In reply to AnnaSpanna: yes of course! I'v been doing it for years and never had any problem whatsoever. It hadnt even occurred to me it could be a problem. Other than winter mountain walks - but thats for totally different reasons.
I've been away a couple of times this year on my own for a few days and stayed in Youth Hostels. I have always found them to be great places to stay as a woman on your own and have been lucky enough to meet some really friendly people there.
As for walking, well I generally feel unsafe mainly because I can't read a map and have the worst sense of direction ever. But I stick to the "tourist" walks with nice big signage and I'm usually fine. Not met any psychos out yet but I guess there's always time.
Go for it!
I've also been walking alone for years. Early on I was pretty nervous, but more about getting lost than anything else. I also started out using Youth Hostels, they are great if you are on your own as you always meet nice people so you have someone to chat to. Over the years I've got more confident and would happily camp alone now too.
I do tend to make sure someone knows where I am going, and I phone in at the end of the day so they know I am safe.
I've always been very independent, and hate the idea of not doing something just because I am female. I like to think the psychos are few and far between, and if someone is out looking for trouble they are much more likely to be in a town on a saturday night than wondering around the countryside!
Hope you have a fab weekend.
I walk (all day), mountain bike (miles from home), road bike (miles from home) and run (woods, moors, tracks and trails) on my own. I also live on my tod so don't have anyone to check in with when I'm going out or check back in with when I get home - I like it that way.
I've no concerns although I am always very aware of my route, what's coming up etc.
I would say that if it's something new for you build your confidence over a period of time. It's the same as when you've had a long lay off from climbing you are always nervous on the first climb and then the more you get out regularly the more confident you are.
Also if you learn to be self sufficient then you know that you can sort yourself out.
Yup, I walk alone and I like it. I take more time over nav when I'm on my own (partly because I have an innate fear of getting lost, and partly because on my own I can spend more time without delaying anyone) but also cover more ground since I only have to factor in my own pace. I also like scrambling alone - no hanging about waiting for friends to catch up.
I'm not uneasy, but I do carry more stuff when alone. My concerns are more personal safety should an accident happen, rather than other people. If walking alone in winter, I pack a small sleeping bag and bivi bag and often a little stove and drinks. Just in case I get injured and no-one is in the immediate vicinity.
Then again, that's for high mountains. For a signed route like the SDW I'd just get out and have fun. Pack a book and stop at a nice pub en route.
In reply to AnnaSpanna:
Another reply to say 'do it' - I did a 3 day trip walking part of the SDW on my own with no problems at all. A few cheery hellos from other walkers but certainly no hassle from anyone.
When I finished breastfeeding sprog no 1 (after 14 months!!) I really felt the need to get away. I spent 3 days walking part of the Penine Way on my own, staying at Youth Hostels - I agree, great places to be on your own. I found I had to politely decline pleasant company, rather then feeling lonely! I was really appreciating time to myself.
I enjoyed the feeling of having no-one else to rely on, depend on, or otherwise think about in any way whilst navigating. Stopping whenever I liked, starting when I liked. Wonderful! I never felt scared at all. Shame I'm about to have sprog no 2, will have to wait a while before I can do it again ;-)
Yeah I walk alone very often, the only time I tend not to walk alone is at night even of I know the area. But I think if I think as long as you have got a phone with you so you can contact somebody and its daylight and generally use your common sense then yep deffinatley. Always good to take a dog to if you can hehe
In reply to AnnaSpanna: i remember two meetings with a lone lass the first wales a mist coverd mountain she was going north i was going south we had a chat then we both diserperd in to the mist no 2 chew valley i was on my way to meet a friend at whimbery and i meat a lass again we had a little chat she continued on her way i did so on mine
I backpacked the West Highland Way solo (well, it wasn't very solo as there were hordes of other people doing it at the same time...) and I've done a couple of weekends solo munro bagging. I like solo walks - I'd like to do a longer remote trip solo. And I agree with the others - the hazards you face in a mountain environment are hazards regardless of your gender.
I used to live in a remote rural village about half an hour's walk from the railway halt. My 17 year old step daughter used to catch the train to college and walk to and from the halt across fields. She had been brought up in the country and felt comfortable and at home in it.
When the winter evenings started to draw in, I suggested that I meet her at the halt to walk back with her, but she insisted that she would be fine on her own saying that the chances of there being anyone stalking the country fields at night intent on finding a lone female to molest were negigible. On the other hand she felt a much greater risk walking through the town from college to the station in the evening, and on a couple of occasions had uncomfortable encounters with wierdos trying to chat her up!
I think you will be fine on the South Downs Way, the chances are there will be quite a lot of dog walkers, cyclists and other hikers up there, particularly at a weekend. If you feel uncomfortable aim to be down well before dusk (although for the reason stated above night is probably the safest so long as you avoid the few downland car parks which attract courting couples and voyeurs!!).
BTW I think you will find it hard to do the whole walk over just a weekend. I did it quite a few years ago with two of my kids and we took 4 days averaging about 20 miles a day. We actually wild camped pitching the tent after dark and having it down at dawn. We never saw a soul up there overnight. Although you could see the lights of the coastal towns below it felt really wild and remote - like being up in the mountains!
