Curbar Edge with Baslow Edge in the background

Peakwalking .. the original online guide to walking in England's Peak District

Getting Equipped

Where do I start?

If you read books and magazines about walking, you might imagine that before setting foot outside your front door you need to spend a fortune on specialist equipment. This is certainly true if you're going mountaineering or exploring the highlands of Scotland in winter. However, most of the time when you follow one of the walks on this site you're simply going for a walk in the countryside, nothing more, so you need a minimum of equipment.


Walking boot

There are three pieces of 'proper' equipment which I consider essential. The first of these is walking shoes or boots. Ordinary casual shoes are simply not up to the job, although good trainers will suffice for most of the walks on this website if the weather is dry.

There are many models of boot available, to many specifications, so the best thing for a beginner is to visit an outdoor goods shop and explain the type of walking you'll be doing. The staff are usually enthusiasts and will be glad to advise on the type of boot and, more importantly, will be able to ensure your new boots actually fit you properly!

Good boots aren't cheap but will last the average walker for several years and it's well worth investing in as good a pair as you can afford - they'll repay you with comfortable, dry feet.

Keeping Warm and Dry

The second essential is a good wind- and waterproof jacket. Fashion items are often unsuitable: the label which says 'shower resistant' means just that! There are numerous waterproof jackets in many materials but they fall into two categories; those which 'breathe' and those which don't.

Crag Hoppers waterproofNon-breathable jackets are usually coated with PVC or some other plastic. They're relatively cheap and totally waterproof but if you wear them for long periods you still get wet because your perspiration is trapped inside the jacket.

Breathable jackets allow perspiration to escape while still keeping rain out. There are several ways of giving fabric this property, one of the most popular involving a membrane with microscopic pores through which water vapour can pass but raindrops can't. Breathable jackets are expensive but you get what you pay for.

If you're only going to wear the waterproof for short periods, a non-breathable one is fine but bear in mind that you'll probably wear it much more as a wind-cheater than as a waterproof. If you think you'll be walking in the wind or rain for hours then a breathable one really is well worth the money - I'd not be without mine!

Carrying The Load


The final essential is a rucksack to carry your waterproof, food and drink, camera, sun-cream and all the other things you can't do without! Rucksack capacities are measured in litres and for day-walking one of 25 or 30 litres capacity will be plenty. If you travel light, a smaller one will do.

I prefer one with a couple of pockets on the side in addition to the main compartment, as these are useful for small frequently-required items like binoculars and sun-cream.

As with all outdoor kit, there's a huge and ever-changing range of styles and the best thing to do is seek the advice of someone in a good outdoor gear shop.

Finding Your Way

It's best to always take a map with you when you go walking. Apart from helping you find your way, maps increase your enjoyment by telling you the names of the hills, dales etc. and by pinpointing landmarks. A compass is essential for moorland walks but most valley and farmland walks are straightforward and signposted and a compass is of limited use.

There are several maps covering the Peak District but the two I suggest (simply because I use them) are Ordnance Survey Explorer OL 24 (White Peak area) and OL 1 (Dark Peak area). These have been re-branded, as they used to be called Outdoor Leisure sheets 24 and 1 respectively. These are at a scale of 1:25000 which means that each centimetre on the map represents 250 metres on the ground or, for those who don't speak metric, two and a half inches represents one mile.

In my opinion, if you have serviceable recent copies of the Outdoor Leisure versions, these will be perfectly adequate and there's little to be gained from upgrading to the new Explorer maps.

The other essential, of course, is to learn to read the map. When following one of the walks on this site, plan it out on the map before setting off and keep track of where you are all the time. That way, it should be impossible to get lost.

What Else?

The rest is really just common sense:

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