Winter Walking Tips For Scotland

Doug Williams
 
Photo credit: Luis Ascenso Photography
 
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There’s no excuse for staying inside this winter when you could be enjoying Scotland’s amazing outdoors, even if it is cold outside. The best way to enjoy Scotland is by having some brisk walks its the beautiful environment.

Take a look at our walking tips before you start your trek to ensure you get the most out of your walks this winter.

Health Benefits

Make the most of the winter sunshine and soak up the Vitamin D by walking often.

Even a 15-minute walk at lunchtime will help to expel SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and general winter blues.

Route Planning

Plan a walk which has a café or pub on the way, so you can go in and get warm or find a sheltered bench for a rest halfway around your stroll.

Be prepared and watch the weather! In Scotland it can change quickly, particularly in ‘the highlands’. Winter days are short, so you might find yourself inadvertently ending your jaunt in the dark.

If you’re inexperienced, go walking with someone else to build your confidence.

On windy days, take a walk in more sheltered areas like woodlands or forests, which will be better than walking on the hills or coastlines.

On a reasonably straight route, try to plan your walk to have the wind behind you.

Scottish mountains in the winter can be dangerous, so make sure you pack a map, compass and wear warm clothes, proper boots, and take some waterproofs with you. Take a headlamp and extra batteries, a flask with a hot drink, and plenty of food.

Scotland is very windy and in high altitude, the wind chill can be severe, so make sure you’re properly equipped with warm, windproof clothing and avoid exposure to high ridges.

Don’t stretch your limits and never go beyond them – if you’re not familiar with walking on snow and ice and haven’t got the right equipment (or knowledge of how to use it), stop and turn back.

Safety

Always check the weather forecast before you set out, especially if you’re heading into the hills (two of the best sources are the Met Office and the Mountain Weather Information Service). Fog, cold temperatures, mist, snow, and rain are the obvious hazards, but strong winds can pose an obstacle as well.

The mountains of Scotland during winter conditions can be very challenging. Ensure you know how to assess avalanche conditions and when you need to bring an ice ax and crampons.

During the winter, the Scottish Avalanche Information Service provides specific details of snow conditions.

  Equipment & Clothing

Wear clothing and footwear that is both comfortable and sturdy, as well as being suitable for the conditions and the terrain.

Wear several thin layers of clothing, they’re better than one thick layer. You can take off some of the thin layers as you warm up, and put them on if you get cold.

Bring along a good waterproof jacket and waterproof pants.

Wear gloves, a hat and take a scarf with you – the Scottish wind can find its way into every fissure of your clothing!

A small backpack is much more comfortable than an ordinary bag while walking.

When going for a longer walk, take some food with you. High energy snacks like a flapjack oat bar, chocolate or dried fruit and nuts, and possibly a flask containing a hot drink are all excellent choices, Ramblers reported.

Consider taking a cell phone with you and ensure that someone knows where you’re going and when you are expected to return.

If you are walking on roads after dark, remember to walk facing the traffic and wear some reflective clothing.

A watch is useful as a backup to your mobile phone.