The weather is changing and talk of winter is sneaking into conversations! But before the snow arrives and we all get ridiculously excited and rush out onto snowy hills and mountains. I wanted to share my winter hiking for beginners tips with you all so you can be a little more prepared for the white stuff.
Here I will share my first snowy walk in the Peak District and also my 5 useful tips for hiking in the snow.
Winter Hiking For Beginners
My First Peak District Winter Hike in the Snow
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I’m a regular visit to the Peak District National Park in the UK since it is the closest to my home in Nottingham. I’ve done many hikes on hot sunny days, where you are wishing you’d taken more water with you and I’ve also had my fair share of rainy and windy days!
However, it wasn’t until winter 2017, that I went for my first serious hike in the snow up on Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. And I learnt a few winter hiking tips for beginners, that I wish I’d known before!
Driving into the little village of Edale, famous for it being the start of the Pennine Way long-distance trail in the UK and many other beautiful walks. The village was scattered with snow, nothing too heavy but definitely a wintery look!
Feeling excited, it’s snow, isn’t it! I changed into my walking boots and set off on my mini snow adventure with my younger brother. The day was wonderful, blue skies not too windy (that always makes it feel colder!)
The paths were a bit slushy at first but as I hiked the snow kept getting deeper and deeper. The path up Grindsbrook Clough was almost completely hidden but finally, I reached the top of Kinder Scout.
There weren’t many people out hiking and the fresh snow made it a winter wonderland. And although I fell over several times in the deep snow I had an amazing day out.
Following a less snowy winter in 2018, I’m wondering if 2019 will treat us to snow-covered hills and mountains?
5 Top Tips for Hiking in the Snow
Here are my 5 things to tick off to ensure your snowy hike in the UK is an enjoyable one!
1. Plan your winter hike
In winter, the sun disappears much quicker. Around the middle of the afternoon, you can see the light fading and if you’re not already heading back down then you need to quickly. A snow-topped hill is not the best place to be once it gets dark.
In the winter months, sunrise is between 7-8.30 am and sunset is between 3.45-5 pm. On the shortest day, 22 December 2019, (based in Penrith, Lake District) sunrise is 8.32 am and sunset is 3.46 pm, meaning it’ll be getting dark from around 2.45 pm. Wow, that’s a scary thought!
2. Wear the Right Winter Clothes
Plenty of layers are great for a walk in the snow, along with a lovely warm jacket. As well as a waterproof jacket and trousers too. But don’t forget a few essential items, a big hat, gloves and a buff (to keep your nose warm too!)
My latest purchase of these Berghaus Paclite Waterproof trousers was a good decision, more expensive, but they are fantastic, easy to get on (and off), plus waterproof, without that swishing noise you get from some waterproof trousers!
The one item I didn’t have on the day was a pair of gaiters. These are waterproofs that clip under your boots and go up to your knees. In deep snow, without these, the snow goes over the top of your bottoms and melts. This is exactly what happened to me so I had very wet feet by the end of the day. Lesson learned!
3. Stay safe in the snow
Deep snowdrifts can build up, some up to 3-4 foot deep. And you have no idea how deep you are going to step or whether there’s water or a deep hole below.
Take a stick or walking poles, if you’re unsure test the ground before you walk on it.
4. Take a map, compass and/or GPS
In heavy snow, the paths are likely to disappear completely. And in a total whiteout landmark are hard to spot. Even places you’ve walked many times before look totally different in the snow.
Make sure you use your compass, even if you do think you know where you are. Generally, a 1:50,000 map can be more useful so you don’t get distracted by the detail on a 1:25,000 map that’s hidden by the snow.
I buy my maps from Ordnance Survey, they sometimes have a few good deals on too if you buy more than one map! And treat yourself to a decent compass, I use this Silva Expedition Compass, also recommended by DofE.
5. Have fun in the snow
It doesn’t snow very often in the UK so make the most of it. If you have the right equipment and clothes there’s nothing better than a hike in the snow.
And if you plan your time right you’ll even have time to build a snowman!
Tag me in your snowman photos on Instagram 🙂 Follow me @beckythetraveller
Winter Mountaineering in the UK
My tips for hiking in the snow are based at a beginners level because that’s as much experience as I have!
These tips are useful for low-level walking our beautiful National Parks, the Peak District (pictured above hiking Mam Tor), Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia.
However, if you are planning on doing some serious winter hiking, for example, Mt Snowdon in Snowdonia, Helvellyn or Scafell Pike in the Lake District or pretty much anything in Scotland, then you need proper equipment and experience (or if you don’t have experience then go with someone that does).
I would 100% recommend booking yourself on a Winter Skills Course. One of my friends did a course last year with Snowdonia Walking & Climbing and said it was fantastic. Of course, feel free to check out other providers too.
Has that helped give you a few ideas for getting ready for winter? Are you a beginner hiker planning to do some winter walks in the snow this year? Let me know if you have any more questions in the comments below