Welcome to the dark side!
You don’t have to make a beeline for home as the shadows lengthen; night walking opens up a whole new world. Whether you had intended to be out after dark or not, it always pays to be prepared.
Here are our tips for embracing the dark safely.
- Choose a route you have walked in daylight before heading off in the dark
- Pick settled clear weather – there’s no disgrace in being a fair weather night walker; check the night forecast before you set off.
- Watch the skies; a full moon or a starry sky will enhance the experience and make it easier to navigate. Dark Skies Discovery Sites are accessible to all and offer great views for star gazing.
- Go with company. It will be safer and a lot more fun. If you do go alone, let someone know your plan and expected time of return.
- Be sensitive to the possibility of causing alarm to local residents when walking at night. A route where you don’t pass close to houses or farms may be preferable
You need all the same equipment for night walking as you would for the daytime, but some items are especially important.
- 2 torches and spare batteries; LED torches are the most reliable and adjustable beams will be helpful
- Even during the warmest summer months, it can be close to freezing during the early morning hours. Make sure you carry plenty of layers, spare dry socks, gloves and a fleece.
- Map and compass (and know how to use them at night)
- Sleeping bag and bivi shelter – just in case!
- Charged mobile and power bank
- Stick to a route you have done in daylight previously, it will look and feel different, but you have the reassurance of being on familiar terrain. Stick to obvious paths.
- With no visual clues beyond your head-torch beam, you might overestimate or underestimate how far you’ve travelled in a given time. Be aware of this and trust your navigation techniques.
- Eat a little and often; lots of snacks will keep you going.
- It’s OK to turn back if you feel intimidated or are getting tired.
- Navigating at night can be a formidable challenge, so do your homework before you set off. Go with a guide or go on a night navigation course if you are unsure.
- It is harder to see uneven ground when it’s dark. Walk with your eyes, noting the ground 15 feet ahead to see upcoming hazards.
- Torchlight can be dazzling in mist, rain or snowfall and in certain lights such as a headtorch, ground detail can be lost making a stumble more likely. Keep your torch beam low or try holding the torch in your hand.
You don’t need the latest high tech, high performance, painfully expensive jacket to be AdventureSmart. The trick is putting a little bit of thought into what conditions you might meet and packing a bag with just enough to ensure you can cope with whatever the day may bring.
We are renowned for being a bit obsessed with the weather in the UK, which makes it surprising that people frequently don’t pay enough attention to how it might affect their days adventure.
Whatever your activity being prepared for the weather can make a big difference as to how you feel at the end of the day.
Whatever your planned activity for the day, be honest with yourself about you and your companions’ knowledge, fitness and ability. We all like to kid ourselves that we are fitter, or indeed more capable than we are but in this instance it pays to be honest.
Accidents can happen to anyone however adventure smart you are, so whatever your activity make sure you carry an appropriate means of calling for help should you need to.