Staying safe should be of prime concern when heading to the hills this winter.
Here we have five safety tips courtesy of OutdoorLook.co.uk which has released these as part of a campaign to increase safety awareness...
Fell walking is generally more physically demanding than hiking so if you are new to walking or to exercise in general, start small and build up the pace slowly with regular short walks to increase your fitness levels. Determine before you set out whether you are physically up for the challenge and if you have any concerns or medical issues chat to your GP first.
Whatever the Weather
Fast changing weather is always an issue for hikers, but if you are fell walking the chances of a dramatic and dangerous change are increased significantly the higher you climb. Never rely on the national weather forecast - check the local weather on the morning of your walk and keep a look out for any signs that the weather is changing - particularly as you head to higher ground. If the weather begins to change, turn back - even a little rain could be unsafe on hilly or uneven hillsides.
The consequences of people wandering out into the hills for a nice walk are almost always disastrous. The peaks can be a very daunting place � especially if the weather changes and you lose your bearings. Plan your route before you set out and make sure you know exactly where you are going and when you expect to be back. Inform somebody of your plans - a friend, family member, hotel owner or pub landlord and let them know you are back safely when you return. You do not want people out searching for you while you are having a pint in a pub!
A well-prepared backpack is essential. Hopefully you will carry your kit on a hundred walks without ever needing most of it, but if the worst does happen you need to be equipped. Items should include waterproof and warm clothing and spare clothes � no matter how sunny the weather is when you set out -, a good map and compass, first aid kit, torch and batteries, food and water and a mobile phone. Thermal survival bags can be bought cheaply from all good hiking equipment outlets and can make all the difference you become ill or injured and need to stay warm.
Get Your Bearings
The higher you climb, the lower visibility can become and in bad weather it can be impossible to see any land features. This dramatically increases the risk of getting lost which can often lead to disaster. Take bearings regularly in good weather so you have had plenty of practice if the weather changes. The more experience you have at taking bearings the better your chances of survival in torrential rain or a white out.