My Guide to Winter Walks



"A little guide of my key things that allow me to get the most out of my winter walks"

 

Something I made a decision to change last year was the amount of time I spend outdoors rather than on my phone or sat in front of my laptop. As often as I could I would go on long walks through local parks or nature reserves with my boyfriend, and just enjoy the downtime away from all other aspects of our life. Despite the cold and sometimes miserable weather, it’s a change that I’ve been loving embracing. I know it’s cliché, but it’s crazy what we miss of the real world whilst our heads are buried away in false senses of reality. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been just as guilty of this, which is why I wanted to incorporate more of a balance in my life. I feel so much better for it, so I thought I’d make a little guide of my key things that allow me to get the most out of my winter walks, for anyone else that wants to start.


First things first, layers, layers and LAYERS. I feel the cold so much, its borderline abnormal. If I’m cold it’s literally all I focus on (that and getting somewhere warm ASAP) so layering up is a must for me. There’s something strangely cosy about getting bundled up in warm clothing to brace what the outdoors has to offer. I’m talking a hat, gloves, and numerous tops and jumpers each sizing up with each layer. Okay, that might seem a little excessive, but I’m talking cold UK winter mornings here people! Of course if blessed with temperatures above 4 degrees I may ease off a little with the layers (people that know me well are probably sat there thinking “who are you kidding”) but the point is dress accordingly. With that being said, for me there are two types of outdoor walk dress. The ready for all weather practical dress, and the looking lovely in a snuggly coat dress. If I’m completely honest, the latter is very rare for me and I’d say only ever occurs if a walk falls off the back of other plans I’ve had that day. My walk attire very much falls under the far from glamorous practical category that consists of several oversized tops and hoodies stolen from my boyfriend…where else? And my trusted what I refer to asdog walking coat. If you read my 2019 new year’s resolution post you may remember my white coat, which as much as I love, prohibited me from getting cuddles from a very eager and muddy pup passing by. I had to stand and watch as my boyfriend had all the fun. Hence the dog walking jacket. Of course that’s not the only reason, but I just find it allows me to enjoy our walk without any restrictions through fear of ruining my clothes. Plus its water proof which is always a huge bonus for those of us living in the ‘sunny’ UK.




Second most important. Wellies or walking boots (E if you’re reading this I know you’re thinking “YES, aa love ma wellies, they’re right comfy”- any guesses as to where she’s from).Anyway even if I’m going somewhere that I know has a ‘clean’ trail for me to stick to, I’ll always wear my wellies or my destroyed pair of timberlands. Why? Well aside from the fact I rather enjoy wearing my wellies, there’s always far more to see than what sticking to the trail allows, so I find wearing a decent pair of trainers or any shoe for that matter is just restricting. I don’t want to be tip toeing around huge muddy puddles or awkwardly avoiding any passing dogs through fear they’ll leave a lovely paw print memento on my shoe if I go in for a cuddle. Of course if you are merely going for a fresh air stroll to stretch your legs, this may not be the case for you, but personally I much prefer getting in and amongst the trees and happily splashing through whatever puddles I pass along the way. It just goes back to be being practical for your outing. Oh and don’t forget your fluffy socks! They make all the difference.



On that note, don’t forget a bag/ shoe box and a change of shoes to get changed into before you head home. I can only talk from experience but by the time I reach the car my shoes are usually caked in mud and definitely not okay to wear in the car. So into their box they go, as I swap them for a pair of slides. A quick and easy change that prevents having to cleaning up a whole lot of mess.


Take a hot flask. One thing that was always reiterated by my lecturers at uni during the lead up to any practical outdoor sessions was bring a hot flask (they were always scheduled during the colder months). Our walks rarely finish under an hour, so a warm drink is very much welcomed. For me it’s hands down, always a hot chocolate. I love a good strong steaming coffee, however (fun fact about me)it sends my central nervous system into another level over drive. I’m talking hyperactivity, heart palpations, the lot, so unfortunately I have to limit my consumption….ANYWAY, having a hot drink to sip on as you walk around not only keeps you warm, but again brings a little bit of cosiness along with you.




If you are going to a nature reserve or even just for a stroll through a local patch of woodland, take a camera. You never know what photo opportunities are going to come your way, and I often see a lot more when I’m actively looking for things to shoot…..or should I say things to get my boyfriend to shoot. There’s endless room for being creative (which I love) and getting a shot that makes even a round of mushrooms look spectacular. There’s also the great sense of achievement if a clear shot is managed of the fleeting wildlife. Even if you’re sat reading this thinking I don’t care for small woodland birds etc., I guarantee if you manage to get a good picture of one you’ll get the bug and want to take more. Of course in ‘todays age’ quite a lot of us have smart phones with a decent enough camera on it, so of course, if a camera isn’t something you own get snapping using whatever you have access too. For me however, my time outside is dedicated to being phone free. Unless we have a call, our phones remain away. No distractions or looking at the world through a screen, just time together appreciating what’s right in front of us.




Get up early. This one can be easier said than done, especially during the darker mornings, but it’s worth it. Not only will you be rewarded with the sunrise, you’ll have the peacefulness to go with it. Also the stillness of the morning makes it more likely for you to see wildlife.

And if its wildlife you’re hoping to see, don’t forget your patience and positive attitude. Despite probably being well habituated if you go to a place with frequent visitors, its inhabitants aren’t going to throw themselves at you. Naturally a small sense of caution will remain so just be patient and give them time identify they are in no danger. If sitting still and in silence isn’t your cup of tea, take some food. It offers a good distraction from the time passing by and is the perfect silencer (providing you have manners). Just be sure to take some hand sanitiser and don’t leave any rubbish behind.


If you’re new to nature walks and on the lookout for wildlife, you may benefit from doing a little background reading about the area you are planning to go. Most nature reserves will have a website with information about the species that reside there, so you can get a little more familiar with what you can expect to see. It may also be useful to take a British Wildlife identification guide with you that can be picked up fairly cheap.



And lastly check the weather. This might seem obvious but don’t take the weather you see outside before you leave for face value. The weather can change so quickly, so it’s better to be prepared for any showers that might make an appearance. And with that being said, don’t be put off by the rain. Some of my favourite walks have been during heavy rain, thick fog and strong winds, where I’ve got absolutely drenched. Admittedly that was in the Lake District, and in no way was I appropriately dressed for a mountain walk, let alone in that weather. But believe it or not, it’s one of my favourite memories I have. Sodon’t be put off by the rain… just make sure you aren’t wearing jeans and a thin jacket….


And that’s it, my advice to becoming a winter walker. I hope at least one, if any, of these points helps, and encourages you to embrace spending more time outdoors. Oh, and don’t forget to share any of your snaps! Happy strolling,


Meg x



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