
On The Day
Have a back-up plan in mind just in case the weather does thwart your plans, and ensure that you at least glance at the forecast for your destination in case there are going to be downpours. If your snack choices have lots of packaging, consider decanting them into your bag, otherwise you will have to carry any rubbish until you’ve found a suitable litter bin. Pack some blister plasters just in case, and get out there and enjoy!