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Timberland Guide to Countryside Walking and Hiking

2024-05-13

Timberland Guide to Countryside Walking and Hiking

Stepping out of your front door and embarking on a countryside walk or hike has become a popular hobby for many in recent times. In fact, 2020 saw the highest number of miles walked per person in England since 2002, with the average person walking 220 miles in the year. With so many benefits to be had from countryside walking and hiking, this figure comes as no surprise.

In this guide, we’ll detail everything you need to know about countryside walks and hikes, the equipment you need and how you can find a route best suited to your ability in your local area or beyond. Let’s get stuck in!

Timberland Walking Shoes

What is the difference between walking and hiking?

While walking and hiking are both year-round activities that involve getting out and about to walk in the great outdoors, they are technically quite different. Walks are typically shorter in duration than hikes and tend to be enjoyed for leisure on a casual basis. They can take place over several different terrains, too, from an urban environment to a paved walking trail.

Hikes, on the other hand, are usually much longer and take place in more rugged locations like mountains or hiking trails. Hikes tend to comprise a variety of different terrains and elevations and are often much more strenuous than a regular walk in the countryside.

Beginners guide to hiking and countryside walks

With many different types and locations to choose from, there is a hike and walk out there to suit every beginner, whether you’re based close to coastal walks or your locale offers a selection of rural countryside walks and hikes.

It’s a good idea to start by thinking about what has inspired you to start walking or hiking before you decide on a route. Have you recently watched a programme about the benefits of walking on television, or have you been listening to a local podcast that got you wondering what hikes are just outside your front door? By understanding what kick-started your attraction, you can research routes best suited to your interests.

How to find a suitable walk or hike

With over 140,000 miles of footpaths in the UK, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a suitable countryside walk for any ability. If it’s more of a hike you’re looking for, the UK has tonnes of hills and mountains in all corners of the country.

A quick Google search will give you plenty of walking and hiking locations for all skill levels, with many providing detailed information about each of the routes. Some websites even include a comprehensive guide to walking or hiking in each location, listing close-by amenities, types of terrain, parking and different routes you can take. If you have found a walk or hike within a national park or large reserve, the routes might also be graded by difficulty level, enabling you to select a route best suited to your ability.

For those looking for local groups to join, it’s a great idea to look at local social media groups. These days, there’s a group for just about everything! Alternatively, you can use websites and apps like Walking for Health, Ramblers or Meetup to help connect you with other walkers and hikers in your area.

If you’re keen to discover a new location or explore one of the country’s long walks, it might be an idea to join a walking tour. If you’re planning a trip to a national park or country estate that’s open to the public, it’s worth taking a look at their website to find out if a walking tour is available.

National Trails is also a great resource for walking tours and discovering some of the UK’s best walks. There are 16 trails to choose from around the UK, with each managed to a set of Quality Standards to ensure they are the best in the country. You can even book a walking tour or holiday through one of their travel operators, enabling you to get the very best from your trip.

When searching for a suitable hike, it can be overwhelming with the amount of information online. Rather than a general Google search, it might be better to use a hiking app like Alltrails to help you whittle down the best hike for you. The Alltrails’ app enables you to browse over 15,000 hiking trails in England alone, filtering by location, length, difficulty and even elevation. It’s a great place to start for those new to hiking.

What equipment do you need for countryside walks?

A quick meander around the block of your home won’t require much equipment other than a good pair of shoes, but once you go farther afield and experience more rugged terrains and weather, you’ll likely need to invest in some specialist walking gear.

To start with, you’ll need to ensure you have the right clothing and footwear for your walk. Footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll need for any walk, so we’d suggest starting with some walking boots for beginners to ensure your feet are well-looked after on any terrain.

For countryside walks, you could opt for either a walking boot or walking shoe, depending on your preference. Walking shoes typically have less ankle support and are similar in style to trainers, which can be great if you’re likely to break into a short jog or prefer to wear shoes with a lower ankle. The Timberland Sprint Trekker Trainer is a great choice for those looking to pair practicality with style.

Walking boots, like the Mt Maddsen Hiking Boot, are great for longer or more strenuous walks, offering optimal support and practicality wherever your walk may take you. Of course, you can wear your boots for any walk, and not just those that require more support or durability. Once you’ve found the perfect pair, don’t forget your walking socks!

Embarking on a countryside walk in the UK could mean you’re exposed to several weather fronts in one day, so you should also ensure you’re equipped with the right clothing. We’d suggest a lightweight raincoat like the Outdoor Heritage Windbreaker, which can be packed into a small backpack when you don’t need it. Layers are also a good idea – think long sleeve thermals or fleeces in winter, with t-shirts and light layers in the summer.

Ensuring you’ve got the right clothing and footwear is the first step in making sure you’re ready for whatever the British weather throws at you. If you’re heading out on a longer walk, you’ll also want to take some water, a charged mobile phone, sun protection if it’s sunny and perhaps a light snack for any pit stops.

What equipment do you need for a hike?

While hiking requires much of the same equipment as walking, there are a few additional items you’ll need depending on the type of hike you are setting out on.

For your first hike, you’ll definitely need some decent hiking boots to support your feet for the duration of your route. The Timberland Splitrock Nubuck Mid Hikers are good hiking boots for beginners, offering a padded collar for ankle cushioning and a lightweight feel that ensures your feet are comfortable the whole time.

Whether you’re hiking in summer or winter, wearing the right clothing for the season is essential. But while you might think thick clothing is good for the colder months, wearing garments like jeans or thick hoodies can actually make you sweat more and cause you to be uncomfortable. Like walking, we’d suggest sticking to layers and adding or removing as necessary.

Your outerwear should always include a pair of quick-drying waterproof trousers and a waterproof lightweight jacket. Long leggings or tights are also a great addition to your hiking wardrobe, especially if you’re planning on hiking through rugged terrains where an extra layer of protection against scrapes from bushes will be welcome.

When it comes to accessories and hiking equipment, there are a few additional things you’ll need. At a minimum, we’d recommend a good winter hat and gloves, energy-boosting snacks, plenty of water, a map, a first-aid kit and a sturdy backpack to carry everything in.

Of course, the size of your backpack will depend on what you’ll be carrying in it, but we’d suggest something durable, water-resistant and with plenty of pockets and compartments like the Dardin Zip-Top Backpack. If you’re looking for something multi-functional with ample space for everything you need on a long or overnight hike, the Dardin Hiker Backpack is the best choice.

No matter where you choose to embark on your first countryside walk or hike, having the right gear to support you on your adventure is essential. At Timberland, our products have been designed to pair style with practicality, ensuring there is something to suit every explorer.