Walking is a sociable, fun and healthy lifelong activity, and whether it’s walking in your local park or taking on the challenge of a day-walk on one of the many trails around the country, good planning and preparation will always make the experience more enjoyable. The following offers some tips and advice from experienced walking enthusiast Jean Boydell on how to get into trail walking in Ireland, and generally how to get organised for your walk. We hope if helps you in getting out there and active on Ireland's great trails network.
New To Walking?
If you are new to walking, why not start with well-known walks close to where you live, such as in a local park or along a beach. As you get comfortable with these you can venture further afield, trying something a little harder as you grow in confidence.
Move on to easy walks, mostly level with a good underfoot surface. It is better to do a walk well within your capabilities than to exhaust yourself. Build up slowly to increase your fitness.
When walking, take your time, pace yourself and enjoy your surroundings and if you feel as if you are getting tired, don’t be afraid to rest or turn back!
Some Advice and Tips - Before you Go
Some pre-walk planning is always required to ensure an enjoyable and safe day out.
· Choose a walk that is suitable for you. Allow plenty of time – at least 1 hour for every 4km, and add extra time for any uphill sections, rests, eating, taking photos, etc.
· Find out as much as you can about the walk and how to get there in advance by referring to some of the websites highlighted in this publication.
· Print off a downloadable map, study it and bring it or a hard copy map with you.
· Check the daily weather forecast, and be aware of dusk times as you should plan to finish the walk before then.
· Plan and pack whatever you need for your walk in advance, including all necessary clothing, a snack, drink and camera.
· If venturing on a moderate or higher grade walk, in addition to the above also bring a torch, whistle and extra clothing.
Footwear and Clothing Tips
Comfortable footwear and clothing is essential for walking:
· Normal outdoor footwear, such as regular runners, are suitable for most multi-access and easy or short walks, and also walks in Coillte Forests. For moderate walks, strong walking shoes or walking boots should be worn. Essentail for higher grade walks are strong walking boots that give your ankles support and keep your feet dry for at least most of the day.
· In terms of clothing, loose light layers are recommended for walking.
- A wicker layer is the layer worn close to your skin and is designed to take perspiration away from the skin to the outside of the garment, keeping you warm.
- A light fleece and a waterproof jacket are also good items to have, and on wet days a waterproof over-pants is also useful. On colder days a warm hat and gloves help to keep you warm. In hot weather bring sunscreen and a sunhat.
· It can be useful to have a comfortable backpack to hold your gear when out walking.
· For your safety it is recommended that you never walk alone in isolated areas, and that you always let someone know where you are going and when you should be expected back.
· Bring a mobile phone and make sure it is fully charged.
· If you get lost, stay calm, look at what’s around you, think where you have walked and the last place you saw a waymarker or signpost. Study the map and try to work out your location. Look for alternative routes such as tracks or roads to get you back onto the correct trail and be prepared to retrace your steps.
· If it is an emergency or accident assess the situation and work out a plan of action. If there is a casualty make him/her as warm and comfortable as possible.
For Mountain Rescue telephone 999 or 112
If accident is serious telephone the Mountain Rescue Service on 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue - (but only in a genuine emergency!)