Walking in the Mountains as the Days become Shorter

This coming Sunday, the 27th October 2013 the clocks will go back one hour.  It’s obvious to say that this means that daylight won’t last as long into the evenings.  But it’s not always obvious that this will have a major effect on any mountain walk that you have planned!

Walking Ben Nevis, Snowdon or Scafell Pike is an all day walk taking from 6 to 8 hours or so depending on your, and any accompanying walkers, level of fitness.  Already mountain rescue teams have had to cope with walkers who have started their walk too late in the day, and have ended up walking in darkness.  This includes a group of 30 walkers, not many of whom appeared to have been carrying a torch having had to be rescued from Snowdon.  One of the party fell and injured an ankle trying to descend the uneven path in darkness.

The message keeps needing to be repeated about walkers being properly prepared in the mountains, but never more so as the days shorten,  and respectively so do the available hours for daylight walking. 

To help with planning a walk below is shown the times of sunrise and sunset, along with the actual length of day you will have for your walk on the three major peaks on the UK on the day the clocks go back, and on the shortest day of the year. 

On Sunday, 27th October

Ben Nevis:  Sunrise 07.19  Sunset 16.48  Length of day:  9hrs 28 min

Snowdon:  Sunrise 06.58  Sunset 16.55  Length of day:  9hrs 57 min

Scafell Pike:  Sunrise 07.03  Sunset 16.46  Length of day:  9hrs 43 min

On the 21st December

Ben Nevis:  Sunrise 08.56  Sunset 15.41  Length of day:  6hrs 45 min

Snowdon:  Sunrise 08.16  Sunset 16.06  Length of day:  7hrs 50 min

Scafell Pike:  Sunrise 08.30  Sunset 15.49  Length of day:  7hrs 19 min

General Preparations

Walkers should always be prepared by checking the weather forecast for the day before commencing a walk – and remember the days will seem even darker and shorter if rain or fog is forecast.  As winter gets a hold and the paths become treacherous with ice, only walk if you are experienced and have with you, and know how to use, ice axes and crampons.

Always carry a torch – even if you think you’ll be back in time.  Don’t rely on your mobile phone as you do not want to exhaust the battery and not be able to make an emergency call.

Make sure you have a map and compass and know how to use them.  (Oh, and make sure you have the right map with you remembering the person who tried to navigate on Ben Nevis equipped with a map of Snowdonia!) 

Be dressed appropriately – it will be very cold on the summit, and you should always be prepared for wet weather.  Whilst strong walking boots should be worn at any time of the year, in winter they are essential! 

Be sensible about your progress.  If it’s taking you longer than you thought to climb to the summit, turn back and try again another day.  Accidents are far more likely in the darkness as paths on the mountains are uneven, and in places, quite perilous, especially in wet weather.

Mountain walking in the winter months can be fun if the right care is taken, and the right preparations made.

2 thoughts on “Walking in the Mountains as the Days become Shorter

  1. Hello there,
    I am planning on doing Ben Nevis , next june, on an organised charity guided walk. I am just enquiring if it is advisable to take dogs up ?? I have a 3 year old husky and would like to walk this with her ??
    any advice or information ???

    • Dogs do do this walk – it is a long hike, about 10 miles, and will take around 6 to 8 hours to complete depending on your level of fitness. It is steep in parts, and rough ground. There are sheep around, so it will be an ‘on the lead’ walk unless your husky is extremely well trained! Is she used to hill walking? If not, I suggest you both prepare with some hill climbs as you’ll be using very different muscles to walking on the flat. Good luck – and let us know how you get on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>