How to start exploring the Great Outdoors

January 2021

Every week we watch @roamwithadam’s Instagram stories with envy as he gets out and about and explores some of the UK’s most beautiful walks. So we thought we’d ask him a few questions about how he got started and decided to share his answers with you!

Man with back to camera in a red jacket overlooking a valley.

How did you get into hiking and exploring?

My real passion growing up was playing football every weekend, but that came to a stop due to an ongoing hip injury. With me working in the city Monday to Friday I always had football as my kind of release. Once that stopped a few years ago I got into the gym but it didn’t quite cut it so me and a few friends decided to hike Snowdon. I’d never been to Wales or seen any mountains before and I was blown away by the beauty of it, so after that we did Scafell Pike in the Lake District and Ben Nevis in Scotland. I then looked into locations closer to home in the Peak District; it’s not the most challenging area but there are some stunning spots to explore. The more I did, the bigger the mountain I wanted to climb, or the harder route I wanted to find. Now I find myself in one of the UK’s national parks most weekends.

So I want to work my way up from weekend walks to longer walks/hikes, how should I do it?

Personally I’d look into which mountain you like the look of and look for the most popular route, usually these are relatively easy going and you can find these by purchasing an OS map, downloading the app, or simply googling it. There are plenty of helpful websites with routes, maps, distance, elevation, parking etc. Another thing to take into account is the forecast; if you’re new to hiking it’s important to choose a day that’s calm weather, this will make the experience much more enjoyable too. The main thing is to take your time and enjoy the outdoors!

Man walking up a hill in a valley wearing a blue puffer jackets and shorts.

What are the essentials you take with you for every walk?

Ensure you have a sturdy pair of walking boots, a map or a route downloaded to your phone, water (I take a filtered water bottle which allows me to fill up on the move in any fresh water source), outdoor clothing (in the mountains the forecast can change very quickly so better to be over prepared) a power bank to keep your phone charged, and food (i.e snacks and sweets). Don’t underestimate the time it can take to complete a mountain and always make sure you have these essentials.

Do these essentials change from season to season?

I’d recommend a larger rucksack for extra clothing, layers, hats, gloves etc. for the winter months. Also a portable gas stove comes in handy for colder hikes - a coffee or a hot meal is appreciated when it’s cold up at the top. Footwear will also change depending if there’s snow, you’ll possibly need spikes or crampons, and always take a head torch out with you in the winter as it gets dark early. In the summer extra water and maybe even sun cream!

Man in outdoors wearing a rucksack with hiking equipment.

What are your favorite walks in the UK?

That’s a tough one, there are many beautiful places and I still have so many places to explore, but Great Gable in the Lake District is stunning, it’s the greatest view in England for me and there’s also many different routes to the summit which means you can do the same mountain over and over and never get bored. I love Ladybower in the Peak District, again a lot of routes around and easily accessible, the perfect location if you’re new to hiking.

Any top tips for budding hikers?

The great outdoors can be beautiful but the forecast can be unpredictable so always prepare for the unknown by having extra water, food or waterproof clothing. Research the walk, ensure parking is close by and tell a friend or family member where you are going.

I wouldn’t be put off by the bigger mountains, but at first go with a friend and ensure you start early, take your time and enjoy it. There’s no medal for who completes it in the fastest time so appreciate where you are and enjoy the views!

Man walking up a cliff in hiking clothes, overlooking a body of water.

How do you plan your routes?

When deciding on what mountain I want to hike, I look for the best view, which usually involves looking over a body of water, whether that be a lake, a tarn, loch or reservoir.

I have the OS Maps app; it’s handy as you can download routes offline so you aren’t reliant on mobile signal, and you can find routes or create your own. Alternatively you can use Bing maps which offers the ordnance survey maps with a key showing which routes/lines are a public path. Google search offers many sites with information which will help you, also Mountain Forecast and the Met Office to help you enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

A huge reason I’ve enjoyed hiking so much is due to Instagram, I use this as a platform to get inspired by other users and ask about the different routes. It’s a fantastic community and I have made some great friends on there.

What do you look for when choosing your hiking boots and coat?

If you can, initially pop into your local outdoor store and try a few pairs on for size and comfort and take into account the kind of terrain you’ll be hiking on, whether that be an icy mountain, in snow, a wet forest in the rain or a dry day in the peaks. Then jump online to find the best deal and style that you like. I ensure my footwear and jacket are both waterproof regardless of the weather as you never know. If the product is Gore-tex even better. It’s quite daunting making that decision but I’ve found after wearing a number of different brands, it’s all very similar so why not pick something you like the look of.

Man tying up a pair of walking boots.

We’d like to say a huge thanks to Adam for his advice, he’s certainly got us reaching for our waterproofs! Want to keep up with Adam’s adventures too? Go and follow him on Instagram!

Want to learn more about what clothing you should wear walking? Check out our walking about guide, as well as our advice on walking boots and walking jackets!

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