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A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO WALKING: ESSENTIAL HINTS AND TIPS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED

a beginners guide to walking

Welcome to Whalley Warm & Dry's 'Beginners Guide to Walking'. We hope this guide will give you the information and inspiration you need to take up this fantastic hobby. As Charles Dickens once said, "Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy".

Studies have shown that walking has some pretty amazing health benefits, from lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s, to beating those sugary cravings and even reducing  your risk of early death! Hippocrates was right "walking is the best medicine.”

Walking is the perfect activity for all ages and abilities and you can do it almost anywhere at any time. You can easily incorporate it into your daily life and once you've bought the essentials, it's free - no endless monthly gym fees!

With some help from our wonderful customers, we have created this beginners guide to walking packed with useful hints and tips to help get you started. 


1. happy feet = happy walker!

Footwear is the number one priority in terms of kit and is certainly not a step to be skipped or rushed. If you don’t choose walking footwear correctly you end up with sore toes and blisters, plus you’re out of pocket- ouch! Our customers often complain that prior to visiting us they have spent a small fortune amassing a wardrobe full of ill-fitting footwear that they cannot bare to wear. It therefore pays in comfort, money and time to be properly fitted for walking boots or shoes.

If you’re footwear has been properly fitted, you won’t need to go through the agony of “breaking-in” the boots.

Unfortunately there is an inherent myth that blisters are inevitable in walking footwear but this is not true. It is possible with properly fitting, appropriate footwear to avoid the endurance test that walking can become when you have blisters and sore feet. If you’re finding the boots/shoes very painful to wear, we highly recommend reviewing the fit of the footwear – they may be too small, too big, too wide, too narrow, too deep or too shallow, not to mention the wrong shape.

Our award-winning Specialist Boot Fitting service can help you to remove the guesswork from buying footwear and ensure you get the right size, width, volume and shape for your feet. We have over 170 different fitting options for you to choose from in store including walking boots available in 5 different widths, plus half sizes. To book a Specialist Boot Fitting appointment please call 01254 822 220 or email info@whalleywarmanddry.co.uk

"[Get] a decent pair of boots professionally fitted by a reputable company!” 

Janet Wilkinson

2. A QUALITY WATERPROOF IS ESSENTIAL

Invest in the best waterproof you can afford - you won't regret it! Páramo waterproofs are a favourite amongst walkers and they beat other brands for water resistance, breathability, comfort, durability, fit and warmth when tested by Which? magazine.

Páramo’s unique and innovative system uses Nikwax Analogy fabrics which wick moisture away and keeps you warm, dry from the rain and perspiration and comfortable rather than the hot, sweaty mess some waterproofs seem to induce. Watch the video below to understand how it works differently to other brands, including those that rely on a Goretex membrane.

“Buy the best kit you can afford,  it’s not a luxury, it’s essential; you’ll only end up buying twice if you go cheap!”

AJ Watts

“Don’t climb mountains in jeans especially in winter. If you get wet they won’t dry and you will get very cold. Get the right gear.” 

Meryl Rowlinson

“Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the conditions and ensure you carry dry clothes, hat and gloves in a “dry bag” inside your rucksack. Rucksacks are not generally waterproof so a large “dry bag” makes an excellent liner.”

Adrian Clark

3. be prepared and don't rely on your mobile

The UK is a treasure trove of breathtaking landscapes just waiting for you to discover. Follow the Scout motto of 'be prepared' and you will ensure you stay safe whilst exploring.  

Plan your route before you set off, check the forecast and make sure you bring a map, compass and a fully charged phone. It’s important not to be completely reliant on your phone when it comes to navigation.  Many map apps rely on active data connections which may not always be possible in remote locations. The GPS function on your phone can very quickly drain your battery, which could leave you without power to make an emergency call. Ordnance Survey do have a mapping app that shows the complete details of the area and will work with no data connection however we would strongly advise taking a map and compass just in case you have problems with your phone.

If you're map reading skills are a little rusty, don't be deterred - there's a whole host of great resources online to help, including videos like the one below by Ordnance Survey.

“Plan ahead, check the forecast and listen to your instincts. Know when it’s going to get dark and how long it’ll take you to walk. Register with the emergency text service, switch phone to airplane mode while walking to preserve battery if needed in an emergency.”

Barbara Garrett

“Always make sure you take a map and compass and know how to use them for when the batteries on your GPS/Smart phone let you down.” 

