Whether it's a busy schedule, lack of fitness or a shocking weather forecast, we can all find reasons for staying indoors come Saturday morning. But most of the excuses we give ourselves turn out to be flimsy. Don't let yourself off the hook...
I simply don't have the time
The work-life balance often seems out of kilter. Add family commitments, visits to the dentist, home improvements and nights down the pub, and it's a wonder that anyone ever escapes at all. When time is such a valuable commodity it boils down to a question of priorities. Creative diary planning helps a lot. Do you have the flexibility to work long hours and earn yourself days off in lieu? Might you be able to squeeze a night walk between shifts? If weekends revolve around spending time with the kids then could you make it a family day out? And is your need for a new sofa really, truly, more pressing than a day in the great outdoors?
I've got no mates
The tempting retort is, get a life! But perhaps it's not a case of being Billy No Mates so much as just having no mates who fancy spending their weekends being rained on up hills. Well it's their loss. Assuming your powers of persuasion have failed, then you have a couple of options: find new friends, or go solo. Why not post for pals on our Lifts and Partners forum? Alternatively, joining a hillwalking club or a local walking group can be an instant source of keen new companions, with the added bonus that trips and even transport may be organised for you. For more on the benefits, see this article: Walking Groups - Are They For Me?
I'm nervous of going alone
But perhaps you are not the joining type? There's a lot to be said for hill days spent entirely in your own company. For some people this is a daunting prospect, but while the commitment is undeniably greater than walking in a group, there's an immense and very different sense of satisfaction in it too. Which summit do you fancy next? Where are you stopping for lunch? What pace are you comfortable with? Is that the correct bearing, or are you about to get hopelessly lost? Every decision may be yours alone, but so too is the responsibility for any cockups, so make sure your skills and kit are up to the job. Multi-day solo missions through the wilds of Knoydart in winter can wait til you're ready to confidently enjoy them; if you're new to this game then break yourself in gently. Pick a fine day and a straightforward trail on a popular hill; make sure someone at home knows your plans ...and go for it! There's tons more advice in this article: How to Walk and Camp Alone
I can't afford the gear
Dressing from head to toe in cutting edge outdoor kit may be an expensive business, but equipping yourself merely adequately doesn't have to be. While it may not be as sophisticated, durable or flattering as high end alternatives, budget gear is far better than nothing, and generally up to the job if you don't expect miracles. Wait for the sales, and last year's top of the range models can often be had at bargain prices too. And there's always the second hand route - for instance on our For sale / wanted forum. All that said, two things it's best not to pinch too many pennies on are footwear and waterproof jackets, where at the bottom end of the market it's generally a case of paying peanuts and getting monkeys. At the end of the day the size of your bank balance is very much of secondary importance. After all, the hills themselves are free.
I don't want to drive
And why should you? From rush hour traffic leaving town to parking hassle at the road head, driving isn't all it's cracked up to be. Access to most upland areas may be far simpler in your own set of wheels, but alternatives still exist. If you're sufficiently motivated and able to plan ahead then having no car is not a show stopper. Trains and buses can get you a long way - in some cases through the heart of the hills and right to the foot of your walk. Bikes may be used to good effect too, as can your thumb. For more travel tips see this article How to Climb Hills by Public Transport.
The weather's rubbish
Ever heard the expression there's no such thing as crap weather, only crap clothing (or words to that effect)? While anyone who's braved Cross Fell in the rain knows that's utter nonsense, it does contain a kernel of truth: for walkers who are properly equipped, it is rare for the weather to be a total show stopper. If your one day off in the week unfortunately coincides with an awful forecast then all may not be lost. Even in a downpour there's still fun to be had, albeit of the grim and masochistic variety. The key is to downgrade your ambitions and modify the plan to accommodate conditions. Gale force winds and scrambling ridges are a risky combination, for instance, but the same weather up on a broad rolling moor could just be exhilirating. If blizzards or poor visibility make it serious up on the high tops, there are always glens, passes or lower hills to compensate. Don't let a downbeat forecast be your flimsy excuse for going shopping rather than walking.
But I don't have any skills or experience - I don't want to end up a statistic
If certain media outlets are to be believed, the great outdoors is a minefield of deadly peril, and no one short of Bear Grylls has any business being there. Novice walkers are forever warned in dire terms not to take on more in the hills than they can comfortably deal with. Be chastened, but do not be put off. Yes, mountain rescue teams are kept increasingly busy by those with no gear and even less idea; and no, we'd never send a first time walker with zero navigation skills up Braeriach in a whiteout. Nevertheless, being under-skilled should not be treated as an absolute barrier to the great outdoors. We all had to start somewhere after all; and how is anyone to learn without getting out there? There are various possible routes from cluelessness to competence. You could invest in a course such as those run by Mountain Training, for example, or read up on on every technique in our catalogue of Hill Skills Articles. Nothing beats the satisfaction of practising these things for yourself however, from dealing with the weather to learning your way around a map and compass. If you're just starting out, keep your walks small and manageable; wait for a decent forecast on the tops; and get an early start to avoid unplanned finishes in the dark.
Walking is old hat. I've been there, done that, and already got the (smelly) T-shirt to prove it
So you've bagged 282 Munros, ticked all the Wainwrights, climbed every 3-star scramble in Snowdonia and walked the Pennine Way backwards? Firstly, well done! But having achieved so much already is no justification for hanging up your boots and spending the rest of your life on the couch. With thousands of summits in Britain, and dozens of hill lists to work through, there's always something new to discover. Approached from novel angles, even hills you thought were familiar can reveal hidden secrets; and with endless permutations of weather, mood and company, no two days out ever feel quite the same.
Climbing hills is too much like hard work
You'll get out of breath; you'll break a sweat; you'll be sore the next day. Sound like your idea of hell? Let's be brutally honest for a second. The problem here is not hills at all - it's simple lack of fitness. If we all ought to take more exercise, then rather than slogging away in some dismal gym, what better way could there be to get in shape than out in the fresh air, with a view to distract from the pain? Most of us will never run a Bob Graham Round in under 24 hours, but there's a personal hill challenge to suit any level of fitness. Whether you fancy your chances at the Lakeland 3000-ers, or hit your limit with a puff up Catbells, nobody said hillwalking should feel easy. But you know what they say - the rewards you get out are proportionate to the effort you put in.
Waking's just too darn easy - I'm a runner/climber/olympic showoff
Now you're just not trying hard enough. Seriously - think big. Go super-large on the distances; crank it up a few gears with scrambling or winter mountaineering; get wild and wooly, and never wash, on a multi-day backpacking mission. There is no upper limit to how gnarly you can make things. Try the Pennine Way in a week; the Lochaber Traverse in winter; or take a few months out to bag all the Munros in a one-er. For more on this sort of nonsense, here are our Ten Top Tips for Epic Hill Days
- INTERVIEW: James Forrest on Climbing all 273 Irish Mountains 3 Dec
- REVIEW: The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix Hoodie 2.0 30 Nov
- REVIEW: Salewa Ortles TirolWool Celliant Jacket 23 Nov
- Scotland's 10 Toughest Munros? 14 Nov
- REVIEW: Lowe Alpine Altus 42 Pack 9 Nov
- REVIEW: Scarpa's New SL Active Boot 6 Nov
- Twenty Reasons Why British Hillwalking is a Bit Weird 31 Oct
- One Minute Mountain: Schiehallion 26 Oct
- INTERVIEW: Walking the Dragon's Back over all 190 Welsh Mountains 26 Sep
- REVIEW: Thermacell MR300 Insect Repeller 25 Sep