Safety in the Hills - key points

Safety in the Hills - key points

Before heading out into the hills there are some safety points you need to think about.

This article looks at some tips to ensure your safety while walking in the hills.

  1. Plan your route: Before heading out, thoroughly plan your route and familiarise yourself with the area. Take into account the terrain, distance, and difficulty level. Check for any potential hazards along the way.

  2. Inform others: Let someone know about your hiking plans, including your intended route, estimated time of return, and emergency contact details. This way, if something goes wrong, someone will know where to look for you.

  3. Check weather conditions: Keep an eye on weather conditions and be prepared for changes. Check the forecast before you leave, and if there are any severe weather warnings, consider postponing your hike. Bad weather can quickly make walking in the hills dangerous.

  4. Dress appropriately: Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the terrain and weather conditions. Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed. Use moisture-wicking and breathable materials to stay dry and comfortable.

  5. Carry essential equipment: Pack essential gear, including a map, compass, and/or GPS device. Bring a fully charged mobile phone, extra batteries or a power bank, a whistle, a headtorch, a first aid kit and extra food and water. Consider taking a walking stick for stability, especially on steep or uneven terrain.

  6. Stay hydrated and nourished: Carry an adequate supply of water and snacks to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels. Drink regularly, even if you don't feel thirsty, and consume high-energy foods to keep yourself fuelled.

  7. Pace yourself: Walk at a comfortable pace that suits your fitness level. Take regular breaks to rest and rehydrate. If you're new to hill walking, start with shorter and less challenging routes before progressing to longer or more difficult ones.

  8. Stay on marked path: Stick to designated paths and avoid straying off-trail, as this can lead to accidents or damage to fragile ecosystems. Follow any posted signs or guidance from local authorities.

  9. Be cautious of wildlife and livestock: If you encounter wildlife or livestock during your walk, keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing them. Do not feed or approach them, as this can be dangerous.

  10. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and be mindful of potential hazards such as steep slopes, loose rocks, cliffs, or sudden changes in weather. Use your senses to stay aware of any changes in the environment.

  11. Stay connected: In areas with mobile network coverage, keep your phone handy for emergencies. However, be aware that some remote locations may not have signal reception, so don't rely solely on your phone. A two-way satellite communicatorcan be a great option when you have no mobile phone signal.

  12. Follow local guidelines and regulations: Respect any specific guidelines or restrictions in the area you're walking. These may include rules for dog walkers, restrictions during nesting seasons, or protected areas.

    Remember, safety should always be your top priority when walking in the hills. Enjoy the experience, but also be prepared, cautious, and responsible throughout your journey.

Do you think we have missed anything? If so please leave a comment below.

Further reading 

1. Stop using smartphones to navigate with.

2. A small anecdote - our training in action

3. What happens when you press the SOS button on a Garmin inReach


  • Norman Flack

    I would add a note to register your mobile with 999 to enable you to text the emergency services in an area where you can’t make a call.

  • Peter Gill

    Excellent advice in your article. I would add…..1 – Sun hat and suncream even on a cloudy day. 2 – If walking with others, try and ensure you have a spread of mobile networks. My wife and I are always on different networks to give better chance of a signal. 3 – If doing a one way walk using public transport, t

  • Susan Dolan

    Hi, I hope it’s still current, there is a service for deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired people to register their mobile phone with the emergency services, in order to make contact with the emergency services via text, please see link below. Obviously only useful in places where you can text.

  • Tony Lewis

    Another good item of emergency equipment to carry is a whistle, six blasts a minute is the recognised distress signal.

  • Derek JONES

    Don’t forget the humble whistle! Carrying of a loud whistle is also a useful item if you need to attract attention or assistance if you have no other option.
    There are a stated number of blasts some state; “The international distress signal is 6 blasts of a whistle every minute. The recognised reply is 3 blasts every minute.”
    “Three loud, short blasts on your survival whistle, each lasting approximately three seconds.”
    Think any loud continuous blasts would hopefully draw attention and help or one could even blast out in Morse code the SOS. SOS three short, three long, three short. ▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ ▄ although not many may know it unless they have some military or mountaineer background.

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