By far the biggest problem in walking the South Downs Way is finding water. You need to take plenty and fill up at every opportunity.
In reply to AnnaSpanna: These days I often have the dog for company, and sometimes its good to go with friends, but yes, I have walked and been on various other trips alone. I love the solitude, the thinking time, the self sufficiency. Not to mention being able to please yourself and minimal group faffery. A few of my friends think I'm mad and I usually censor what I tell my parents (they worry, even though I'm a grown up!) but I can think of far more dangerous things to do.
My tips would be to trust your instincts, the vast vast majority of people are no trouble, but if someone does worry you then get away from the situation and don't put your self in danger by being too polite or worrying about offending someone. Consider where you are going to stay, maybe a nice b+b (try late rooms?) YHA or a campsite with families if you are worried. Take a book so that you have something to read if you are on your own or don't want to get into conversations.
I would say following the sound advice above which I'm sure you are aware of, go for it. I see from your profile your are TW lass. A friend and I have done the TWC twice in the last couple of months and excluding the towny sections hardly saw a soul. We also did the WieldWay, Gravesend to Eastbourne and literally saw no one in the remote spots over the course of just over two days and 82 miles.
A bit dissapointing to realise that few people want to enjoy the stunning South East in that way! Does make pitching up an easy task tho'.
In reply to AnnaSpanna:
In more than 30 or so years of going out in the hills on my own & with others & I can only think of 2 occasions when I have felt less than comfortable because I was female, rather than non-gender specific worries such as navigation/weather/dodgy conditions.
The occasions were:
Aged about 7, a "gentleman" at Sandwood Bay approached my mam & I in our tent wearing nothing but his boots, rucksack & a sun-hat. Turned out he was indeed a gentleman as he tipped his hat to us & continued on his way, but seeing us did appear to please him, and my questions to my mam were probably the most awkward part of the proceedings!
In my early twenties, I should have known better, but found myself sharing a popular bothy with a bunch of lairy lads on a Friday evening. I drank their whisky till a reasonable hour before retiring to "my" room. I then growled at anyone that tried to share the room!
So, I guess my tips/ideas would be that if you are feeling nervous make sure you stay somewhere populous & ideally where there will be other people on their own - youth hostels being the obvious ideal solution that others have already mentioned.
In reply to AnnaSpanna:
I have had many happy days walking alone and never yet felt it to be a problem other than my dodgy map reading skills. Have walked in isolated areas where you hardly meet anyone if at all; normally popular areas that are quiet because it's midweek, and places where it's as busy as Piccadilly Circus! (I also often walked alone at all times of the night in South London (Brixton/Streatham). Never had a problem with that, either), A confident stride is the thing! Go out and enjoy.
In reply to practicalcat:
Just to add: confidence does go a long way. If you look nervous, unpleasant people are more likely to see you as an easier target. However, most people out there are helpful and lovely. Plan well to minimise finding yourself in a stressful situation.
If you have the right frame of mind, You'll Never Walk Alone.
As you walk through the storm, keep your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark. Walk on thorugh the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams may be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone, you'll never walk alone.
In reply to IainRUK: I went running along the SW coast path alone last week. The running was good, the falling was ok but the landing left alot to be desired! Deep gash in my knee requiring six stitches but thankfully I was only 1/4 mile away from the car when it happened so was able to limp back.
I go out often on my own and feel no threat whatsoever. I've kinda got the view that if you live your life in fear then you're increasing your chances of not living a life.
I shall be out running again as soon as possible but maybe I'll pay a bit more attention to where I'm stepping next time...
Yes, I walk alone - partly because I enjoy it, partly because it's far more practical than trying to find someone to go with when snatching a couple of hours without kids at short notice. At the moment, almost all my walking/running is alone.
I love walking alone. Don't do enough of it. There is no way that you are going to meet a psycho on the hill.
I have met some wonderful people out walking. Had some great chats on hillsides. It is fascinating to me that lots of men wander the hills at will but to us gals it is seen as a big deal.
The worst people you are going to meet are these:
There is the well meaning older man who thinks you need help, there is the large group of inexperienced and noisy walkers who think your are irresponsible for going out alone, and there is the young puppy who thinks you are amazing because you walk alone and becomes hard to shake off!!
Don't drive & spent fun (& v limited budget) w/ends on SDW & on other long distance UK paths with overnight wild camping as walking won't always coincide with convenient campsites/YHA. I put my little green tent up discreetly after dark & take it down early am + scoot off for pub supper sometimes & feel VERY reassured by just how hard it is to find in the dark if you don't know EXACTLY where it is
.. you're absolutely right to consider risk. I have had issues when out alone, but NEVER ever walking / exploring really outdoor places. In fact quite the opposite - pot of tea left outside my tent was my favourite
There are no rules but experience suggests weirdoes prefer busier spots. Go out & enjoy!
