Before Walking

What should I bring?

As we all know, the British weather is unpredictable at best, so we always plan for the worst when deciding what kit to take. We also offer a wide variety of walks too and the type of walk (e.g. terrain and duration) will also be a factor.

Please take the time to read at least the essential and recommended items listed below. We still get people arriving on walks who are unprepared and we don't want you to be turned away or be uncomfortable on a walk. Thanks!

You can email the Walks Coordinator in case of any further queries.

Food and Drink

Flat/Valley walk Essential
Packed lunch
~1 litre drink

Mountain walk Essential
Packed lunch
At least 1-2 litres drink

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Food: Almost all of our walks include a picnic style lunch stop where you'll need to bring your own food. Energy food such as snack bars and sweets always go down well for sustainance, especially if they are of the shareable variety!
High energy mountain food - Snickers, nuts or Malt Loaf if the taste agrees!
Note that although there may be pub stops, it is unlikely that there will be time to eat at pubs, as the pubs may be very busy, or there may be a large group walking.

Drinks: Drinks bottles are fine for easier walks. For longer or mountain walks, a camelback or platypus style drinks carrier offers better convenience. On a long mountain walk on a hot day, you may need 2-3 litres of water.

A flask of coffee or hot chocolate can be very welcome during a break, especially on a mountain walk!

Walking Boots

Flat/Valley walk Essential
- unless otherwise specified on walk description for very short or urban walks

Mountain walk Essential

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Why boots? Won't trainers do? Well, no - they won't keep your feet dry (think long wet grass, boggy moorland, streams and muddy fields) and they offer very little ankle support on rough paths (mountain walks especially), making twisting an ankle far easier.

Walking trousers or shorts

Flat/Valley walk Essential

Mountain walk Essential

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Why? Sorry - no jeans please. It's happened before where someone has become cold, uncomfortable and miserable after getting their jeans wet early on during a walk. This is an inconvenience at best and a liability at worst, especially on exposed higher level walks. Walking trousers dry far more quickly and are more comfortable when wet.

Rucksack

Flat/Valley walk Essential
Daysack, approx 15 litre

Mountain walk Essential
Larger daysack or backpack, approx 30+ litre

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A small daysack (15-20 litre) is ideal for shorter lower level walks, whereas a larger backpack (30 litres) is more suitable to hilly/mountain areas to carry additional food/water and warm clothing.

Waterproofs

Flat/Valley walk Recommended
Waterproof Jacket and Over-trousers

Mountain walk Essential
Waterproof Jacket and Over-trousers
Essential for mountain environments

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No Umbrellas: Not recommended as they won't keep you dry in the wind and will get in the way on tougher mountain walks.

Waterproof Jacket: Not too bulky so it'll fit in the rucksack when not needed.  Breathable materials are better for mountain walks, such as Goretex or other variants.

Waterproof Trousers: Lightweight preferred, with the exception of mountain scrambles, where a tougher material is more appropriate.
but not too flimsy.

Waterproofs are essential for mountain environments where weather conditions may deteriorate rapidly. They also offer protection from wind-chill, which is much more of a factor in mountain environments.

Warm & comfortable clothing

Flat/Valley walk Recommended
+ gloves and fleece

Mountain walk Essential
Gloves and hat essential.

Layered system recommended.

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The choice of clothing is dependent on the type of walk - see below in each category:

For easier walks, a spare fleece and gloves should be in the bag (remember you will feel cooler on lunch stops).

For mountain walks, a layered system of breathable fabrics is preferred (not cotton, which retains perspiration and will be uncomfortable when damp).
For example:

Base Layer
Wicking breathable fabric, e.g. polyester. Merino wool offers the best for warmth and comfort.

Mid-layer
Light fleece or synthetic fibre.

Outer layer
Heavier fleece or synthetic.

Gloves
Gloves need to be waterproof for the hills, otherwise they will be cold when wet.

Hat
Fleece preferable to wool as it is more windproof.

First-Aid Kit

Flat/Valley walk Recommended

Mountain walk Recommended

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Even on short walks, it's always useful to have a couple of plasters handy in the case of blisters or other minor mishaps.  Compede is useful for blisters in the early stages and is available at most outdoor shops.
For hills or mountain walking, minor cuts and abrasions can and do occur, so a few extra items such as swabs, dressings, tape and antiseptic cream will be useful. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for pain killers.
LifeSystems do a conveniently sized pocket first-aid pouch, also available at most outdoor stores.

Walking Poles

Flat/Valley walk Optional

Mountain walk Recommended
Useful for ascent, more so for descent.

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The popularity of walking poles is steadily increasing as more people realise the benefits of them - this includes people of all ages. Poles offer a better spread of effort on ascent, taking some of the load off the legs and onto the arms. The same concept applies more so during descent due to the additional shock loading which would otherwise be present on the knee joints.
Poles are best used in pairs to balance your gait.

Torch

Flat/Valley walk Optional
Unless otherwise advised

Mountain walk Recommended

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A torch isn't usually needed for easier walks, but do check the walk write-up as the short daylight hours during winter and evening walks during the summer mean that walks can sometimes finish at or after dusk.

Recommended for mountain walks during summer and winter months.

Extras

Flat/Valley walk Optional
Sit mat

Mountain walk Recommended
Sit mat, whistle, survival bag

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Sit mat: these cost next to nothing, don't take up much space and provide a welcome perch during a lunch break when everyone else has nicked the best seats...

Whistle & Survival bag: Useful in the case of emergencies on the hill for attracting attention and keeping warm. Survival bags also offer a convenient way of attaining a faster descent down a suitably snowy hillside - not that we officially condone that sort of thing of course!


When Walking

  • DO follow the Countryside Code

  • DO inform the Walks Leader IMMEDIATELY and in person of ANY problems on the walk. Please help us to help you - if we are not made aware of a situation, there is nothing we can do.

  • DO listen carefully to the Walk Leader's introduction and information about the walk.

  • If you have any questions or queries, please DO speak up.

  • DO NOT walk ahead of the Walk Leader.

  • Many walks are 'day walks' intended to have a duration of over 4-5 hours. If you have a pressing engagement after the walk, check before starting the walk that the walk finishes in good time. DO NOT walk off to return to the car or train station without informing the Walk Leader in person, as this might trigger an unnecessary search.

YOUNG ADULTS AND CHILDREN: Walkers must be 18+ or accompanied by an adult holding parental responsibility.

DOGS: Dogs are welcome, as long as they travel in the owner's car and are kept under control, on a leash as and when appropriate. For train walks, please refer to the relevant Train Operating Company's policy.

DISCLAIMER: Everybody who walks with MAD Walkers does so at their own risk. That is not to say we only do gruelling treks for the fitness elite nor walk in unsafe areas. Check out the programme to see the variety on offer. We aim to cater for all! However, the outdoors can be challenging and potentially dangerous, we as part of a charity cannot accept responsibility for the safety of people on our walks nor weekends away. Talk to the walks leaders or email us for further friendly advice.

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