By: Blonde Two

A few days ago, I gave you lovely Blondees and Blondettes a bit of winter hill advice.

One tip was to make sure that your planned route is within your capability. This wasn’t to say that we Blondes don’t think you should challenge yourselves, you should! But it is important to make sure that you get back to your base or the car before it is so dark that you can’t see what you are doing.

So how do you know if your walk is the right length?  Well one easy way to find out is to work out how long it will take you. Once you know that, you have a basis on which to make a sensible decision. This is easier than you think it might be (even a Blonde can do it) and remarkably accurate. Here are four easy steps.

1. Find out what the route distance is (preferably in kilometres). A good guide book will give this information but if you are using a map (you really should be), take a piece of string (there is one on your compass) and wriggle it around your route. Now lay the string out along the bottom of your map and find out the length of your walk. Each blue grid line (blue on Ordnance Survey maps) is 1 kilometre.

2. Work out how long it will take you to walk this distance. Most of us walk at about 4 kilometres an hour (trust us, this works out as a good average). This means that each kilometre of your route will take 15 minutes. For example, a 3km route will take 45 minutes.

3. Give yourself some extra time for going up the hills. Unless you are Superblonde (we are not), you will walk a bit more slowly uphill than you do on the flat. Count how many contour lines you will cross (only ones where you will be walking uphill) and add a minute to your time for each line.  For example, your 3km route includes a hill which crosses six contour lines. Your total walking time will be 45 + 6 minutes – 51 minutes.  (NB the height gain that each contour line marks will differ from map to map – we have found that the quick rule above works with most maps).

4. Allow time for breaks. Everyone wants to stop to admire the view and many of us have to stop for other reasons! Decide how much total time you think lunch, a cuppa and the inevitable wee will need and add that to your total. For example, your total walking time will be 51 minutes, you need 10 minutes to eat your pasty, 5 to drink your cup of tea and 2 to squat behind a bush. Your total route time will be 1hr 8 minutes.

Now, if you are sensible, you will find out when sunset is, add a little bit of contingency time to your route time and work out exactly when you need to start your route in order to get back safely.

If you are not sensible, well, have fun anyway but make sure that you take a torch!