Side-stepping floods and avoiding mud�

...the walker's guide to escaping the winter storms.

As another huge Atlantic storm lines the British Isles up in its sights and prepares to deposit several billion more litres of water on an already saturated country,we look at how walkers can make the best of a bad job...


Go where lots of water is a good thing

All that precipitation means rivers are in spate, and there's no better place to see rainfall tumble over rock than the Waterfall Country of Pontneddfechan in the Brecon Beacons� (in the right conditions, you might even be able to walk behind one of them, namely Sgwd yr Eira�)

Walk here - Pontneddfechan Waterfalls, Powys!


Chalk it up

The free-draining chalk of the South Downs ridgeline rarely gets boggy, so it's a good bet for walkers wanting to keep their feet dry(ish). Head up from Fulking to the top of Devil's Dyke for a skylining walk above the Sussex Weald.

Walk here - The Devil's Dyke, West Sussex!


Hit the limestone

Limestone is also permeable, allowing water to drain off limestone landscapes like the Yorkshire Dales more quickly leaving it drier under foot than areas with non-permeable rock under the soil. Watch out for exposed limestone, of course - it gets exceedingly slippery when wet - but stick to places where the limestone is doing its job underground, as it does on our walk from Hawes in Wensleydale.

Walk here - Hawes, Yorkshire Dales!


Get High!

Lowland valleys are obviously going to be the first to flood when the weather turns heavy and wet. Add to that any open and gently sloping moorland, in which you're likely to sink to your knees (or worse) at irregular intervals. So, best to avoid the flattish landscapes (ie anything in England south of the Lakes) and head up to the high ground from which the water runs off first. High on Helvellyn or Ben Macdui or Snowdon or the Glyders you're likely to find much colder weather too, compacting the ground and creating a landscape ripe with adventure.


Tackle a ridgeline

Rocky terrain simply doesn't hold any soil, which means it can't get soggy and turn to mud. So if you've got the skills and the desire, head onto scrambling ground to avoid the watery apocalypse brewing on the plains below.


Follow an ex-railway line

Thanks to the naughty Dr Beeching and several other penny-pinchers over the years, Britain has dozens of former railway lines, many of which have been converted into pleasantly-solid and mostly mud-free walking trails.

Our favourites are the Monsal Trail in the Peak District, the Camel Trail in Cornwall, the Keswick Railway Footpath in the Lakes (a lovely short trail jinking through the wooded ravines beneath Latrigg and Blencathra) and the Mawddach Trail, running from Barmouth to Dolgellau along the Mawddach Estuary. You'll be sharing the track with runners and cyclists, but at least the quality of the surface means you'll keep your boots (mostly) clean. 


Use the train (or the bus)

Wandering on the high, dry paths of the Cotswolds, Chilterns or Malverns is wonderful � but as with any upland surrounded by lowland, it can be hard to create a circular walk without returning through endless churned-up field paths. So don't! Instead think linear: each of those ranges has decent transport links, so plan a linear walk which does away with the trudgy return, and rides back in style. The same is true of our coastal paths, too � especially the South West Coast Path and Norfolk Coast Path. Try Boscastle to Tintagel on the former, or Sheringham to Cley-next-the-Sea on the latter!  



Head for the city

It's not everyone's cup of tea - especially if you work in one - but why not explore another city on foot? Get hold of a city guide to outline the contexts and plot a circular route to take in all the highlights using the maps therein.

London has hundreds of acres of green space to explore while Edinburgh has fantastic viewpoints like Arthur's Seat and there's a much more varied selection of pubs to dive into for lunch!


Catch a mountain movie

The legendary Banff Mountain Film Festival is back on the road for the fifth time, visiting over 40 different countries and inspiring over 300,000 people. The festival � which is currently in the middle of its UK leg � screens the latest movies from the mountain sports community, showcasing epic adventures from all around the globe. Check out the festival trailer here � � and see the list below for February's UK locations.

5 Feb Shrewsbury
6-7 Feb Keswick
8 Feb Llandudno
12-13 Feb  Leeds
14 Feb Glasgow
15-16 Feb Stockport
19 Feb Dorking
20 Feb Bath
21 Feb Birmingham
22 Feb Derby
26 Feb Abingdon
27 Feb Stafford
28 Feb Malvern


Deal with it

If you want to tackle muddy landscapes regardless of the weather, pick up a sturdy pair of knee-length gaiters, some hardy walking boots with a waterproof lining and a decent pair of waterproof trousers. You're not guaranteed to stay dry, but then hillwalking isn't about comfort � it's about getting out there and enjoying yourself, whatever the conditions.