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Enjoying the wilderness in safety - how to make it home to tell the tale!

 There are over 16,483 square kilometres of stunning National Park land in the UK to explore, and that's not including the Scottish Highlands, coastal areas or privately owned nature reserves!

The thing we love about the UK is that no matter where you live you are only ever a couple of hours away from somewhere wild and beautiful, however the short journey time can lead you into a false sense of security as you can still find yourself dangerously isolated if something goes wrong.

To give a degree of perspective, Mountain Rescue teams for England & Wales reported attending 1066 incidents in 2012 of which unfortunately 30 were fatalities. You can download the incident reports here for the full breakdown of the locations and activities involved year on year - you might be surprised.

This is by no means a how-to survival guide, we just want to make more people aware of the dangers so they can return safe and well to their families and share the happy memories!

 

See below for our top 5 tips on staying safe whilst enjoying the UK wilderness:

1. Navigation: If hiking is on the agenda make sure you have the appropriate Ordnance Survey map of the area even if you plan to stick to marked trails - it’s all too easy to miss a marker and get turned around which can lead to a very dangerous situation. Learn how to use the map with a compass and make sure you also know how to figure out where you are in case you go wrong somewhere.

GPS gadgets are great and all but anything with batteries has a limited run time.

2. Clothing: It can be tricky to know for sure what the weather is going to do so you really need to be prepared for it to change, especially here in Britain! Wearing layers of clothes means that you can adjust your outfit depending on the current weather and your activity level - you may well be comfortable wearing a just a t-shirt whilst walking or running but if you are forced to sit still for any length of time (with a sprained ankle for instance) you will soon cool down.  It can also be helpful to have something to cover up with if suffering the effects of strong sun or biting insects!

Bring a small rucksack to keep an extra layer of clothing in along with whatever else you may need to bring along so you'll be able to keep your hands free. It seems most of us nature lovers choose clothing in earthy or dark colours which can be great for getting closer to wildlife, but bear in mind that it can also be near impossible for a rescue team to find you if you need them so be sure to have something brightly coloured with you to help get attention.

3. Footwear: Choose footwear with good tread and ankle support, trainers are just not supportive enough to safely help you over uneven rocky ground (don't even think about heading up a mountain wearing flip flops!).

If you've bought yourself a set of new hiking boots for the trip you really MUST wear them in before you go on a long hike! Wear them around the house and test-walk them to the shops - it will loosen them up and bring any pressure spots or rubbing areas to attention beforehand.

It's also well worth investing in a good set of hiking socks designed for long distance walking, and pop some blister plasters in your pocket just in case - you won't be enjoying the wilderness so much when you have to walk another 10 miles back with blisters!

4. Terrain, Routes & Stops: Wherever possible stick to the trails so as not to disturb and trample on the local flora and fauna. Also a lot of wilderness areas tend to be made up of peat between the rocks so a short exploratory wander can land you in a very wet and often smelly bog!

Take it slow (you're not power-walking to the shops!), take particular care over where you step and assess the ground ahead of you. Remember that a sprained or broken ankle is only ever one awkwardly placed step away...

5. Emergencies: Make sure your phone has a good battery level and try to keep a note of where you have signal in the area.

If you’re trying to get away from your e-mails and social media altogether (and that's always a good thing!) then switch it over to airplane mode, it will greatly improve the battery life and still allow you to take photos of all the beautiful scenery. 

Depending on how far into the wilderness you plan to go it can be a good idea to bring a spare battery or emergency phone charger.

If you do find yourself lost or in an emergency situation stay calm - stop immediately, take a deep breath, and try to think rationally about what you need to do. To get help dial 999 or 112 and calmly answer the operators questions in order. 

 

Even after following our advice, if something does go wrong you may find yourself in need of help from a Mountain Rescue service. Many people are surprised to know that mountain rescue teams are not paid for by taxes, rather they run solely because of generous public donations. You can donate to a Mountain Rescue charity through the links below - you might need them someday!

 

We hope you found these tips helpful, if you have any tips or stories of your own you’d like to share with other readers please leave a comment below!

 

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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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