Vital Hiking Skills for Mountains and Fells

Hiking skills are essential because being in the mountains is one of the best day trips out there. We absolutely love it.

A hiking day trip offers an amazing way to get some fresh air and burn a lot of calories whilst seeing some of the most spectacular scenery.

hiking skills for mountains
Get out into the wild ©Damian Markutt

Everything in the mountains is on a bigger scale – the views go on forever, the sunset lasts for longer as it bounces off different peaks, and the sky is much clearer. But this scale comes with a few problems.  

So, we at Lake District Adventuring have put together a list of skills you should have before going on your next mountain hike.  

1. Hiking Skills – Know How to Use a Map and a Compass

Even with your brand-new shiny iPhone with its GPS it is really worth knowing how to use a map and compass. In fact it is fundamental when heading out for mountain hike.  

compass
Learn new skills ©Ali Kazal

Knowing what all the features, symbols and scales mean on a map can really help when you start to plan your mountain hike. 

You will also be able to work out factors like how long its going to take, how far it is and what sort of ground you’re going to travel across.  

Hiking skills for hills
Get off the track ©Damian Markutt

I’m not going to lie, its also very satisfying when you do get to you intended point and you have done it solo simply using the map.  

So, either pay to do a course (view our recommendations here) or spend some time doing some self-learning and make sure you know your stuff. Trust me, you only need to get lost once before you will wish you had learned sooner.  

2. Hiking Skills – Know What to Pack for a Day in the Mountains

What you pack is going to really depend on what sort of day you’re planning.

You’re going to need think about the weather; is it wet, cold, warm? This will determine if you will need waterproofs, extra water, warm clothing. 

In the Uk mountains we can experience all 4 seasons in just one short mountain hike so really have a look at what the weather is doing and make sure you are prepared.  

hiking skills mountain range in sunlight
The view from the top ©Damian Markutt

Also, think about what the ground is like. If you’re out scrambling for the day or on complex ground then you might need equipment like a harness, helmet and ropes etc.  

How long are you going to be out? Again, this will really dictate how much food and water you take with you for the day. 

You should pack to be prepared. Its always worth taking a few extra things in case you need them.  

Below is a really cool video that will give you a visual idea of what you should be packing as a minimum, as well as more detail and some great tips.  

3. Select the Right Equipment for your Mountain Hike

Have you ever been out in the rain and right away you can feel that your coat is not working? Or bought a pair of hiking boots and right away you get a blister?  

One of the biggest things we see as Mountain guides is people coming with the wrong kit for a day in the mountains.

Spend time doing some research. Invest a little cash and get high quality equipment that is made for what you are wanting to do.  

hiking equipment
Pack your gear carefully ©Alice Donnovan Rouse

If you’re not sure about what you want/need then its worth going to a good retailer and asking some questions before you buy.  

4. Evaluate your Health and Fitness

Maybe not so much a skill but I think this is worth touching on.

We all head in to the mountains for different reasons. The list of motivations is endless. There is conclusive proof that hiking and being outdoors can do so much for your overall fitness, physical and mental health. Even in a short period of time it can really become apparent and make a positive impact on your life.

I would suggest that when you’re planning to head into the mountains that you make sure your body is as prepared as possible. Train to be as fit as you can be before the riggers that your body is about be put through.  

Be realistic about what you want to achieve. If you want to head for a big day then maybe its time to start thinking about impressive feats like the National 3 peaks challenge and/or Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge. These are great examples of events where you really need to train properly. 

You can also find a great set of work outs that have been put together on our blog post – Improve your fitness for hiking.  

Out of all this – don’t forget to enjoy it and make the most of wherever you’re heading.  

Adventuring Lake District logo

This article about hiking skills has been written by Lake District Adventuring. They offer a superb range of Lake District adventure activities, skills courses, trekking weekends and challenge events.