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Walking Etiquette

Walking Etiquette


Postby kilima36 » Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:11 am

Hi - just wondering what the walking etiquette is when there are less established paths with some seeming to disappear as was my experience when walking up to the start of the ascent of Carn Dearg especially and then Carn Sgulain and A'Chailleach yesterday.

I want to minimise the impact of my walking as much as possible as was easier with the 1st 3 of the Munros I've climbed as they had well established paths:

- Lochnagar
- Ben Vorlich
- Stuc a Chroin

I'm very new to this as just started in July. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby AHillTooFar » Mon Aug 30, 2021 2:08 pm

I am not sure there is such a thing as walking etiquette. However, minimising erosion and damage to flora and fauna is a worthy goal.

I like paths and will always try and follow them even if often they appear just to be deer paths. But sometimes, paths themselves can be damaging and cause erosion and spreading foot fall throughout a slope might cause less harm.

Been a couple of years since I did those hills (barring slugain, seen no appeal) but I do remember going off path on both of them due to absent mindedness. So I probably did not have the same experience you did.

Given paths are not often created with planning before hand, I say make your own way if easier. Your individual contributions are less than deer or 4x4 tracks anyway.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Marty_JG » Mon Aug 30, 2021 2:40 pm

The point of off-trail paths or off-trail generally is very few people will do anyway, so the numbers aren't high enough to do significant damage.

I was clambering up a face a few weeks ago, kind of following a GPX trail on my phone, and got lost... because the path I was supposed to take forked up over less grassy terrain and thus less noticeable, in terms of visual obviousness the trail I followed amounted to a well-trodden Death March eventually going over impassable cliffs. So who had trodden this Death March trail for me to foolishly follow? I looked up and saw the bank, uncaring faces of a herd of sheep. Like Hill2Far says we're not the only ones up these places making trails.

So anyway, the big etiquette things are probably well within your domain of thought already:

    don't leave any litter, this includes orange peel, egg shells, sandwich crusts
    keep dogs under close control near livestock
    don't tread on anything other than grass if you can possibly help it
    if you have to poop do it away from water, away from trails, preferably bury it
    never leave toilet tissue, only bury camping toilet tissue

But otherwise going "off trail" is something a lot of people do here without erosion harm, so for the most part that's fine etiquette.

Perhaps the most damaging erosion that can happen is when people are going up the "main" path, but just on the edge of it for a bit more traction or whatever reason, that can erode the main path to become wider and wider.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby kilima36 » Mon Aug 30, 2021 3:14 pm

Thank you Marty_JG and AHillTooFar for your replies as they have been very helpful. I think I've maybe overthought this as I did the exact same following a GPS route that took me off where others had treaded before (not an actual path) so I went across land to try and get back onto the GPS route. I've now found out that GPS routes aren't entirely accurate and so will give you a direction rather than being pipoint accurate. There was a bit of zigzaging trying to get back onto my GPS route.

Hopefully with experience I'll start to understand the lie of the land better rather than being fixated with following a GPS route. Yesterday was good expereince as I needed to be self-reliant as I walked solo. With just a bit over 15 miles I never saw one other walker.

And I never realised there was camping toilet tissue. Thanks again for your replies.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Marty_JG » Mon Aug 30, 2021 3:56 pm

The toilet tissue is about not having chemicals in it and being highly biodegradable. Coghlans, Kampa, etc. are all known brands. Amazon, EBay, etc., can help you out if your local outlet can't. Its relatively expensive but it's only for occasional use not your day-to-day business.

Note that "biodegradable" is a slightly hit and miss term, biodegradable material typically requires a minimum temperature, and that's why allegedly biodegradable plastics have been found on the seabed after many years as the low temperature inhibited degradation. SO... if you're going at altitude, your best bet is to "doggy bag" it and carry it to lower areas for disposal. Best would be to carry both poop and tissue, but if you can't face that at least bury your poop and doggy-bag the tissue. A well-knotted scented doggy bag is not as bad as it sounds in the outside mesh of a pack. If in doubt don't be scared about double-bagging it. Better to be safe than suffer a split-bag-in-the-rucksack. :lol: Another tip as a dog owner is to NOT bag it up like a balloon, as some people I've seen do, make sure there is very little air in it before tying the top. I know mountaineers put their poop bags into a second ziplock bag, but they're doing multi-day hikes, that might be excessive for a day walker.

What is "at altitude" in the UK? That will vary by geography but a rule of thumb will be the treeline which is claimed to be somewhere between 500-600 m (1700-2000 ft) in the UK.

