A rather nice little object (well three) is lying on my desk. It’s a new type of walking guide called Handihikes, and it’s only the size of those tiny pocket diaries we used to have.
I’ve yet to try them out in the field (or on the fell) but I thought the idea sounded brilliant when I read about them in a hiking magazine: all you need to guide you in your walk in a compact pack.
It combines part of an OS map with a selection of walks – 3 or 4 to each Handihike, plus extras such as hints on where the best views are, and where to get a good cup of tea or pint after your walk (‘Handilikes’). It folds out like one of those compact city-guide maps, and they’re waterproof. Anyone who walks in Britain will know how important this is.
They are the initiative of a couple called Kate and Andy who say: ‘It all started with a new year’s resolution to get out and make something of our shared love of the outdoors.’
The first 18 Handihikes cover the Lakes, and are based in various valleys – I’ve got Borrowdale and Great Langdale – or walks from certain centres such as Glenridding.
The text includes description of the walk. This includes the way up and, something most guides neglect, the way down. Most mountain accidents occur during descents. There are easy to navigate instructions and advice on levels of difficulty. They also all include hints on navigation and tips on staying safe walking.
I think this increases their appeal to the walker starting out on this fantastic pastime. It reminds would-be hikers that walking on the mountains is a sport that has a few easy-to- follow rules, and that going up onto the high fells is not the same as an amble in the valley.
A Handihike is sure to be part of my walking kit when I next go to the Lakes, and I’ve been walking those fells since I was 3.
I’ve long thought that traditional walking guides that contain hardcore walking route instructions and nothing else are a dying breed. These cute, tiny and lightweight newcomers can only add to the enjoyment of walking.