Considering the number of women who've posted here who walk alone regularly, I have to say that I can only think of 2 or 3 occasions when I've been walking that I've encountered a lone female on the same path. Maybe they hide when they see me coming
Around this area (Tun Wells/ Sussex/ Kent), there's loads of walking that I'd consider "safe" for a lone female. Most of the South Downs Way should be fine. The Tun Wells Circular is a nice long walk, and away from the couple of "busy" sections, as someone else says above, you won't see anyone much at all.
You can "make up" loads of walks on and around Ashdown Forest....there'll be dog-walkers within about 500 metres of the car park sites up there, but once you're away from those, again, you're not likely to see many people.
If you're worried about walking on your own in this relatively densely populated area, you could always join Tunbridge Wells Mountaineering Club...some of us go out walking or bike-riding at weekends if we don't fancy climbing sandstone, or if there isn't an away trip on.
In reply to AnnaSpanna: As with anywhere else, men are always more likely to be attacked. We just like to think of women as vulnerable, and more likely to blame them if something does happen. Go for it!
In reply to AnnaSpanna: Hi, I'm new to this site and am looking for a little advice - I've done quite a lot of walking over the years but have never done it alone - it has always been a bloke takes the lead - I have never navigated an OS map or stayed out in a youth hostel etc - approaching 40 I'm kind of thinking it's about time I found my confidence! I've spent a fair bit of time in Wales (albeit never alone) and am wondering if anyone can give a few tips to a female looking to start picking her confidence back up and navigating herself in the great outdoors! Sorry if I sound a bit of a wuss!
You don't sound a wuss at all, lass. But believe me, the youth hostel thing is a lovely thing to do. Although there are other organisations than the YHA who do hostels, the YHA do have a lovely website. Pick somewhere you fancy going and book. They mostly have single sex dorms (if you're unable to get a private room - I never generally bother with a private room).
I like to go places which are fairly near to a town centre as once I arrive, I don't want to get my car out again. So I'll walk into town, find the Information place and suss out some walks. I can't read a map and have a pathetic sense of direction but even I can find some nice "tourist" walks to do. Then I also suss out a nice restaurant for dinner - although some of the YHAs can provide evening meal and self-catering. I'll also book in advance to go to the theatre if there's a good one locally.
Map-reading skills are often portrayed as difficult to acquire, but they're not. You can buy a compass and OS sheet and then pick things up as you go. If you stick to well-pathed routes in fair conditions, then just pre-plan your route on the map the night before then follow your progress as you go, taking the odd bearing here and there to pick out features and confirm roughly where you are. There are a few books - one called Mountain Navigation by Croft(?) - which set out how to do the basics, and some more advanced skills too, but the basics are pretty much all you'll need for now.
I guarantee that the mountaincraft you already have as a result of all that walking will be more than you realise.
Wouldn't bother with youth hostels, though! Nice B&B or hotel!
The advantage of a hostel though is that it's generally occupied by others who want to do stuff outdoors. And if you're sharing a dorm you can get talking to others and maybe join them in their plans. Having said that, I've always had quite firm ideas of what I've wanted to do so never actually done that myself!
The next time you are out walking with a friend or group of friends, (or club, or whoever you walk with), make sure you have a mpa too. Get the person who is navigating to explain what they are doing, and show you where you are on the map. Try to understand how the map relates to what you can see around you, and vice versa. Then, when you want to walk on your own, choose a straightforward walk with a good waether forecast.
This is the way I have progressed - I have done a couple of solo overnight backpacking trips. I would still be reluctant to go out on my own with a very poor weather forecast, especially in winter (I've never walked on my own in winter).
> (In reply to AnnaSpanna) Hi, I'm new to this site and am looking for a little advice - I've done quite a lot of walking over the years but have never done it alone - it has always been a bloke takes the lead - I have never navigated an OS map or stayed out in a youth hostel etc - approaching 40 I'm kind of thinking it's about time I found my confidence! I've spent a fair bit of time in Wales (albeit never alone) and am wondering if anyone can give a few tips to a female looking to start picking her confidence back up and navigating herself in the great outdoors! Sorry if I sound a bit of a wuss!
A great way to learn to navigate and map read is to buy a cheap GPS that will give you a 6 fig OS ref and a book on navigation. That way you have a safety net in case you mess up. The other thing, which I have done with a mate of mine is to go for a walk somewhere not using the map (best done in a national park in the summer) then just sit down at some point, get the map and compass out and try to work out exactly where you are (you will know roughly, but should be able to triangulate your position). The GPS is the judge to accuracy.
In reply to Tina: I would start by getting a 1:25000 orange cover OS map of where you live (or another area you know really well) and have a good look at, try to find all the places you know on it, follow on the map all your day to day routes on it, look at the landmarks you pass, use the key to start learning the symbols, then go for a walk somewhere you already know or signposted and take the map with you and keep looking at what is around you and how this is shown on the map. Maybe you can see a church in the distance, can you tell if its a spire or tower? Can you find it on the map? Try to get the map turned the right way using landmarks. Try to identify footpath junctions and changes in direction. It becomes easy with a little practise. You can often borrow maps from the library.