Walking in Winter

For the last 8 years I have been a fair weather walker. Not just to avoid the cold and rain but also because I like to enjoy the countryside by having a picnic during the walk.

From the beginning of this year, in preparation for a long walk planned for the summer, I have been walking irrespective of the weather conditions. Sometimes this has been unpleasant.

When the sun is out and it’s dry and crisp it is a joy,

but when it is dark and damp it can be a slog.

Irrespective of the weather, paths are now waterlogged and I have had to wade through up to 5 inches of mud and water. This has made me change my kit; I have returned to using leather walking boots rather than fabric shoes (even though these are Gortex lined) and invested in gaiters and trekking poles.

I must be slow on the uptake as poles make walking so much more efficient and are essential when the ground is slippery.   

As well as cutting down on the post walk laundry, gaiters are definitely a good idea when entering the pub for a mid-walk break. I have always put on decorator’s overshoes when stopping for lunch but with mud up to my knees I was still dropping dirt throughout the pub. Being able to take the gaiters off means I can enter without looking like I have come from a mud wrestling competition.


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Walking Prerequisites: Navigation

I prefer paper maps and a compass, not just because they don’t require a phone or GPS signal but for the viewable distance a map provides. I have never seen a hand held mapping device that displays a sufficient readable area.

The only problem with maps is that they are useless unless your know your position. For this I want a device that just gives me a grid reference. Using a phone app to determine this is not safe as it is guaranteed that when you need it you wont have a phone signal.

There are no simple GPS devices available that just provide a position as the manufactures want to sell more expensive products that include maps. My solution is to use the cheapest device on the market and ignore all the features other than the page that displays the grid reference. Currently this is the Garmin eTrex 10.

As well as showing the Ordnance Survey grid reference this also displays useful information such as distance walked and walking speed.

To display the OS grid reference (BNG, British National Grid, in the image) the device needs configuring to use British Grid as the Position Format and Ord Srvy GB as the Map Datum. It is also useful to change the Distance and Speed setting to Statute.

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