It is important that every walker is well prepared before heading out into the hills.
Hill Walking by Steve Long is the official handbook of the Mountain Leader and Walking Group Leader Schemes and is an essential reference book for those wanting to enjoy the outdoors safely.
The handbook is aimed at those individuals who wish to develop their skills in leading groups through the hills but it offers a lot of information for the solo walker as well.
The author along with contributions from the skilled staff from the Plas y Brenin Centre, aims to introduce you to the correct methods of navigation, survival, wild camping, protecting the environment, planning trips and how to avoid and handle incidents.
The book is split up into sections with each being accompanied with clear illustrations, diagrams and photographs making each topic easy to consume no matter how technical it may be.
The sections covering navigation are a good example on how the author approaches each subject. It starts with the basics of choosing the correct compass and map through more difficult skills such as back-bearings and boxing. There is also a section on navigating your route with a GPS device making sure you use it correctly and safely while in the hills.
The section covering weather is nicely researched and well produced and gives the reader a good grounding on weather systems and their different identifiers. I am sure that we have all heard of walkers that have read the weather conditions wrongly and have had to be rescued as a result so it’s inclusion in the handbook is very useful.
There is a section devoted to clothing, boots and equipment which is again broken down in to bite size chunks with each bit of equipment being explained. The author also includes a suggested kit checklist covering kit for both day trips and overnighters which is very useful to those new to walking.
There are some skills covered throughout the book that many walkers may never need to use such as rope skills and the management of larger groups of walkers but they are interesting to read and gives the reader a good understanding of the skills of a mountain leader.
While aimed at potential mountain leaders, the handbook offers a lot to the every day walker no matter if they are heading out onto the hills or out along the Fife Coastal Path. Each section is filled with good advice to help you to make sure all your walks are as safe, comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
The author, Steve Long, has produced what I see as one of the most accessible and valuable reference books on the subject of hill walking in recent years. A must read for every walker.