13Jun2011
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Hiking
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Don’t Underestimate How Beautiful or Dangerous the UK can be…

This is a guest post by camping enthusiast Tom Smithson from The Glow Company. Glow Gear is perfect for camping as they give off light in the dark night as well as adding to the fun of camping. Glow bracelets and sticks are great for identifying your tent, yourself, your kids or even your dog in the dark. There are endless ways you can glow your camping trip!

Hiking in the Peak District UKSoutheast England: Warm Climate but Lacks Elevation

Hailing from the southeast of England I’m spoiled in terms of climate but short-changed for scenery. The rainfall here is the lowest in the country, and although it can be brutally windy and cold in the winter, summer came early this year and when it does arrive it usually sticks around. The downside is that we don’t do hills. It’s a flat and featureless landscape for mile after mile, which doesn’t make for interesting hiking.

The upshot of this is that when I want to go hiking/walking it has to be somewhere else. The Midlands, particularly the Peak District, is a favourite – great scenery and challenging walking that you just don’t get in the southeast. But every time I go hiking in the Peak District UK, I have to remind myself not to get complacent about the weather. Down at sea-level it might be warm and calm; up high it’s a very different story, and it’s easy to come unstuck if you’re under-prepared. Don’t underestimate how beautiful or dangerous the UK can be…

Hiking in the Peak District UK offers a Great Escape

This was brought home to me again a few weeks back on a hiking trip around Kinder Scout, the highest point of the Peak District. It’s a staggeringly beautiful area: lakes and rivers, hills, forest and moors all around you. But although we were only three hours drive from home, it was clear “we weren’t in Kansas any more, Toto”.

It doesn’t matter if it’s steady summer down south: in the Peaks it can switch between warm sun and driving, icy rain and hail in a matter of minutes. The hiking trails in the Peak District are some of the most scenic parts of the area are almost non-existent and it’s easy to lose your way – paths just evaporate, leaving you in the middle of the gorse and wondering which way to turn. Maps are handy up to a point, but the paths can quickly evolve and move, soon rendering earlier maps out of date.

Don’t get Caught in the DarkThe Peak District UK

The top of Kinder Scout – not a difficult climb, and an easy hike to get there – was a different world. Dusk comes in quickly, and you suddenly realize you’re not playing by the same rules any more. Snapping a couple of glow sticks to check the map was pretty fruitless (I prefer them to torches for map-reading since they’re kinder on the eyes; glow bracelets, on the same theme, are a handy way of marking each other in the dark and have become a regular addition to my rucksack). The level of detail wasn’t useful and the terrain is – whilst quite an amazing mixture of black, peaty hillocks, boulder-strewn riverbeds and gorse plains – not blessed with landmarks.

As night fell, we realized that getting off the top should be a priority. The paths down are hard to find and sometimes steep and hazardous, especially in the dark. Fanning out to increase our chances of locating a safe one (this is where the glow sticks and glow in the dark bracelets come into their own), it hit me that getting stuck up there without the right equipment could mean a miserable night at best, and serious risk of exposure and even death at worst. The path down we finally found was difficult enough in the dark. If it had been raining too, it could have been a disaster.

Much of this is just common sense: the old cub-scout motto of ‘Be Prepared’. But it’s worth knowing what you’re preparing for. If you’re used to better conditions and different landscapes, it can be too easy to underestimate what you’ll meet. The upside, of course, is that hiking in the Peak District has some fabulous views that rival just about anywhere else you care to name.

The Author: Tom Smithson

Edited By: CampTrip.com

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