One of the many draws about walking in Britain is that you can do it as part of a group or you can do it alone. Although there are big “rambling” associations which promote communal walking, other people prefer to enjoy the tranquillity of walking alone. If you do decide to walk alone, it is important that you take special precautions to keep you safe. Here are some tips for safe walking when you are by yourself.
Know your limitations
When you are planning your route for the day, you need to consider your own limitations. A healthy walker will normally cover about 3 to 4 miles per hour over even ground, but distance covered per hour will reduce when going uphill or over boggy terrain. You should learn how quickly you normally walk, so that you can accurately plan your route for the day.
Knowing your limitations will help you to plan a route that you can do without putting yourself in danger or without getting into difficulties. If you are planning a full days walk, you should make sure that you will get back before the sun sets. It is a good idea to plan the walk so that it finishes at least an hour before sunset, so that you won’t get caught out if you are delayed for whatever reason.
Before you head off on a walk, you should inform someone about where you are going and what time you expect to be back by. This means that they will be able to take appropriate action if you are not back by the time that you originally expected to arrive. In most cases, this will just involve them giving you a call on your phone to see whether you have been delayed. On the other hand, they will have a rough idea of where you might be if they cannot get in contact with you. This will be a great help in the unlikely event that a search party needs to be mobilised.
If you are on a residential trip and walking away from home, you should tell the receptionist at your hotel so that they will be aware of your planned movements.
When you go out walking by yourself, it is normal to have to carry a bit more weight so that you can make sure that you have adequate provisions and all of the necessary safety equipment. On the other hand, if you are walking as part of a group it is possible to carry necessary safety equipment (torch, bivvy bag etc) spread evenly across the group.
You should make sure that you have enough food to keep you going throughout the day, but you should also pack some high calorie emergency rations as well. Walkers should always take plenty of water (or other suitable beverage) with them, as dehydration seriously affects energy levels.
If you go out walking by yourself, you should always carry a mobile phone with you. You should make sure that it is charged up before you head out. If the phone has a short battery life, keep it turned off in case you need it later on.
There is no phone signal in many rural areas in Britain, but carrying a mobile phone with you will allow you to contact the emergency services as soon as possible if something does happen. It is worth noting that it should be possible to call 999 using any network, even if you do not have phone signal with your standard network provider.
Stick to footpaths
When you are walking on your own, you should always stick to footpaths or stay within the boundaries of open access areas. Staying in these areas will make it much easier for search teams to find you if they need to come out to look for you for whatever reason. What is more, you may be trespassing if you walk away from the footpath in certain areas. These areas may not be safe, which means that you might actually be putting yourself in harm’s way.
Trust your instincts
If you are not feeling particularly comfortable about doing something, you should avoid doing it. For example, if you are worried about the changes in the weather, then you should trust your instincts and change your plans accordingly. Your instincts are built on knowledge and experience, and should therefore be relied on when you are out by yourself. This inner voice acts as a companion and helps you to make important decisions about your own safety. You should never take unnecessary risks whilst you are out walking by yourself.