How to plan a hillwalking route

How to plan a hillwalking route


Whatever your experience, beginner or expert, planning a route before you go out on the trail is essential.

It’s not just so you don’t get lost. Properly planning a route also lets you bring the most suitable equipment along with you.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide for how to plan a hillwalking route, including some of our top tips.

Step one: find your route

It goes without saying that your hillwalking adventure will be cut short before it even starts if you don’t know where you’re going.

Check your local hiking communities, and look online, for your nearest routes if you don’t want to go too far from home. Or, if you’re making a trip out of it, check out some of the country’s most famous walks.

Whatever you decide, there’s plenty of resources out there. UK Hillwalking’s route cards are especially useful, giving you detailed information on how to reach the start point of a walk as well as some of the landmarks you’ll come across.

Step two: planning how - and when - to get there

Finding out how you reach the start point is essential, even if it’s not actually part of the hillwalking itself.
That’s because some routes are only accessible by car, with no bus routes. Others might have specific conditions to allow entry, like weather or season.

Tidal islands, for example, like the route to Saint Michael’s Mount. These only allow passage during low tide, when water recedes from the path for entry. 
You don’t want to turn up to a place like this at the wrong time, and discover you can’t even get to your destination, or be turned away.

Step three: check the weather and pack accordingly

This is actually a step we recommend close to the day of your hillwalk, perhaps the day before or even the day of. That’s because weather can be fickle and unpredictable, so it’s best to get the most accurate prediction.

Checking the weather has two functions. The first is that it informs you whether you even want to continue with your adventure. Bad weather doesn’t discourage everyone, but families going on a walk with young children might decide on delaying a trip if there’s heavy storms and rain.

The other function is for those who aren’t deterred by nasty weather. Checking the forecast will help you better prepare the equipment you bring with you. It’s the critical difference between choosing to bring your lightweight windbreaker, and your GORE-TEX waterproof shell!

Step four: figure out the length and prepare

Every trail is different, ranging from short walks which take a couple of hours to lengthy multi-day hikes.

That’s why it’s important to figure out exactly how long your trail is going to take. This will allow you to effectively decide how much water and food to bring, as well as the amount of spare clothes. Maybe you’ll even need a tent!

We’d recommend doing this even on short walks. Just one additional hour to your hillwalk can be the difference between having enough food and needing a couple extra snacks.

Sprayway’s top tips

These steps should get you through the majority of walks. But we’ve also got some important tips you should consider, too, to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Check for important points and landmarks. Knowing the places you’re meant to be passing on a hillwalk can prevent you from getting lost. But on longer walks, it’ll also let you know where to find water pumps and other places which will assist you on your journey.

Research specific hazards. On long hillwalks, it’s worth knowing what you’ll face. Whether it’s steep cliff faces or dangerous wildlife, make sure you do your research.

Let people know where you’re going. If anything goes wrong, it’s important that you can be reached as quickly as possible, so letting friends and family know where you’re headed can be a good idea. Maybe even share your route card with them so they know roughly where on the trail you should be.

If you’re looking for some reliable equipment for your next hillwalking trip, take a look at our wide range of products.

And if you find yourself out on the trail in some Sprayway gear, let us know. Send a picture with #Sprayway to our Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and you might feature on our social media.