The leaves are falling, it’s getting dark early, and we’re all living for those sunny spells where we can wrap up and get outside with our nearest and dearest before the another shower rolls in.
Yep, Autumn might be a mixed bag weather-wise, but there’s nothing quite like a stroll under crisp blue skies and clear sunshine, surrounded by reds, golds and greens. And other than slippery bits of pavement, there really aren’t any downsides.
A daytime walk is a really solid way to burn off some energy and give your head a bit of space. It also beats having to find the motivation to go out running in the cold and dark, when all you really want to do is get under a blanket and eat mashed potato.
Going solo? There’s plenty of evidence out there that says walking is great for mindfulness – feeling present and noticing stuff around you, while helping you to solve tricky problems (like that coursework you need to tackle). And if you can get yourself to some park or woodland, you’re quids in: studies have shown that just a few minutes near trees can lower your stress level.
Of course, if you don’t fancy wandering about on your own, a quickly planned walk is often the perfect way to catch up with friends while you enjoy some epic scenery. Just don’t forget to bring a flask!
Local knowledge is amazing when it comes to route planning, so asking about – mates, friends, or family if you’re not too far from home – could give you some solid ideas. Similarly, you can just look on your favourite map app for walks in local parks, canal paths and national parks.
If you’re keen on heading off the beaten (city) path and hitting some harder trails, you’ll also need to think about layers, and getting around. Apps like Komoot and OS Maps will give you bags of ideas, and even let you follow your route live.
And if you’re super keen, and ready to do some serious hill walking, you might even want to look into navigation courses, so you can learn how to use a map and compass.
Along with local Facebook groups, it’s worth checking in with your uni’s societies to see if there are already groups actively getting out there. Or you could even start your own!
There’s a saying among hillwalkers: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing decisions. That’s why, if you ask any serious walker what they’d recommend, they’ll usually say sturdy footwear and a solid waterproof.
Kitting yourself out doesn’t have to cost a fortune, of course. Charity shops are often full of preloved rain coats, boots and off-road trainers, and there are plenty of bargains out there on eBay, Vinted and Depop. Facebook also has its own used gear communities – try Outdoor Gear Exchange UK, for one.
For all that, though, there are some basics for autumn walking. Wrap up warm for a shorter walk, and consider wearing your favourite sports or hiking gear if you’re going farther. A rucksack is handy for water, snacks and carrying bits you probably don’t want in your pockets. And if it’s going to be an all-day thing, a torch or headtorch is a decent idea!
Last but not least, try and avoid cotton and jeans if you’re going to get sweaty or there’s a chance of rain. Trust us: the last thing you want is to get wet and stay wet!
Walking with music, a podcast or audiobook is one of life’s little pleasures. But don’t forget to keep up with what’s going on around you – especially if there’s loads of traffic, or you’re out and about on your own.
Along the same lines, make sure you know where you’re going, so you don’t end up (or appear to be) lost. And remember to keep your phone battery charged before you go (or pack a portable charger). This way, you can always make a call or check your maps when you need to.
When you’re home again, you might well need to freshen up your gear. Especially if it’s been a big walk through mud, and your feet (and socks) got wet.
Just bear in mind that lots of walking-friendly clothes – waterproof jackets in particular – have special coatings that can be easy to damage. If in doubt, always check the label before you throw them in the wash. And remember to check out Circuit’s easy-to-use guides before you start.