10 tips for hiking in bad weather

In the current phase of bad weather we recommend that you only walk close to home, and especially avoid any upland, coastal or remote walks that could become problematic if the weather takes a bad turn, not to mention the dangers of fallen or unstable trees in our woodlands or forests.

But even during poor weather it is still important to get out for some fresh air. If you decide to go for a walk, we recommend you follow these guidelines. We also have a full suite of Mountain Safety Videos to view to tell you what to do in the event or getting lost or injured.

Queen Maeve Trail
Avoid upland walks like the Queen Maeve Trail during bad weather
  1. Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. This way, if you haven’t returned when you should have, someone reliable knows the route you have taken.
  2. Check the weather forecast. We are currently in a spell of pretty miserable weather, but things can take a sudden turn for the worse, so the last thing you want to do is to find yourself in an isolated place having to call for help.
  3. Be realistic. Are you an experienced hillwalker who has encountered poor conditions when hiking in the past? If not, you have no business heading up Knocknarea or Benbulben. As you climb the weather will likely become more challenging, so find some of the low lying walks that have clearly defined paths and where you are likely to meet other walkers.
  4. Buddy up with someone, it’s always best to have company, and you are more likely to be cautious if you feel partly responsible for the welfare of your fellow walker.
  5. Bring a fully charged mobile phone and remember that during this weather phone networks can themselves have problems, so the coverage may be more patchy than usual and sometimes networks won’t be able to connect your call.
  6. Wear suitable clothing. We are talking waterproof jacket and trousers here, as well as proper hiking boots, no trainers for what will be muddy or slippery terrain. A backpack with extra layers is also a good idea, and bring some snacks and a fully charged torch which can be used to attract attention. Again, lots of information on how to prepare for a hike in our Videos section.
  7. If you get lost or disorientated, don’t panic. Try to retrace your steps. Particularly if you walk on open ground, without the help of signage or a visible path, try to remember landmarks that can help identify your position should you decide to backtrack. If you get lost and can’t find your way back, call the Emergency Services on 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue. The same goes if you get injured.
  8. Turn back if you think the weather or visibility gets worse. If your gut instinct is that it’s time to head back, you’re probably right. The walks will be there again tomorrow, so no prizes for testing Mother Nature. Also, the weather forecasters don’t always get it right. Look around you, see if any rain fronts are moving in, if dark clouds are coming your way, there’s plenty of rain following, so turn for home while you can.
  9. Allow enough daylight. As bad as running into poor weather is, it’s much worse if you have to find your way home in the dark. In bad weather, darkness falls much earlier, so allow yourself plenty of time to get back to your car.
  10. Keep a positive attitude. Ok, we don’t want anyone taking unnecessary risks. But if you make sensible choices about the route you want to take, and prepare well, then getting wet shouldn’t cause too much discomfort. Walking in the rain can be fun, as long as you take the right approach. In the West of Ireland you’re likely to meet rain somewhere along your walk, no matter what time of year, so, plan your walk properly and then get out and enjoy the refreshing exercise on our doorstep.
Easkey Coastal Walk
Walk on clearly marked paths during inclement weather like this one at Easkey, Co. Sligo