Article first published in:
Wicklow Mountain Views – The Newsletter of the Wicklow Uplands Council.
Issue No. 30 – Summer 2019
Do You Want To Do More Hiking?
brilliant – keep reading!
Hiking is a fantastic sport, but it has its dangers too. Following these basic guidelines from Mountaineering Ireland will reduce the risk factors and add to your enjoyment.
Love Your Feet
- Having the right footwear is possibly the most important factor in determining your hiking happiness.
- Choose the right boot for the terrain you are walking on – fabric boots are good for trail walking, for rugged mountain terrain you will need a more durable boot.
- Invest in quality hiking socks.
- When buying new boots, go to a reputable retailer, have your feet measured and try boots from different manufacturers.
Dress for Success
- Layering your clothing gives flexibility and allows for better temperature regulation.
- A good layering system should comprise an outer layer, an insulating mid-layer and a base layer.
- Jeans and cotton shirts should be avoided as they have poor heat retention when damp.
Bring The Right Gear
- Waterproof jacket and trousers – literally a life-saver in Irish mountain weather, get the best you can afford.
- Hat and gloves
- Detailed map
- Spare warm layer(s)
- First aid kit
- Bivvy bag in case of emergency
- Rucksack of around 25 litres to put it all in
Check The Weather Forecast
- Get a forecast for your hiking area on met.ie or other sites like www.yr.no
- A combination of low temperature, rain and wind will produce a wind-chill effect, and can lead to hypothermia, so be prepared.
- After heavy rain, mountain streams can become very difficult to cross, avoid crossing water if possible.
- On a brighter note, don’t forget your sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat in hot sunny weather!
Choose The Right Path
If you haven’t yet got the skills to find your own way in the hills, follow a waymarked trail, see irishtrails.ie
- Walk with others if you can. Mountaineering Ireland has about 50 affiliated clubs in the east coast area that hike regularly in Wicklow, details on mountaineering.ie
- If hiking by yourself, let someone know what route you are taking and how long you expect to be out. If nothing else, you will make them jealous!
Park With Care
- Parking space is limited in many parts of the Wicklow uplands, if hiking with others, car-pool if possible and take care not to waste space between parked cars.
- Avoid blocking gateways or narrow roads.
- Make sure not to leave valuables in parked vehicles.
Stay Fuelled and Hydrated
- Fuel up at the start of the day with a hearty breakfast.
- For lunch, refuel with slow energy release food such as oatcakes, bananas and peanut butter sandwiches. Chocolate and jelly babies make great treats too!
- It is essential to drink plenty of fluids, especially in warm weather (2 litres a day is recommended, but this varies with individuals, the weather and the duration of the walk).
- As well as providing a livelihood for many farmers and landowners, the hills are home for people and for wildlife too.
- We have a responsibility to respect other people and their property and to protect the natural environment.
- Avoid taking dogs on the hills, or into any area where livestock may be grazing.
- Many popular routes in Wicklow have become eroded through repeated footfall, you can prevent this damage worsening by walking within the existing path line (wearing gaiters makes this easier).
Learn To Navigate
- Learn how to use a map and compass. Get a proficient friend to teach you, or better still, enrol on a Mountain Skills course, a fun weekend that will improve your confidence and independence (see mountaineering.ie)
- GPS technology can be a useful navigational aid but should not be relied upon as signal or batteries may fail, or your device may get wet. If using technology on the hills carry a portable power bank.
Remember To Smile (it’s fun after all).
- Hillwalking might seem tough at first, however, the more you walk the easier it gets, and the rewards are many, including experiencing stunning mountain views, increased fitness and the company of friendly and likeminded people.
– Compiled by Russell Mills and Mags Collins, members of Mountaineering Ireland’s Hillwalking Committee. Russell also provides guided hikes in the Wicklow Mountains and Mountain Skills courses.
Newsletters Available Online
This newsletter and many of the previous publications are available online to view and download as PDF files directly from the Wicklow Uplands Council website.
CLICK HERE for this issue – Summer 2019.
CLICK HERE to view the full selection of newsletters dating back to 2006.