Solo Hill Walking - Alison Hope

'The big reveal'.  That's the phrase my inner monologue repeats back to me as I reach closer to the top...actually,

I think I even say it out loud...who cares, no one is around anyway.

 

I love to wander the Scottish hills alone, I like walking with friends too, however, I mostly go out alone - I think everyone should give it a go at least once.

I've only been walking solo for a couple of years now, for me it all started with an urge to get out and do more of the things I really wanted to do, without having the need for anyone to be there with me for company.  I went to the places I wanted to go.  I pushed myself out my comfort zone and went to a festival on a wee Scottish island. I had volunteered to drive a performer from the airport to the boat, I hesitated so much about doing it, a bit terrified to go alone, but I also really wanted to go. So, I did. I had the best time!

 

I've always been a big fan of the outdoors and Scottish landscape, but it wasn't until a solo trip to Skye in May 2015 I thought I'd quite like to climb some bigger hills and that's what a did.  I hired a guide only knowing I was going up 'a hill', which turned out to be three munros on the Cuillin, including the inaccessible pinnacle...and although quite terrifying when you realise you have a bit of vertigo, it was brilliant, I wanted to do more. 

 

I've been walking the hills solo (and in good weather - gotta get the views!) since then and I think it is hugely beneficial both physically and mentally.  For me, climbing hills and reaching the top gives me a huge sense of calm and overall wellbeing.  Climbing hills can be very tough going - as I sit typing with my feet up, my legs ache from being out on the hills at the weekend - so of course, with that level of exertion, there is the natural endorphin high.  As well as the physical benefits, I feel the time alone in nature is therapeutic, gives you time to recharge, I can happily walk along sorting out whatever's on my mind, or just walk along taking in the views, just being content in my surroundings.

Then there also the sense of achievement from reaching the top.  Who doesn't like to achieve, and when you can do this in the space of 2/3 hours, what's not to love.

Self-reliance is essential when walking alone and I like that, being completely responsible for planning routes, reading maps, being responsible for your own safety, not losing your shit if things go wrong.

And then there are the views, ah, the views.  Go up a hill and drink it in. 

What I bring:

Waterproof boots

Enough water and food

sun cream

waterproof jacket/trousers

extra layers

hat/gloves

map

compass/gps

camera

phone with extra charger

headtorch

(a whistle and emergency shelter is something I plan on adding to my kit)

 

Here's some tips if you're new to the game:

 

If you're inexperienced but fancy the idea of solo walking, why not start with a hill with a well-defined path

(there are a good few to choose from), or get out somewhere more challenging with a guide to start you off. 

 

If you do go out alone make sure you plan ahead

Leave in enough time to avoid darkness

Check the weather, including windspeed - met office/mountain forecast for specific hill not just surrounding area

double check route

Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back.

Take a navigation course

Check walkhighlands.com for detailed routes (Scotland)