Summer hiking - what to wear and where to go
It may not feel like summer is upon us, as the weather has been so relentlessly terrible, but hikers shouldn't be put off by wet, miserable conditions. After all, any hiker worth their salt should be ready for the weather to change rapidly and unexpectedly, especially when hiking at altitude. It could be that the sun peaks through the clouds at any moment - or a month's rainfall descends in hours. As a result, it's important to know what to pack and how to tailor your itinerary based on your destination.
What to pack
It's important to choose an itinerary that matches the weather and trail conditions, especially if the trail is more than just a stroll through the forest. If the weather is cold and wet, several layers will be needed in order to protect the body from the cold rain. A layer of insulation plus another layer to protect from the wind should help in the battle against the elements. However, for warm weather, it's important to wear quick-drying materials such as fleece or wool in order to carry moisture away from the body.
Furthermore, hiking boots are recommended regardless of the nature of the terrain. They are invaluable when it comes to walking across rugged ground and are designed to offer traction against these uneven surfaces. In addition, hiking boots also provide better support and protection when navigating uneven ground; helping support the ankle and reducing the chance of bruising in a way a pair of trainers may not.
As hiking requires a lot of exertion, it's important to replenish spent nutrients while on your journey. Drinking water frequently is not merely helpful but a necessity, whatever the weather. Bringing a small meal or a snack to eat can also help prevent fatigue.
Where to go
There are plenty of routes and trails to follow in the British Isles.
Coniston in Cumbria, England is a particular favourite with hikers as it is home to the Lake District's third largest lake, Coniston Water, and one of the area's most challenging trails - the 'Coniston Round'. The route gives walkers the chance to enjoy the skyline of the Coppermines Valley, which takes in Swirl How, Brim Fell and the Old Man of Coniston. The route also incorporates the mountain of Wetherlam, so it's important to adjust your gear before you set off in order to cope with the terrain.
On a sunny summer's day, there's no place better than the south coast of England, which is why hiking in south coastal areas such as Weymouth, Swanage and Lyme Regis is such a popular pastime for walkers. The South coast's huge variety of scenery - from the iconic Durdle Door to the famous Harry Rocks - makes it one of the most beautiful areas for walking that the UK has to offer. There are some steep gradients on these coastal routes but those who persevere will be rewarded with some stunning views.
For those who fancy a real challenge, there are a number of routes to the top of Scotland's Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. Ben Nevis by the Carn Mor Dearg Arete is a truly spectacular route for those experienced walkers who fancy testing their might against the mountain. Many cite the climb up neighbouring mountain Carn Mor Dearg as tiring due to its extreme gradient, as well as the lack of clear path. However, once you reach the top of Ben Nevis, the 360-degree view is nothing short of breathtaking.