Walking Should be Enjoyable!
This is an update of a note that I put out when we first started the Hondón Valley Walking Group; I am reissuing it now for the benefit of new members and to remind those of us who have been walking with the Group for a while of what we agreed last year. Even if you think you know it please browse it to see the changes and additions to the original.
Aims and Ethos.
Perhaps a little over the top, but if we don’t aim then we won’t arrive! So my take on the aim is to enjoy walking with like-minded people over the hills and far away. As for an ethos, treat people, animals, plants and the environment in general with respect. Walk for health, enjoyment, fitness, enjoy every minute of it and help your fellow walkers to do the same.
What Equipment will we Need?
The short answer for most of the year is – Not a lot! However, there are some things that it is worth investing in and the first is appropriate footwear for the walk that you are doing. What is appropriate will depend on the time of year, the terrain, the distance to be walked and the weather. In general, no flip-flops, dress sandals or high heels – ever! Wellies might be OK for a short walk in wet weather, but they don’t offer much support and can be very uncomfortable. Good quality trainers can be fine on roads, but do tend to let you feel the stones on rough tracks, on which we will walk a lot and they do tend to let in the water! Walking shoes are very good on level(ish) ground, but walking boots are generally to be preferred for ankle support; traditional, high-tech or any other sort of such boots are fine. In the summer ‘attack’ sandals with grip soles and stout straps can be OK on dry ground. So you pay your money and take your choice; just remember, it won’t be a stroll in the park, we live in the hills, so we do hill walking there isn’t a lot of flat walking around here.
Sticks or poles can be useful, but are not essential. They come into their own on rough tracks and when going downhill or on loose screed. A light rucksack to carry your water, snacks and first aid kit is fine for summer, but in winter a slightly larger rucksack to carry waterproof protective clothing, spare socks, a sweater or other warm clothing can be beneficial. Having a good loud whistle tied to your rucksack is generally a good idea and including a knife and a torch in your pack is a fairly common practice.
Anything else, such as maps, a compass, GPS, telescope, camera etc. is really a matter of choice. The maxim should be “Be self-sufficient and carry only what you need for the walk.” We usually have a walk leader who, hopefully, knows the way and will be your navigator.
A Pint of Water Weighs a Pound and a Quarter…!
…and a litre of water is a pint and three-quarters! So by my calculations a litre of water weighs 2.2 lbs or, mas o menos a kilogram. So, you might be reluctant to carry too much!
However remaining hydrated during a walk is very important for your health and your ability to complete the walk safely, especially in the summer. So how much should you carry? My view is that it is better to carry more, rather than less, than you think you will need. I think that a litre is the minimum and I usually carry 2 litres and more than that for a walk lasting more than 2 hours. There are many conflicting views on how much you should drink and when you should drink it. One extreme says don’t drink until you feel thirsty, whilst the other says drink small quantities all the time. My view is that the more you walk, the better idea you will have about what suits you; however, going back to a previous comment, be self-sufficient and carry enough for your needs and a bit more. That way you won’t get caught out if the walk or weather causes you to sweat more than you anticipated.
How Difficult are the Walks?
We have settled on three grades of walk: easier, moderate and more demanding. The criteria are a mixture of length, altitude, height gain and terrain; the decision on where the walk falls in this spectrum is the walk leaders and we don’t use fixed measurements but judgement about the combination of criteria along the route. However, to give you some guidance the easier walks are usually shorter say 5 to 10Km, have a smaller height gain of, say, up to 200m, and are on roads, good tracks and established footpaths; although we try to avoid metalled roads where possible. Moderate walks tend to be 8 to 12Km with a height gain up to 500m and might include some rough ground and short scrambles. The more demanding walks might be longer, have more height gain, be on rougher terrain or any combination thereof. (For anyone unfamiliar with the term height gain this is the total amount of going uphill on the walk, and consequently, going downhill, it is not necessarily the altitude difference between the start point and the highest point of the walk. So although a height gain of 200m might indeed be this difference it is more likely that it will not; for instance, it could equally well be four uphill stretches of 50m or any other uphill stretches that add up to 200m.)
We always give some indication of the grade and conditions of a walk in our publicity, so that you can assess its suitability for you. Depending on your fitness level and recent walking experience you should be able to assess a suitable entry point, but unless you are in current hill walking practice we recommend that you don’t start higher than a moderate grade of walk. However, rest assured that we have no intention of undertaking walks requiring rope work or the use of crampons; we will stick to walking and let the mountaineers do their own thing!
Do I need to Book for a Walk?
The general rule is no you don’t just turn up at the RV (rendezvous) before the advertised start time; but, be aware that we leave at the appointed time from the appointed place, so don’t be late because we won’t wait! If you are unsure of the exact departure point contact the advertised walk leader for guidance.
On the other hand, when the walk leader offers an optional lunch, menu del día, in association with the walk please do book for the lunch with the walk leader beforehand. Many of the restaurants and bars that we use can’t cope with 20 or 30 people turning up at the same time and demanding lunch; they are after all only microbusinesses! Similarly, if you can’t go please let you walk leader know so that the venue may be informed.
How Can I Help?
We are always on the lookout for new walks, so if you know one, or think something looks as though it might make a good walk, please tell us. If you want us to do something different, or if something isn’t working for you, please tell us. If you think you could help out with walk leading then please let us know.
29th August 2013