Dave Armitage

“Preparation is the key. Always carefully plan your route and don’t over estimate your ability especially if you are walking alone. Tell a friend where you intend to park, your route and your estimated return time. Leave a route card in a visible place. Don’t forget that you can always turn round and try another day if conditions deteriorate. MWIS is an excellent weather app, available online and ideal for the Lakes and Dales. Always carry a head torch, spare batteries and a basic first aid kit containing small scissors and Compeed. Wrap a length of duct tape around your water bottle or walking pole and carry a length of string or paracord. Register your phone with the emergency services and store in a ziplock bag in an internal pocket.... IPhones are subject to shutting down and becoming useless in cold conditions or when overheated if left in hot sunshine. Never rely on phone GPS. Always carry a map in a waterproof case or print off the map sheets you require and laminate them. A GPS can be handy to find exactly where you are in an emergency.”

Adrian Clark

Go and buy Mountaincraft and Leadership by Eric Langmuir recently updated, full of all the detail and techniques you’ll need to stay safe in the mountains, year round. Essential. Book on a MLTB course, great fun and worth every penny even if you’re never going to guide parties of folk, it’s skills you’ll learn that could make a difference.” 

Pedro Bobkat

4. DON'T FORGET TO TAKE FOOD & WATER

Make sure you take lots of water, two litres per person is recommended for a full day of walking, this allowance must be increased when walking in warmer weather.

If you're going on a big walk, bring snacks to keep your energy levels up. You can't beat a well deserved drink and a little treat en route!

“Carry a toffee crisp or similar at all times. And a compass.”

Jo Marshall

“Always take more water than you think you will need.

Richard Stangroom

“Carry enough food and high energy snacks for emergencies... jelly babies are great. Consider a filter bottle for emergencies. “Water to go” do an excellent bottle which will filter the nastiest water and make it drinkable.” 

Adrian Clark

5. JOIN A WALKING GROUP

The camaraderie and support from walking groups such as The Ramblers or Walking for Health can help you to achieve your fitness goals and they are a great way to discover new walking routes.

There are loads [of walking clubs] around catering for all abilities who provide an organized walking calendar, led by informative, experienced leaders accessible to all levels of walkers. Whether walking with friends or on your own - club walks are a great way to get out and enjoy walking with confidence.”

Gill Byrom

6. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCKS

You don't need to wear two pairs of walking socks, just one good quality pair of technical walking socks that will help wick the moisture away from your feet and provide good cushioning. 

Avoid wearing cotton socks as they are not very effective at wicking the moisture away and create an inhospitable environment for your feet when you’re out walking.  

Make sure your chosen socks are close fitting, particularly around the heel so they don’t gather and cause you to be uncomfortable.

“Good socks are just as important as good boots.”

Ali Hampson

“Take spare socks rather than spare gloves; socks can be used as mittens but gloves can’t be used as socks.” 

Nigel Lewin

7. LOOK AFTER YOUR GEAR AND IT WILL LOOK AFTER YOU

Taking the time to regularly clean and proof your gear will help ensure it stays comfortable, performs to its best and lasts a long time. Always follow the care guidance of your gear and use the right care products.

8. LACE UP

Whilst you might be raring to go at the start of the walk, it pays to take a moment to properly lace your footwear. Lacing will help to ensure the foot is secure inside the footwear and your toes don't bash into the front.

You will be surprised at what a difference lacing can make to the fit and comfort of your footwear, even the best fitting footwear can be undermined by poor lacing.

9. START SMALL

If the thought of going for a long walk fills you with dread, our advice would be simple – start small. It is better to know your limits and plan a walk accordingly. You don’t have to begin with the 3 Peaks Challenge, walking for even a few minutes a day is better than nothing and it’s a great way to build up fitness levels.

10. HAVE FUN!

Getting out in the great outdoor is not only good for you, it's lots of fun too! Walking gives you the opportunity to explore new parts of the country, away from the busy roads. You will discover breathtaking landscapes. 

“Enjoy yourself. Stop and soak up the views every now and then!"

Barbara Garrett

11. last but not least...

We couldn't finish our beginners guide to walking without including these sage pieces of advice submitted by our wonderful customers.

Don’t cross stepping stones when husband is nearby. He just can’t help throwing stones into the water to make splashes. Yes.... I have fallen in.....several times.”

Amanda Smith

“Travel light, travel far”

Pedro Bobkat

“Check the pub opening/closing times”

Steve Dean

“Don’t stand in puddles you can’t see the bottom of”

Michael Bee

So there you have it, Whalley Warm & Dry's beginners guide to walking. We hope it's helped to give you the hints and tips you need to start walking and inspire you to get out in the great outdoors and explore!

If you have any questions about starting walking or would like to know more about how our award-winning Specialist Boot Fitting service can help you, please get in touch (01254 822 220 / info@whalleywarmanddry.co.uk)- we are more than happy to help!

Opening hours:
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
& Sunday 1pm - 5pm