It might sound easy, but planning a route is more than simply a matter of getting from A to B. You need to understand all the factors that can affect the journey and respond accordingly.
"A good route plan consists of breaking down the journey into stages, calculating how long each stage will take to cover and, by adding all these together, finding the total travelling time," according to the Scouts.
Consider the variables
These are the things that affect route planning but change all the time depending on the nature of the hike or trek. Variables include things like access – can you get through a field or is it private land? Time of year also impacts your route – should you go over the hill in mid-winter, or take a longer route around to avoid snow?
The type of equipment you are carrying and the number of escape routes you plan will also vary depending on the nature of the trek.
When calculating a route, you need to understand this simple rule. Basically, it allows you to figure out how long it will take a fit person to walk a given distance, taking into consideration the increase or decrease in altitude.
Naismith's Rule states that "a fit person can walk, on flat ground, five km in an hour, plus half an hour for every 300 metres". Of course this doesn't take into account the amount of kit you are carrying or the nature of the underfoot terrain.
Ordnance Survey maps, a silva-type compass and a piece of string or special rule are all essential walking accessories
. You should bring an emergency card, which gives instructions as to what to do should an emergency situation arise.
· Start off by selecting your starting and finishing points.
· Using the appropriate map, break the journey into smaller manageable stages. Use a piece of string or special rule to measure the distance, and using Naismith's Rule, calculate the time each stage should take.
· Using your route plan, complete the other details such as height gained and description of ground.
· Check the route for the other variable factors - time of year, different terrain types, how much gear you are planning to carry etc.
You also need one more thing; common sense. Ask yourself some simple questions when planning s route such as how safe is it, how long, how appropriate and how easy is it to follow.
It might sound obvious that the shortest route is not necessarily the easiest, but it can be tempting to simply draw a straight line and try to figure it out on the hoof. Don't ignore obstacles on the map and think 'I'll figure it out as I go'.
Equally, a route with a million different way marks and junctions may just be too complicated to follow and you could get lost very easily.
From the safety point of view, the physical demands of the route should be considered carefully. It might be ten miles shorter one way, but if it involves a steep ascent up a rocky face, it might just be better to go the long way round.
Whatever route you chose, make sure you have the right footwear to accompany you on your journey. We covered the benefits of having the correct footwear in another blog post, so make sure you check out our boots sale
to ensure you are not caught short in trainers in the wrong conditions.