No matter where you live, there’s a hike to be had near you. Anyone can get into walking, trekking and hiking – as Strong Women’s new walking series proves. Every week, the brilliant founder of Black Girls Hike, Rhiane Fatinikun, will be sharing a walking adventure and a different tip for becoming a confident hiker. This week: five types of hike to try.
I often get asked what the difference is between a walk and a hike. Everyone has their own definition of both, but for me, walking is generally a casual activity done on a flat surface like pavement.
Hiking, on the other hand, tends to be done in nature and often involves changing elevations and terrains. One minute, you’re chomping through grass, the next, you’re climbing a gravel path up a hill – or following a narrow trail through woodland.
So far in this series, I’ve covered everything from what clothing to wear to the types of snacks you should bring on the trails. Now that you’ve been motivated to get hiking (having read about the mental and physical benefits of getting outdoors), it’s time to explore the types of hike available to you.
This week’s walking wonder
There are lots of different types of hike available to walkers of all backgrounds and levels of experience, and you don’t necessarily have to live in the Lake District to enjoy them.
I know I just said that hiking tends to be done in nature but if you look closely, there’s nature everywhere. Sure, it might be easier for those who live in the country to step out of their front door and start hiking but city dwellers can have hiking adventures too!
With that in mind, here are the five types of hike that I most enjoy and recommend that you try.
For beginners, I recommend a simple hike in a local natural environment.This might be your local park, woodland or forest.If you’re just starting out, try to stick to hiking trails (specifically designated routes for hikers to use).
Not only is that an obvious place to start hiking, but it’s also a great way to explore your local area. There’s so much that’s undiscovered on your doorstep. Our London group is our most active Black Girls Hike chapter, and you’re probably thinking: ‘Where can you hike in London?’ – but you’d be surprised! Our members have been completing the Capital Ring Walk, a 78-mile route through London’s green spaces and nature reserves.
Who doesn’t like to be beside the seaside? Coastal hikes provide the perfect excuse for a trip to the beach.A bracing sea breeze and the sound of waves crashing against rocks offer an amazing background to a hike.
One of my favourite coastal hikes is a section of the Welsh Coast Path, which runs between Swansea and Port Eynon. Did you know that there’s a 1,400km coastal path along the Welsh coast? It’s waymarked and really easy to follow, and there’s so much natural beauty to see. It can also be split into sections.
Hikes like this are a great way to explore the coast without having to worry about navigation.
If you want a challenge, a mountain hike is always a challenging workout. For these types of hikes, it’s especially important to plan your route – including the weather.
Remember, the weather is often colder and windier in the mountains and conditions can change quickly. That might sound off-putting but the views are also always the best the higher you go, so it’s a trade worth making. For mountain hikes, I love the Lake District; it’s not far from where I live but every time I go, it’s like I’ve just discovered it all over again. Everywhere you look is a postcard picture.
There are plenty of peaks worth tackling around the UK, from Yes Tor in Devon to Pen y Ghent in Yorkshire and the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. Sure, it might require you to travel to get to the start of your hike but it’s worth it for the satisfaction that comes from being able to say that you’ve climbed a mountain.
For all you early birds, a sunrise hike might just be the most magical way to start your day. What you lose in sleep you more than make up for in the beauty of the sky at sunrise.
Try to find a clear view somewhere high – the top of a hill, a carpark or by the coast if you can to enjoy the full power of daybreak. You’ll be glad you made the effort. Just make sure that you plan your route, pack your bag and set out your clothes the night before.Nobody wants to be scrambling around for hiking kit at 3am in the morning.
Hiking weekends are a great way to explore a new area, meet new people or spend time with family and friends in nature. In June, Black Girls Hike hosted an activity weekender in Devon with hiking, kayaking and paddleboarding and an impromptu midnight beach rave.
You don’t always have to plan your own adventures – sometimes, it’s better to just turn up and let yourself be carried along by the crowd. There are plenty of hiking weekenders around, whether it’s through something like Meet Up or a club like Black Girls Hike. Don’t worry about feeling shy or worried, these groups are full of people who don’t know each other. After an hour on the trails, you’ll feel like you’ve known everyone for years!
Rhiane’s hiking tip: try something new
Every week I’ll be sharing something hiking has taught me, and this week my advice is to try something new.
If you’re a beginner, why not explore one of your local nature trails? Check out All Trails, National Trust and The Wildlife Trust for walking routes near you. For the more experienced hikers, try a different terrain or consider a hiking challenge like the Three Peaks.Whatever level you are at, hiking can give you a new way to explore nature.
You’ll never get bored when you try something new; there’s really no limit to what you can do.
Rhiane is the founder of Black Girls Hike. You can follow her and the group on Instagram, @rhianesworld and @bgh_uk.
Love hiking? Join us in September for the first Strong Women Trek. All proceeds will be going to Care International.
Images: Rhiane Fatinikun
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