- - -

EDIT: and I know this not the first time on this forum I have talked a load of s... :lol:
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby mrssanta » Mon Aug 30, 2021 5:38 pm

A lot of the paths we walk on in the hills are "baggers paths" in other words they have not been formally constructed but have appeared due to the passage of many feet. This means that on places such as ridges and near summits, where really there is only one way to go, there may be a clear path, but then it will disappear when you get on a flat or broad place ( where you might feel you need it more). This is why it is important to learn to read a map and navigate yourself. Especially on the less frequently walked hills
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby simon-b » Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:37 pm

The right to walk or climb on pathless terrain is an important one, that should be protected, and does seem to be coming under pressure these days. It's also true that as walkers and climbers, we use that right responsibly. Kalima, you appear to have been perfectly responsible on your walks so far, so nothing to worry about.

Examples of responsibilities to be aware of are, in Scotland, staying on ridges and recognised routes during the deer stalking season, on days when stalking might be taking place. And in Wales and England, checking that you're on recognised access land if going off piste.

Happy wandering, within the Scottish right to roam and English/Welsh access laws!
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby WalkWithWallace » Tue Aug 31, 2021 8:58 am

There's no etiquette as such, particularly on pathless sections, perhaps be mindful of birds during the nesting season.

When there is a path, you should avoid creating 'braids', which is taking a wide berth of boggy/muddy sections widening the path and damaging vegetation.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Alex W » Tue Aug 31, 2021 5:06 pm

It's a very good question from the OP and one I have thought about. On well made "official" paths it's obvious that you should follow them if they are going your direction. The problem of the path widening around boggy bits seems to be getting worse, maybe with increased footfall. I've actually found that if you you walk through the centre i.e. where the "official" path is, it can often be more stable underfoot because you get the benefit of the bedrock/ path stones and the worst you get is a couple of inches of water. It's not 100% successful so don't blame me when you sink up to your knees.

When you are off path on a descent or ascent it can be difficult. I'm much more aware now of disturbing birds. While it's nice to see wildlife at close quarters, I'm always a bit guilty that I've frightened a bird out of its nest.

Paths in Scotland can be a bit hit and miss. There are marked paths on OS maps which look solid until you get there and find that the path disappears into bog and never really reappears. By contrast there are great paths which don't appear on any map. It's one of Scottish walking's great pleasures to be expecting a long section of rough ground and then find yourself rolling along at speed on an unexpected path which goes exactly where you want it.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Border Reiver » Wed Sep 01, 2021 10:46 am

I thought that in Scotland, people can use their "right to roam" to walk pretty much anywhere, subject to a few rules and being sensible. Why then, is it thought necessary for groups to campaign for "Rights of Way", when they can walk on or off the "Right of Way" anyway. Surely, this situation could lead to some "less enlightened" land owners to say that if a path is a right of way, then the same rights shouldn't apply to land off that path. They could request / demand that walkers "stick to the path". I know that would mean nothing to me or to thousands of other walkers, but it could deter anyone who wasn't aware of the situation in Scotland.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby jmarkb » Wed Sep 01, 2021 10:50 am

Border Reiver wrote:Why then, is it thought necessary for groups to campaign for "Rights of Way", when they can walk on or off the "Right of Way" anyway.


It is explained here: https://www.scotways.com/faq/rights-of-way-law/215-is-there-any-need-for-rights-of-way-now-that-there-is-freedom-of-access
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Border Reiver » Wed Sep 01, 2021 11:06 am

jmarkb wrote:
Border Reiver wrote:Why then, is it thought necessary for groups to campaign for "Rights of Way", when they can walk on or off the "Right of Way" anyway.


It is explained here: https://www.scotways.com/faq/rights-of-way-law/215-is-there-any-need-for-rights-of-way-now-that-there-is-freedom-of-access

Thanks, I guess I have been too focussed on the wild places where I do my walking in Scotland and never considered that there could be problems in Lowland areas.
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby simon-b » Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:08 pm

One piece of walking etiquette that perhaps should be introduced these days. Walkers on a multiple summit route, eg the Ben via CMD, Welsh 3000 footers, etc shouldn't have to wait in 45 minute queues of selfie takers on the popular summits. People who've just arrived from, say, CMD arête or Crib Goch should be allowed to the front to quickly touch the highest point then move on!
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Coop » Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:56 pm

Say "good morning" or "hi" back to someone if they say it to you.
Vice versa
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Re: Walking Etiquette

Postby Caberfeidh » Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:42 pm

He who draws the short straw should quietly submit and accept the fact that he will be killed and devoured by the others.
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