three peaks challenge

When Does a Walk Become a Hike?

by Tim
yorkshire 3 peaks challenge

Walking or Hiking?

You sometimes hear the phrase ‘It is a great pub but a bit of a hike’ or something similar referring to the fact it is quite a walk to get there. So does that have any significance on what a hike is? But then, when you hear the term ‘price hike’ it suggests that there is an increase in the cost which may suggest that a hike is walking from a lower to higher elevation.

Walking is one the most popular pleasure pastimes in the UK. We walk to the pub, walk along a beach or take the dog for a walk but when does that walk we take become a hike?

Walking in the Hills

Four of us were walking up Holme Fell and Black Crag (an 8 mile hilly loop) in the Lake District and that question was raised. It was a long, steep, rocky section that was pretty wet and boggy and I realised I had far too many layers on. It was cold when we started, not anymore and this not like a gentle walk down to the shops. Was this the reason the question was asked?

We are all keen and experienced walkers but it was interesting as we all had quite differing views on what a hike was compared to a walk.

The answers from each of us were that a hike is:

  • “Walking in high areas, the hills or mountains”
  • “A longer more vigorous walk, longer than say 5 miles”
  • “Walking unmade trails that requires more effort”
  • “A challenging walk where you need to take a rucksack”
Somerset Coastal Path towards Minehead

What is a Trek?

When we reached more level terrain we discussed the merits of each answer for a few minutes we decided that none of us actually knew the definitive answer or even if there was one. This also prompted ‘what is a trek’? So there we had to leave it, carry on with something we did know something about, walking up hills! Curiosity got the better of me but the answer would have to wait until we got back to the pub later on and look it up on Google.

A few hours later, beer in hand and a mobile signal I looked up the actual definition of hiking. Initial Google searches turned up a huge variety of answers and it highlighted that probably all of us were in part right as there did not seem to be a definitive answer frustratingly. However we did find the following:

Hiking – Wikipedia Definition

“Hiking is a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails or footpaths in the countryside. ‘Hiking’ is the preferred term in Canada and the United States; the term ‘walking’ is used in these regions for shorter, particularly urban walks. In the United Kingdom, the word ‘walking’ describes all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps”

Cambridge Dictionary Definitions

‘Walking’: The activity of going for a walk, especially for pleasure.
‘Hiking’: The activity of going for long walks in the countryside.
‘Trekking’: the activity of walking long distances on foot for pleasure.

Hiking in Yorkshire near Dovestone Reservoir

Adventurous Walking in Natural Settings

My favourite description of hiking was a combination of various descriptions. It sums up how I most feel when out on a long planned walk out in the countryside.

“Hiking is the activity to describe adventurous walking out on uneven trails in natural settings experiencing the delights of nature. It usually takes place outdoors in the countryside, woods, forest, hills and mountains.”

Great for the Mind, Body & Soul

Walking or hiking is the ultimate outdoor experience that can be enjoyed by nearly everyone. It enables us all to enjoy the outdoors, immerse ourselves in our wonderful countryside and natural environments without any particular special skills. Hiking is very good exercise and great for the body, mind and soul.

Take small steps to start with or try taking a longer walk than usual, maybe somewhere you have never been before and include a cafe en-route. Once you make walking a larger part of your lifestyle you will enjoy the many benefits of the lure of the outdoors.

All we need is a reasonable fitness, decent walking footwear such a hiking boots or trail shoes, appropriate clothing, a rucksack with water, snacks, maps, waterproof and for some, walking poles. The equipment required much depends on the duration of your walk, the terrain and of course the weather, just be prepared. To help you find a good walk (short or long, challenging or easy) see our previous blog ‘Find Great Walks Near You’ .

So if there is a good pub on route, why not stop for a rest, it can help make your walk a very enjoyable hike.

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