When does a Walker become a Hiker? This is a very fuzzy line and it probably all boils down to personal opinion. Forty minutes over the fields to the pub is clearly walking whilst twenty miles across the Pennine Way is hiking. Where does 15 miles across the fields of the Saxon Shore Way fit into that?
If you are going for an hour's walk locally, or if you are an experienced walker/hiker anyway, you probably won't need these guides. Longer than an hour, it's going to be very hot or very cold, and you've not walked that far very often previously, then please read some of these.
Eating after a long day of hiking is important as well as snacking throughout the day. Monitor food and water intake always. Without proper hydration and nutrients, tiredness and possibly even a headache will affect you to the point of you saying, "I'm never doing this again!" Your amazing walk will simply be an exhausting trial. Read some of the guides above for some good advice.
This is a common mistake of a beginner walker/hiker. No matter if it’s too much food, clothes, or gear, try to evaluate the contents of your pack before setting out for the backcountry. Evaluating your gear beforehand will lighten your load, make packing easier, and make the walking pleasant again. Read some of the guides above for some good advice.
If you plan to do a walk, then plan around the weather. Always check the forecast. Check the forecast for areas around the walk to get an idea of impending weather patterns. Get an idea of the wind direction particularly, walking into the wind all day when you could have had it behind you if you walked the other way is not a good idea. Having a rough time walking in the rain can be avoided with just a bit of research.
Do I need Trekking Poles? Read some of the guides above for some good advice. When I learned how to use my trekking poles properly, I experienced an increase in speed and efficiency. USE THE STRAPS. By using the straps, you have more stability. There are different ways to use your poles depending on the hike (downhill, ascent, flat). Check out the guides above to understanding your poles and how to use them.
Wearing cotton is perfectly fine if you plan to do a relative short walk. However, for a long distance hike, cotton is not the best choice. The fabric tends to absorb odors and retain moisture. Polyester dries faster, which comes in handy during a cold downpour. Wool socks versus cotton socks is highly recommended. Leave the blue jeans at home.
Always check to see if you have your necessities. I use a list, and I often leave my back pack ready for the next walk with the list already checked off. Read some of the guides above for some good advice on what to take, the Go Outdors site has a walking list that might be handy.
Knowing your pack inside and out will make you more efficient in packing and walking. Know how your pack should adjust to your body with any weight in it. Know how to pack your pack for short and long distances. Your pack is an extension of your body; know it well and your body will be happy.
We have all seen litter in the countryside. I know not all those who litter footpaths are beginners but leaving no trace is a big rule for walking that cannot be over emphasized. Always bring something to carry away your waste in such as a plastic bag.
As a beginner, your pace might not be the quickest. Therefore, you must evaluate an attainable time table of when you will reach your destination. Evaluate your walk by difficulty and weather. Then, approximate how many hours this will take. If you are unsure of how many miles per hour you can do, just evaluate for one mile per hour at first. You do not want to find yourself a long way from your destination when the sun sets.
Know the walk you want to do, walk when you want and how you want. Do not allow others to negatively influence your walk - you want to enjoy it after all. ALWAYS evaluate a walk for your body's dimensions and strengths. Groups seem to follow the leader but the leader's steps might not be the best route for you. Check out your surroundings, determine your own route when applicable, and walk your own walk for your body type.