I have completed quite a few long trails on my own and I can honestly say that for each trip there has always been an element of apprehension. But someone recently asked me “what is the scariest hike you've ever had?”
Answers rushed through my head. There was the time I was camping in a pub garden and drunken customers tripped over the guy lines whilst I was sleeping. There was the time I met the weirdo in the woods who exposed himself to me and the other strange episode that made my heart race was a very unusual bird that continued to fly around our tents in the Lake District at night making a funny laughing sound! But none of those episodes was really that scary. The scariest moment was not due to animals or people, it was mainly to do with the weather!
In January 2020 a small group of us headed up to the Peak District for a weekend away. Our intention was to climb Kinder Scout and risk assess the route for future Adventure Geek trips. We left the YHA in Edale and the weather was absolutely fine. We laughed, created silly videos, and enjoyed every minute.
At the base of Jacobs Ladder it started to drizzle, so we put on our wet weather gear and wrapped up warm then commenced the climb. Jacobs Ladder gave us some amazing views and we were all having a good time. As we climbed into the clouds we were all becoming extremely soaked and now the wind had started to pick up. We reached the top, tried taking photos, but it was that windy that the waterfalls were flowing in the wrong direction! I suffer with Raynauds and by the time we had navigated our way through the boulder field and started to make our way through the bogs I had lost all dexterity in my fingers and they were extremely painful. I was unable to navigate using my phone and we spent way too long falling over in the peaty bogs and retracing our steps. The GPS was jumping around all over the place and I felt quite panicked.
Thank god I wasn't on my own. My good friend Michelle took control of my phone and figured out the navigation while I was shivering and couldn't talk. My sister in-law was cuddling me and trying to warm up my hands. In my head I was ready to press that SOS button on my Personal Location Beacon as we witnessed the same series of boulders that we passed 20 minutes ago – we were walking in circles!
Eventually, we met another totally bonkers person who was up there with his dog. He pointed us in the right direction and we eventually found the track. I say track, but if you have ever tried to climb down the other side of Kinder Scout then you will know that it is very steep and most of it was descended on our rear ends!
Needless to say, the lights of the YHA was a breath of fresh air, although it was closed when we arrived so we had to all get changed into dry clothes in the main car park!
- Always check the weather forecast for altitude, not just lowland!
- Make sure you have plenty of snacks with you at all times.
- Invest in good wet weather gear
- Always carry a spare set of clothes
- Always carry a map and compass
- Even though I never used it, I was thankful for my PLB.
- Always download the maps for offline use (I didn't do that and the maps took ages to load).
- Always let someone know where you are going. If I wasn't with friends that day then I would have put myself at risk.
Common sense, the right gear and good friends makes for a safe hiking experience.