Can't wait for longer spring days to enjoy the great outdoors? You don't need to. Go for a moon walk under night skies At the tail end of winter, just before the clocks go forward, those of us who thrive in the majesty of the great outdoors start to dream. Tantalising images of sparkling spring days fill our thoughts, while some of us fantasise future ahead to the long and idyllic days of summer. And, of course, it's right that we dream; half the fun of exploring the hills, valleys, summits and coastline of our dazzling land comes from the planning and plotting of future fresh air adventures. the thought of long lazy hours spend amid basking landscapes helps sustain us through the days.
But sometimes dreaming is not enough. A snuggly jumper, a comfy sofa and a great book help us cope. There comes a point though, when the urge to be ouside and striding purposefully flares up too fiercely to ignore.
So what's a lover of great walks in the fresh air supposed to do during these tough times? The answer is simple: pull on your warm clothes, step outside and embrace the joys of the night-time ramble. Many a dull, depressing day has been revived through a heady mix of chilled night air, gentle exertion and a reflective cuppa from a flask - or something stronger in front of a roaring pub fire at the end of the evening's ambulatory adventure.
The trick is to start off slowly and build your confidence. Pick a favourite short walk - ideally one you know really well, with an elevated vantage point boasting twinkling views. Pick a bright, clear night when there's no chance of rain. Invite a willing friend along, making sure you pack a flask of scalding tea or the finest hot chocolate and some of your favourite sustenance. Then let your feet and your burgeoning spirit of adventure do the rest.
What to wear
You don't need specialist gear to enjoy basic night walking, but some items are recommended. Sturdy footwear is a must, along with a torch and spare batteries. A rucksack with ample food and liquid is also a sensible step - and there's nothing better than a flask of rich hot chocolate or tea while contemplating a stunning night-time vista. Always dress according to the the weather, and if it's very cold you should take extra layers in case you need to stop for any reason. As a rule of thumb the more ambitious your night walk, the more clothing and provisions you should take with you, just in case you're out longer than planned.
As long as you stay safe within your limits and take sensible precautions, walking at night should be no more hazardous than during the day. Always let someone know where you're going, your approximate route and when you expect to be back. While you're finding your feet, it's sensible to walk with others - and it's fun to share your new experiences. If you're keen to press on to more ambitious night hikes on higher ground, gaining some navigational and map-reading skills is recommended.
For more on the joys of a starlit ramble, turn to page 66 of of The Simple Things issue 21.
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