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Friday, 25 April 2014

A post for Gail.

Hi, Gail asks about keeping safe while out walking. I wrote about this in February 2013, copied and pasted here.

So, let's get back to walking. Do I ever feel unsafe? No. Have I ever been in a scary situation? No. The way someone walks can tell you a lot about them. I walk with a purpose, I walk tall with my head held high. I appear to be a confident walker who knows what she is doing. I look all around me as I walk, I take note of what is on my right, and my left. I glance over my shoulder to see if there is anyone in sight behind me. If someone is coming towards me, I eye them up, I look at their face. I make eye contact and check them out, do they look ok, or do they look dodgy. I tend to say a quick hello, and if there is room I give them a wide berth, and stride on. A few seconds later I will look behind me to check they are still walking away from me. If they look ok, I might stop for a couple of minutes and exchange a few pleasantries. Sometimes, if I feel comfortable talking to them and they seem quite nice I will chat a little longer. I would never tell anyone where I am going to be that night if I am staying out. Sensible really. I always go by my gut instinct, and have never been bothered by unwelcome attention while out walking. 

On the other hand, if I was walking with my head down, feeling nervous, worried that someone might jump on me, I would be giving out all the wrong signals. People would pick up on that and I would be an easy target. Besides, how can you enjoy a walk if all the time you are panic stricken when you meet strangers. If you play the helpless female you leave yourself wide open to anyone who wants to take advantage. If you wise up and look them straight in the eye, and demand respect, you are quids in.

If you worried all the time about what might happen, you would never go anywhere. I feel more vulnerable walking alone in a big town or city, than I do walking alone in the countryside. When I am in big wide open spaces, I feel safest. I take extra care when walking through large woods or forests, because there are more places for someone to hide, but it's very unlikely that I would come across an evil person, more likely to be another walker just like myself.

It's not a good idea to take more money than you actually need with you, or credit cards if you don't intend using them. I carry a few pounds in cash in a small purse in my back pack, anything more and I have a secret place. It is not a good idea to carry a weapon, because it can be used against you. I am not going to go into personal safety here, because that's a whole new ball game, and you will have your own ideas about that. There is a massive possiblity that neither of us will ever find ourselves in a life threatening position, so don't dwell on it, and don't let it spoil your walking. 

It goes without saying that you should carry a mobile phone while walking alone. If you slip and hurt yourself you might need to call out the emergency services. The only problem is that there isn't always a signal in the hills and mountains with some of the networks. Some phones have a GPS tracking device, mine doesn't. You might need to enlist the help of another walker if you find you have hurt yourself and are imobile. The best thing you can do is to not let yourself get into that situation in the first place. If you feel the terrain is too demanding and you don't have the experience, don't try and tackle it alone. Go with someone else. I would never have gone up Helvelyn via Striding Edge in the lake District on my own, I went with a group of people. 

If you are not very confident when you start going out on walks, you will find that you begin to feel more confident the more you do it. Stay local if you are not sure you want to go too far from home. Start with a couple of miles, build it up slowly, three miles, four miles. Most people who walk at a brisk pace walk at three miles per hour, that's on the flat. Up and down hills takes a bit longer. 

This is a link to the whole post.

I'll be back later. 


  1. Hi ilona, interesting post for solitary female walkers, when you look back to see if someone is still walking away from you what would you do if they'd turned around and were following you? A scary thought but would you run or turn and stand your ground. I don't know what I'd do in such circumstances.

    1. Hi Linda. Depends how close they were to me. Turning round and looking at them might be a deterrent and might make them think twice about following me. I would carry on walking, and turn round a second time. If they persisted in following I would head for the nearest road and hope a car would come along that I could flag down. Or, I would look for a building, house, farm, or whatever, and knock on the door. By that time the person would have hopefully gone.

      Someone did follow me once. I was coming into a village and saw some workmen and went straight up to them and told them I wanted to stand next to them and wait for the person to go. They were ok with that and asked if I needed help. I said no, I was fine, and the person walked past and after a few minutes I went in the opposite direction and lost them.

  2. Thanks for answering, it's made me think quite a bit about what would be the safest thing to do. If you carried on walking even though you'd seen they were following you wouldn't you put yourself in danger as they could grab you from behind? If there weren't any roads or buildings in view what would you do if you saw they were following?

    Would you confront the person or run?

    As I walk on my own this has been on my mind once I'm out of view or earshot of other people.

    I know we shouldn't let this spoil our enjoyment of walking but these things do happen.

  3. Most people that enjoy walking in the countryside always seem to be decent people.
    Your bimble from Thorne was perhaps a bit un-nerving when you were near the fly tipping and the travellers camp.

  4. Most people might be decent but that shouldn't make you complacent. it's completely different for a woman walking alone than it is for a man.

  5. Hi Ilona,
    Thanks for the post and answering my questions about safety.



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