- Why do I need a guide?
- Who will be my guide?
- Who are the other guides?
- Are you and the other guides qualified?
- How fit do I need to be for a guided walk or hike?
- How can I improve my fitness before a trip?
- Why is it important to have the correct equipment?
- What do I need take on a guided walk or hike?
- What about emergency equipment?
- What about going to the toilet?
- What if our walk or hike can’t go ahead because of weather conditions?
Why do I need a guide?
You don’t need to hire a hill walking guide for exploring Scotland.
However if you plan to go off on your own good navigation skills and map reading are essential.
Take into account our changeable weather its easy to get lost.
Most of the trails are not waymarked. You could get lost unless you stick to the most popular trails like the West Highland Way. These type of trails are well waymarked and easy to follow.
Having a hill walking guide is a great way to discover Scotland safely.
Not only will the mountain guide take care of your safety. They are a very good for helping you explore places you might not discover yourself.
A Private guide gives you the opportunity to plan your own adventure suited to your fitness and experience.
With a wealth of experience of guided walks in Scotland and my own personal experience, I always have loads of ideas for low level wanders or mountain adventures.
My Steall Falls family adventure is an excellent example of a low level walks that the whole family can enjoy.
Who will be my guide?
The guide is myself. You can learn more on my About Me page. I only take bookings for guided walks and hikes I can personally guide. If your group is larger than 8 people I will need to get a wee bit of help.
Who are the other guides?
The guides I work with are all folk that I have enjoyed time in the mountains at some point. We all share a passion for the mountains lochs, glens and beaches in the Highlands. Our friendly and open personalities will put you at ease to enjoy your walk or hike. All of us have a deep knowledge of the landscapes we are travelling through enhancing your walk or hike for a experience that you will never forget.
Are you and the other guides qualified?
At Up and Doon Guided Walks safety of my clients is paramount. Myself and the guides I use all have the minimum qualification of Summer Mountain Leader. This qualification is achieved through the Mountain Training Association. We also all have a 2 Day Outdoor Emergency First Aid qualification. This is updated regularly and is achieved through the British Association of Ski Patrollers. We also have our own Public Liability Insurance incase of any accidents.
How fit do I need to be for a guided walk or hike?
You don’t need to be superfit to go on a guided walk. Here at Up and Doon Guided Walks, I pride myself on finding the right route to suit you and your group’s abilities. However, the fitter you are can only enhance the enjoyment of your experience and journey.
A good level of fitness will also increase the scope of walks and hikes open to us for your trip.
How can I improve my fitness before a trip?
In short there is no easy way to improve fitness. The more walking and training you can do before your trip the more you will get from it. I recommend getting out as much as possible. Probably one of the best things to do is to try and make walking part of your daily life. Try walking to work and taking the stairs. Get out walking with friends and family in the evenings. Its a great way to exercise and spend quality time together. Gradually increase the distance and try and do longer walks and hikes on your days off.
If you want to climb mountains get in as much up and doon as possible. If you can get some rough terrain in underfoot even better. Its also important to train with the rucksack or backpack you plan to use on the day. It gets you used to the weight and balance so it’s not such a shock on the day. It also let’s you know whether it’s comfortable or not. The hip belt should fit snuggly to your hips taking the weight off your shoulders. Make sure it has a wee chest strap too. This stops the bag sliding around on your shoulders which becomes quite sore and tiring after a while.
The following link maybe useful for training programs.
Why is it important to have the correct equipment?
Having the correct equipment helps you to stay safer and more comfortable even in adverse weather conditions. The weather in Scotland and especially in the mountains is very fickle and changeable. Its not unusual to have sunshine in the glens and snow on the summits even in summer! The temperature differences between summit and valleys never ceases to amaze me! A good example is Fort William and Ben Nevis. If its 13 degrees Celsius in Fort William it has the potential to be closer to 0 degrees Celsius on the summit of Ben Nevis at 1345 metres. Take into account wind and rain its easy to get cold and wet fast.
What do I need take on a guided walk or hike?
You Should Have
- Sturdy footwear.Hiking boots are best as they give you ankle support. If they are waterproof even better.
- Waterproof Jacket and Waterproof Trousers will help keep you dry. These are essential for any day walking and hiking in the Highlands. They also help keep the wind off. Make sure that you can fit your waterproof jacket over the top of your warm layers.
- For keeping warm plenty of warm layers,hat and gloves.
- Anything not worn should be kept in a Dry/Waterproof Bag. Rucksacks and backpacks are not waterproof! Nothing worse than pulling out your warm layers to find they are soaked through from the rain!
- Cameras and phones should also be in a waterproof place. Pockets on waterproof jackets tend not to be as waterproof as they say. I recommend buying something especially designed for your device.
- Walking poles are optional. However they do help save the knees on the descent. If it’s your first time using them please try practising before your day. Otherwise they just become more of a tripping hazard than anything. It’s really useful to just start with one to begin with. Once you get used to that try with two. Use the wrist loops on the ups and on the flat. Don’t use the wrist loops on the doon. If you slip your hands are trapped and you have no way of saving yourself.
- You should also carry food and water for the day. Eating and drinking helps stave off tiredness and accidents. Drinking is needed to keep you re-hydrated and is very important. It is quite tough drinking on the hill especially when you are cold. However most rucksacks come set up for housing a hydration system. It has a pipe that you keep on the outside meaning you can sip as you walk. Much easier than using a traditional waterbottle stashed inside a bag.
- We will take frequent wee breaks during the day. So keep snacks handy and easy to get at so you can munch away all day. The stops tend to be short and sharp as most of the time especially higher up it is really too cold to hang about.
- A hot drink is nice to have during the day while you enjoy the view on one of our pitstops.
- Last but not least don’t forget to pack your camera so you can get that all important pictures to remember your experience.
- Make sure you have something waterproof to protect your camera or phone
What about emergency equipment?
First Aid Kit.
I always carry a well equipped First Aid Kit. Meaning that you don’t have to. However if you are worried about blisters you should buy your own blister plasters before the trip.
A Emergency Group Shelter
This is basically a tent that fits in a tiny bag in my rucksack. It’s fluorescent green to draw attention if needed. The way it works is by pulling over our heads and sitting on the edges. Its surprisingly warm inside and most importantly out of the elements.
I usually carry extra gloves and hats just in case people forget theirs. So please ask me if you have forgotten. I also have a spare down jacket kept for folk that are really feeling the cold.
I have in my bag for those sunny days we sometimes get.
Most folk have heard of the dreaded midges. I have my secret weapon Smidge. So in midge emergencies its always handy.
In the unlikely event of being on the hill in the dark. I carry a headtorch at all times.
I have these just in case someone needs them or indeed just wants to try them out. They are also useful in assisting folk with sprained ankles or sore knees.
What about going to the toilet?
Ladies and indeed some men do worry about the bathroom in the outdoors and don’t drink enough. Mainly because they don’t want to outside. Its difficult sometimes to get privacy. Especially on a mountain so please do let me know rather than crossing your legs all day. I can help you find a suitable place. Wherever you go it’s important to stay away from any water sources. Its really important to bury any excrement too. I carry a wee trowel for this. If you use any paper its really important not to leave any behind. So be great if you could carry a wee resealable plastic bag to put any toilet paper in. Dog poo bags work well as do empty plastic bottles.
What if our walk or hike can’t go ahead because of weather conditions?
At Up and Doon Guided Walks safety is important. If conditions are so bad that we can’t do the walk booked on the day. An alternative walk will be offered suitable for the conditions.