These photos taken on Sunday clearly illustrate the extreme conditions you can encounter on any walk, from sunglasses to ski wear within a few metres of climbing!! Luckily everyone had taken heed of the warnings and were well prepared for the conditions. We cannot emphasis enough the importance of fitness and kit, and in case anyone has forgotten here is a gentle reminder!!!
Fitness- As a baseline if you can walk from the Courtyard Car Park, to the Cairn at the top of Slieve Gullion and back within 3 hours you could comfortably walk with our C Group.
Kit- From the outset get used to carrying a rucksack. We recommend one with a waist strap as this helps distribute the weight on your hips rather than pulling on your shoulders and back. You should be carrying: a personal 1st aid kit with the basics- plasters, blister patches, headache tablets etc., a whistle and head torch, a dry layer of warm clothing, and at all times of the year, even Summer, a hat and gloves. In addition always carry food, a hot drink and water, it takes only the slightest mishap to turn a gentle 3-4 hour walk into a mammoth 6-8 hour hike even without the conditions we encountered on Sunday!
The following are non-negotiable:
Boots- deep tread walking boots, these protect and support the ankles from sprains and breaks
Jacket– a proper outdoors water/wind proof jacket- all jackets designed for outdoor activities carry a rating for precipitation, anything with a rating over 10,000 is the ideal.
Clothing– layers of clothing is best, avoid cotton and denim as they get wet and stay wet. Most outdoors wear is made with quick drying properties.
Walking poles– poles take the pressure of the knees, the most common problem for avid hill walkers is bad knees!
Gaiters- these clip onto your boots and cover the lower leg, thus keeping feet and trouser bottoms dry when you are crossing streams or as invariably happens, step into a bog hole!
Our leaders and members are always happy to share their experience and advise new walkers on fitness and equipment, alternatively check out the FQA section of our website- www.gaponorth.co.uk
Membership re-opens in April, and at £20 or €25 for the year is very reasonable, gym membership would set you back much more and you won’t have half the craic or the snow!!