1. Hill and mountain hikes, spring, summer, autumn

This page is for hiking in hill or mountain areas of England, Wales or Scotland such as the northern Peak Distict, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Snowdonia, Mid Wales, the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Long Mynd Shropshire, or the Scottish Highlands. There are some fine hill and mountain hikes in these areas but the terrain is rugged and the weather can change rapidly so you need to be properly prepared with adequate outdoor clothing and footwear.

This page tells you what to take in addition to Info Page ‘A’ - Lowland Hikes

Here are some photos to give you an idea of what some of these areas are like in good weather.

Northern Peak District and Snowdon Northern Peak District and Snowdon

1.1 What to wear on hills and mountains.

  • Strong waterproof hiking boots. The ground can be rough, rocky and steep or wet and boggy so you need boots with a good tread pattern on the sole and high enough to support the ankles. For photos, see Info Page ‘A’ - Lowland Hikes. The boots should be large enough to allow space for at least 1 and possibly 2 pairs of thick socks and you need to break them in before you go hiking in hills or mountains. Wellington boots or trainers are not suitable for walking on mountain paths.
  • Warm windproof jacket, with hood if possible. To keep the wind out, your jacket should have a hood and elasticated cuffs and elastic or cord ties at the waist. A rucksack with a waist strap also helps to keep the wind out. Fibre pile or fleece jackets on their own aren’t usually windproof and they don’t usually have hoods.
  • Woollen hat.
  • Warm trousers. Not jeans or cords as these have little warmth, especially if they get wet.
  • Rucksack. A small 25 litre rucksack is only large enough for summer and we recommend about 35 litres for day hikes in hills or mountains any time of year. It should have a frame so that it is more comfortable to carry and a strong rucksack liner sack inside to keep everything dry.

1.2 What to carry on hills and mountains.

  • Waterproof jacket or cagoule to put on over your windproof jacket, unless your windproof jacket is also completely waterproof. The weather can change suddenly on hills and mountains in the UK and you could get rain, wind or both. It is important to keep warm and dry, otherwise your body can lose heat faster than you can produce heat and this can can cause hypothermia (exposure).
  • Waterproof overtrousers. When most types of fabric trousers get wet, they stick to your legs and you lose a lot of heat, so you should always carry waterproof overtrousers.
  • A spare layer of warm clothing such as a woollen jumper or fleece, in a plastic bag to keep it dry. It always gets colder as you go higher and the weather may turn colder.
  • Warm gloves or mittens.
  • Packed lunch. On most day hikes in hills or mountains, there is no pub and nowhere to buy food.
  • Drink bottle or thermos flask. You need to carry a drink any time of year. In hot weather, you’ll need to drink plenty before the walk and carry 1.5 to 2 litres. Mountain streams may not be safe to drink, especially in summer.
  • Sun hat, sun tan cream, sun glasses (March to September)
  • (Trekking poles). These are useful but not essential for extra stability on steep rocky mountain paths or in snow. Do not put your wrists through the loops because the poles could injure your arm or shoulder if you slip and you can’t let go of the pole.
  • (Camera). Your camera and/or mobile phone needs to be well protected against getting wet in your rucksack.
  • (Map, compass, map case, mobile phone with GPS and offline maps). You won’t need these if you hike with someone who has them and can navigate even in mist but it’s useful to bring a map.

1.3 Extra things to carry for safety on hills and mountains.

You may never need these items but they would be vital if you couldn’t get off the hill for any reason such as getting lost, darkness, injury or extreme weather conditions.

  • Spare energy rich food. Glucose tablets, dried fruit or Kendal Mint Cake etc. If a hike turns out to be longer or more strenuous than you expected then this will give extra energy.
  • Torch with spare batteries. If you are on hills, mountains or footpaths after dark, it is difficult to find the way even with a torch and impossible without. You may have a torch on a mobile phone but the battery won’t last long so you need a proper torch or a front cycle light.
  • Small first aid kit. Containing ‘Elastoplast’ etc, bandage, safety pins and antiseptic. ‘Compeed’ can be useful in case you get a blister.
  • Coins for telephone box. There may not be any mobile phone signal in hills or mountains but there may be a pay phone on a road.
  • Survival bag. This is a thick plastic bag 8 feet by 4 feet for emergency protection from wind and cold. Not a foil “space blanket” as this is no use in windy conditions. Two people can share one survival bag but no more.
  • Whistle. To give the International Mountain Distress Signal.

2 Hill and mountain hikes in winter

The weather on UK hills and mountains can be cold, wet and windy any time of the year but between October and March, you need to be prepared for colder weather and harsher conditions. This section is for occasional winter weekends away in mountain areas and it should be read in addition to section 1 above.

2.1 Winter hill walking - extra things to wear.

  • Woollen pullover or a fibre pile jacket, to wear underneath your windproof jacket.
  • Woollen balaclava hat to cover your head, ears and neck.
  • Gloves. These are essential in winter. Thick mittens or ski mitts are best but unless these are waterproof it is advisable to wear waterproof over-mitts on top of gloves, especially in snow.
  • Thick, warm walking trousers.
  • Gaiters. These fit round the tops of your boots and are useful if you walk in snow, otherwise snow gets inside your boots, melts and makes your socks wet. Gaiters are also useful at other times of the year on muddy or boggy ground.

2.2 Winter hill walking - extra things to carry.

  • Rucksack with at least 35 litre capacity. For winter hill walking, you’ll need enough space to carry extra clothing. A strong plastic rucksack liner sack is important to keep everything dry. An elasticated rain cover to go over the rucksack is also useful. Some rucksacks have a cover built in or you can buy them separately.
  • Waterproof overtrousers. These are essential in winter.
  • Spare clothing. In winter it is important to carry an extra layer, in addition to what you are wearing. This could be an extra woollen pullover or fibre pile jacket in a plastic bag to keep it dry.
  • Spare set of dry socks. (if walking in snow)
  • Torch with spare batteries. This is essential on short winter days.
  • Survival bag. Essential in winter with shorter days and risk of severe weather.

Page last updated 22nd July 2019