The winter is arguably the best time to get out into the mountains and explore. Whether it’s flying to Europe to ski, or staying on home soil and seeking out the less consistent conditions, winter is the best. Snow on the mountain tops can turn a simple summer scramble into a full blown mountaineering challenge, and the blanket of calm that the cold brings makes this time of year ideal to spend outdoors.
To access many of the UK’s most beautiful wild spaces requires driving along winding country lanes and over desolate mountain passes. Add rain, sleet and fog into the mix and the journey to the trailhead could potentially be more hazardous than the icy ridge you’ve set out to tackle. In a survey conducted by Slater and Gordon, 58% of people were more concerned about making a journey during the winter months. Keep the below tips in mind in order to stay safe when travelling to the hills.
You wouldn’t go winter walking in boots with worn tread, would you? The same goes for the tyres on your car. You should check your tread depth to ensure that it’s safe, especially at this time of year when the roads can be treacherous. The legal minimum requirement for tread depth in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm, however, if you plan to do a lot of driving in the higher, more remote areas of the UK, we suggest investing in winter tyres and snow chains.
Reaching the summit for sunrise or staying out to enjoy the last of the day’s light is one of our favourite things to do, especially during the winter months when the light is at its best. The short days and long nights mean that you will inevitably be driving during the dead of the night if you want to catch the best of the day. So, ensuring that your lights are in full working order is imperative. Check that your main beams, tail lights, brake lights and all indicators are in full working order once a week, just to be safe.
It goes without saying but you should always carry a good quality torch and head torch with you when out on the mountains. Changing conditions or unforeseen problems could leave you stranded after dark.
Preparation is key
Before you set off on your weekend adventure, make sure you’re fully prepared for the worst. This doesn’t mean you have to have an emergency contingency plan laminated and stuck to your window, just make some basic precautions. Let someone know where you are going, ensure that your phone is charged and keep some warm clothing in your car in case you get stranded.
With a little planning and preparation, the winter is the absolute best time to spend in the mountains. Just make sure you get to the bottom safely to begin with.