Walking is one of the few activities that can be enjoyed in Laois and Offaly all year round. When planning a walk on any walking route, consideration should be given to the following:
Walk Planning Checklist
- Up to date Map & Guide
- Weather Check
- Gear Check - Footwear, rainwear, warm clothes, hat & gloves
- Food & Drink - Warm Drink, Water / Hydrating Drink, Light Snacks etc.
- Tell someone about your plans
- Emergency telephone number & local taxi numbers etc.
- Accommodation plans - if planning multi-day hike
Clothing and Equipment
Clothing and equipment requirements will depend on factors such the duration, distance, and degree of difficulty of your chosen walk. Apart from the Easy loops which probably only require a strong pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothing, the recommended minimum gear for the loops, treks, ways and eco-walks includes:
- sturdy walking boots
- waterproof jacket
- water/liquid and snack
- mobile phone
- a mapguide or Ordnance Survey Sheet.
Additional useful items include a warm hat and gloves, a whistle, waterproof over-trousers, a torch, a first aid kit - and a rucksack to carry them!
- Ensure you have the fitness, clothing and equipment needed for the walk you choose.
- Check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Contact WeatherDial (Leinster Region) on 1550 123 851 or www.meteireann.ie
- Leave details of your plans with somebody and contact that person when you return.
- Allow plenty of time for your walk – and plan to finish your walk well before dark.
- As a rough guide, allow 1hr per 3km.Know what time it gets dark at, and plan to finish your walk well before that time.For seashore walks check the times of the tide to ensure that you won't be cut off by rising water.
- If in a group, stay together and watch out for each other. Take regular breaks and be guided by the pace of the slowest walker.
- When walking on roads be aware of all traffic.
- Know where you are at all times. Pay close attention to the waymarking, stay on the official Way, and use this mapguide or another map to keep track of your location.
- In the event of a serious accident or genuine emergency contact 999 or 112 and ask for the Mountain Rescue Service.
If something goes wrong
If you think you are lost: -
- Don't panic, look at what's around you and think about where you have walked and the last place you saw a waymarker or signpost. You may have missed a marker or there may be a marker missing so you may have to go back to that last marker to find the correct way.
- Study the map and try to work out your location, your direction of travel, where you are now and where you are going.
- Back track to the last marker or to a point that is located on the Way.
- If still lost look for alternative routes like roads and tracks that may also get you back on the Way, or to where you are going or back to where you have just walked from.
In the event of a more serious emergency or accident: -
- You can call the Mountain Rescue Service. Phone 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue. Mountain Rescue is a voluntary service and should only be contacted in a genuine emergency.
- If you need to send people to phone for help, make sure they can find their way and give details of the group's location and the nature of any injuries.
- Treat any injuries to the best of your ability and make the casualty as warm and comfortable as possible. NB: Ensure the other members of the group are also safe and comfortable as it may take a number of hours for help to arrive.
Am I trespassing on private property when walking on a Waymarked Way?
No you are not. All Waymarked Ways have been developed with the kind support and agreement of the respective landowners along the line of the route.
Choose your walk wisely
Decide if you want a long distance walk, an energetic hill walk or a more leisurely lowland stroll (Easy, Moderate or Difficult). Decide how long (in time) you want to walk for.
Research the waymarked walking routes (sections) that are located in the region you are visiting or plan to walk in. Call into local tourist information points and ask people locally for advice and up to date information. You may use the details this site has on each of the Ways as a guide to further information.
Match the route choice with the ability (fitness and experience), and interest of the group. If you are not experienced in walking on Waymarked Ways begin on the sections that are graded easy and consider joining a guided walk or local walking group.
Issues to consider while walking
- Use a map to keep track of where you are and the progress you are making along the line of the Way. Mark/tick off the markings on the map as you go.
- If in a group, stay together and watch out for each other
- Be aware of traffic, especially if walking on busy roads
- Don't rush, take breaks, and most importantly enjoy yourself !
NB: Watch for changes in the weather, if it deteriorates be prepared to alter the route or turn back.
When to Walk
Winter walking often has the advantage of clear, frosty, refreshing air, and most landscapes take on a special beauty after a light fall of snow. The worst that Irelands winter has to offer can usually be weathered by wearing suitable gear and by taking it for granted that there are few places off the tarred road that are not at least partly wet and boggy.
In summertime there is great life in the countryside, with an abundance of young animals and birds swelling the wildlife population, and the terrain is usually drier. The special offerings of delicate new growth in Spring and the rich russet shades of autumn make these seasons very appealing to all visitors to the countryside.
For further information contact www.walkireland.ie