Safety when walking Print E-mail

Walking Safety

In this region there are some spectacular routes to explore and fantastic scenery to see but it does come with its challenges. The area between the mountains and the sea is densely populated, the hinterland in contrast can be sparsely populated sometimes even without mobile phone coverage Smile. It is understood that part of the drive of going to the great outdoors is to get away from it all. With a little bit of consideration that is possible without having to rely on others, or the emergency services to get you out of the proverbial. So without being too highly strung about it there are a few considerations, if taken should make those treks into the great outdoors all that more enjoyable.

When walking in the hills here you can be at a height of 1000m above sea level within 25 km from the coast, with an hours drive 2000m. In the UK you are lucky to find peaks of 3000ft or approximately 1000m and the weather can change very quickly in the mountains. The higher you go the more changeable it can be, from electric storms in the summer to snow in the winter.

So check the Meteo before you leave!

Route Plan

Tell some one where you are going and when you expect to get back, oh and tell them when you do. That way if you have broken your leg and you are dying of hypothermia on a distant slope at least the cat may be fed and they might send some one in the right direction to find you.

Give yourselves enough time - In the winter it can get dark at 5-5:30 pm, for example, if it is a four hour walk leave in good time.

Wear the right clothes

Ok I am not suggesting you become kit man or woman but wear suitable clothes for the conditions. The problem here is that there is a wide range of climatic conditions and types of terrain.


Boots, Waterproof, spare fleece, hat - layers on the whole are better than 1 warm item. Even in the winter you can get wonderful sunshine and be very warm whilst moving but then after climbing 800m the temperature can easily drop a couple of degrees. Also strictly you should carry a survival bag or bivi bag, it does have a good something to sit on to eat your sarnies J. One point to remember is not to wear jeans when walking, warmer quicker drying materials are available.


Protection from the sun is essential - a good sun hat especially for those that are "follicly" challenged. Sun screen and insect repellent and I would still recommend boots. Today's walking boots are very light weight and offer the protection from twisted ankles winter or summer.

Navigation skills

Learn how to use a map and compass and take them with you, I tend to use a hand held GPS (it is a lazy way), basic map reading skills are essential. The walks are well marked, the GRs or Grand Randonees in this area have red and white flashes - local walks yellow, and I hope the descriptions on this site help.

Food and Water

Always carry high energy food with you in reserve for example chocolate (no good in the summer), nuts, cereal bars. Water in the summer we carry a litre per person in the winter less or supplemented with a flask of tea J.

Suggested essentials -

  1. Map
  2. Compass (and or GPS receiver)
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. Extra food and water
  5. Extra clothes
  6. Headlamp/flashlight
  7. First aid kit
  8. Whistle
  9. Matches
  10. Knife

*The Alpine distress signal

The Alpine distress signal traditionally consists of a signal by blasts from a whistle (may also be an air horn), which is repeated six times in the minute (every ten seconds). It is to be repeated after one minute of break in same manner.

The reply to such a signal is given with three indications per minute (every 20 seconds) and likewise repeated after one minute of break. Thus it can be confirmed to the person/party in trouble that its distress signal was received.

Whoever receives distress signals, should confirm and alert the emergency services.

The Alpine distress signal was introduced in 1894 on the suggestion of Clinton Thomas Dent and was soon adopted internationally.

The distress signal can also be a sound, light or sign characters.

In alpine areas of Europe any abuse of the emergency is liable to prosecution. (the signal takes the same form in the UK - I believe in the U.S. it is 3)

* courtesy Wikipedia



Most ramblers and walkers trek in the great outdoors as they appreciate the countryside and a certain amount of isolation. They are courteous when they meet with a “Bonjour or a hello”, and move on the mountains are generally big enough for all. They try to leave the countryside as they found it leaving no litter and causing no damage.

In truth when I see litter or wanton damage to signs & tracks I do privately wish for “a plague on the houses” on whoever was responsible. The people we meet in this area on the trails have always been polite and raise a smile and that gives me hope.



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