If you want to use a map to navigate in the countryside, you need to know your position first.
If you set up your map correctly at the start of a walk, and if you consequently compare and adjust its orientation at every feature, you will always know your position and the direction of your intended destination.
If you want to go beyond marked routes, you have to be able to use a map and compass. There are numerous route recommendations on the internet, with the corresponding data to be downloaded on to a GPS (Global Positioning System). The down side of the GPS is that you need satellite cover and electric power. It is a very good aid in modern times, but it is absolutely no substitute for a good walking map and thorough route planning and preparation.
A map gives information about the terrain, inhabited areas, watercourses, roads and lots more. You have to be able to ‘read’ the map, interpret the symbols in the key (legend) and ‘translate’ it on to the ground.
On walking maps, marked routes are usually displayed as red lines. Watercourses as blue lines. Green is typically forestry. Always read the key or legend on the side of the map since different map makers can use different symbols for details.
Contour lines and slight shading represent shape of the ground. A contour line is a line joining points of equal height above sea level. The closer the lines are spaced, the steeper the ground; the further they are apart, the gentler the slope.
It is obvious that the time it takes to do a walk differs from person to person, depending on fitness and stamina. That’s why stated times often don’t correspond with your own.
To calculate the time over flat ground the average speed is taken to be 4 km per hour. Ascends get added on (1 hour per 300 m of climb), descends get substracted. Breaks are not part of the calculation.
The walking times as advised in route guides and on markers are rough guide times only.
For a simple walk you don’t necessarily need highly technical, expensive specialist kit. Choose your equipment depending on difficulty, terrain, duration of the route as well as personal preferences and needs. Full walking kit includes:
Sturdy walking shoes are sufficient for walks on level ground and in lowlands. For hikes into mountainous terrain, you should have waterproof walking boots with a firm sole, and good ankle support.
Choose clothing to suit the season of the year. Multiple layers using synthetic fibres, which wick out moisture and dry quickly, are best.
Avoid wearing jeans or cotton trousers; they absorb moisture. Lighter fabrics are preferred. Overtrousers are practical since they keep out wind as well as rain.
It does not have to be an expensive, breathable product. It is more important that it is small to pack and light to carry. A small umbrella can be useful. Rain capes are to be avoided.
For day-walks a 20-30 litre backpack may suffice. It should be fitted to the body, with straps individually adjusted to suit the body shape and a broad and soft waist belt to ensure a comfortable but close fit. This can spread the weight between the shoulders and the top of the hips. Since most backpacks are not fully waterproof, it is advisable to have a rain cover.
Walking poles are not necessary when walking on level ground. However many walkers value well adjusted and correctly employed poles when ascending or descending steeper ground. Telescopic poles that can be stored away easily when not in use are advisable.
Sun glasses, hat or cap and sunscreen are essential walking equipment.
Bottles can be manufactured from plastic or aluminium, and should hold a minimum of 1 litre.
1st aid kit
With band aid, blister pack, disinfectant, painkiller, cooling ointment, bandages, latex gloves, scissors and tweezers.
When walking in mountainous terrain:
Extra safety equipment (e.g. picks, ropes, etc.)
Nutrition while out
When walking briskly, the body uses ca. 270 kcal more energy per hour than it would when sitting at ease. However, sausages, alcohol and crisps are not suitable as energy foods on a walk.
The ideal walking menu
Especially for Winter walks
Take additional warm drinks or hot water, e.g. for instant soups.
In case of emergency – First aid
Order of questions from emergency services:
Important Telephone numbers
Know the relevant emergency numbers for
Don’t forget to take:
Take if you wish: