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Top Tips for Walking in Winter

What to do so you will stay dry, warm and safe yet still have fun in the Shropshire

Winter walking requires a great deal more kit than the same outing in summer. It's usually a longer and more strenuous expedition, mainly because there is more likely to be snow, ice, wind and cold. Sometimes all four!

Your rucksack for winter - You'll need a bigger rucksack than in summer so that you can fit in all your winter kit.

What to wear in winter - Wear extra layers and ensure you have a good-quality waterproof and windproof jacket. Start by putting on a couple of base layers, add a mid-layer fleece or soft shell jacket and also a highly waterproof jacket. If it is dry when you start out, you could stow the waterproof jacket in your rucksack. The same is true for your legs. If it's dry wear your favourite walking trousers and carry a pair of waterproof trousers in your rucksack.

Winter-specific walking boots are a must. You need boots that can be fitted with crampons when you encounter snow and ice. Even if there is only a light dusting of snow you will need to wear more rigid shoes for walking than you had for summer.

If you are unsure that your boots are suitable then pay a visit to The Outdoor Depot in Church Stretton who do a free professional walking boot check and can advise you on specialist equiptment you might need for winter weather conditions.

Get some winter warm socks - choose natural wool such as Merino for warmth and non-pong - a hat with ear covers and gloves. The most important part of my winter walking kit is gloves. You could layer your gloves, starting with a pair of thin silk under-gloves and then add a pair of ski mittens or "lobster" mittens on top.

Always take spare clothes - You might not need them, but if you do you'll be very grateful for extra layers, especially if the clothes you are wearing get wet or you find yourself stuck on the hills in an emergency situation. Pack at least another two baselayers, a fleece, a lightweight insulated jacket that can be stuffed into a corner of your rucksack.

Other winter items for your rucksack include a map and compass (in case your GPS doesn't work), water and food (always take more than you think you'll need in case). If you are planning a serious walk then an emergency shelter is useful. Other things to consider are hand warmers, balaclava, crampons, ice axe, extra energy bars, a flask of tea or coffee and a head torch with extra batteries.

Crampons and ice axes - These winter essentials are only useful if you know how to use them. Attend a winter skills session to find out how to walk in crampons in the mountains and how to arrest a fall with an ice axe. You'll also learn how to keep yourself warm and safe if you get into difficulty on the hills in snow.

Words of caution: Do not walk on the Shropshire Hills in the snow unless you are experienced or with someone who is experienced.

The dangers of the winter hills and mountains are obvious, including less daylight hours and poor weather

Walkers should be particularly aware of sudden weather changes. In winter it can be fine at sea level and a total white out halfway up a hill. The changes in weather happen very quickly with height gain.

Other tips for winter walking safety

Weather check: Before you go walking, check the weather. Don't take unnecessary risks.

Tell a friend: Walk with a friend and tell someone else where you are going and your expected time back home.

Learn to navigate: Using a GPS is all very well until it stops working or you need to double check where you are. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. If in doubt attend a winter navigation course before heading off.

Now you're ready to go out and enjoy the fabulous winter Shropshire Hills