It is possible to experience sunshine, strong winds and heavy rain all in one day. Get a forecast before setting off, watch out for any changes, if the weather deteriorates, be prepared to alter your route or turn back.

If you plan to walk in the hills remember that the temperature will be lower there, the winds stronger and you are more likely to get rain.

Mist is a serious problem; you can quickly lose all visibility, especially on coastal hills.

What To Do If You Get Lost?

Keep calm – think about where you have walked and the last place you saw a marker post or a definite feature.

• Check if it is possible to retrace your steps.
• If mist is down, descend to get below cloud level.

What To Do In An Emergency?

If lost or injured dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Gardaí/Police and tell them you need Mountain Rescue

Treat any injuries as best you can and keep the casualty warm and comfortable

Navigation Skills

Simple navigation techniques and route finding skills allow you to identify the land around you and to choose a good route avoiding dangers such as cliffs and avalanches. Like many mountaineering skills they are easy to learn, but using them under stress is a different matter.

Learn More 

Skills Videos

Here you will find the first of a series of hillwalking videos to help you refresh your own hillwalking skills or encourage you to learn new skills.

Walking In Winter

If you enjoy hillwalking you will probably want to extend your pastime all year round. But when snow and ice cover the mountains it can be both exhilarating and daunting all in one. True winter conditions in Ireland are often short- lived, but conditions can and do occur when you will need to extend your repertoire of skills to stay safe.

Winter brings shorter days and rapidly changing weather. Plan your day out.

Clothing: Good waterproofs and a layered clothing system are essential. Try to adjust your clothing to avoid overheating whilst moving which will cause clothes to get damp. Have an extra layer for when you stop

Footwear: A good boot is essential in winter. Light fabric boots or trainers offer little protection and greatly increase risk of a slip or fall.

Daylight hours: Plan your route so you finish with daylight to spare. Consider arriving at the start of your route for first light. An early start is much easier than trying to find your way off the mountain when you are tired at the end of the day. Consider an escape route that will allow you to shorten your day if its taking longer than you planned.

Weather: Wind, rain, low cloud, snow, or ice can alter your day considerably, sapping energy and challenging your navigation skills. Good weather forecasts are readily available. Remember wind speed increases and temperature decreases as you go uphill.

Snow and ice: Although true winter conditions are rare and often short lived in Ireland do not underestimate the potential. Wind transported snow that is subject to freeze and thaw can turn into ice requiring ice axe and crampons for safe travel, and occasionally avalanches do occur in Ireland.

Navigation: The ability to navigate is an essential winter skill. If you’re feeling a bit rusty or want to learn new skills look at the training section of our website for a range of courses.

If you wish to venture further afield to walk in the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, or North Wales, learning some new skills can open up a winter wonderland. Read the article from Paul Kellagher (Former President of Mountaineering Ireland)

First Aid Kit

Basic First Aid Kit for All Hikers

"Ouch Pouch"

• Antibacterial wipes

• Compeed/Bandaid
• Antiseptic Cream
• Paracetamol/Aspirin
• Mask/hand sanitiser
• Mobile phone fully charged
• Name, address, and ICE details in waterproof wallet

What to wear on the hills

Wearing the right clothes can be an essential element of staying safe when hiking. The following advice should you some help in knowing what to wear and bring on your next hike:

  • Waterproofs: the key to staying warm is to stay dry, because wet clothing leads to heat loss through evaporation and impaired insulation. No matter the weather when setting out, you should always carry an outer waterproof and windproof layer of jacket and trousers, to repel rain and prevent the wind cooling you down. There is a wide range of options, each with their pros and cons. Breathable fabrics, such as Gore-tex, use a microporous membrane bonded to a face fabric where the pores in the coating are large enough to let water vapour pass through but small enough to keep water droplets out.
  • Layering: wearing many thin layers traps heat far more efficiently than one piece of bulky clothing, and will allow you to regulate your body temperature and reduce perspiration. 
  • Base layer: the layer of clothing next to the skin should be snug and porous, so that it wicks perspiration away from your skin to the mid-layer. Base layer fabrics include polypropylene and Merino wool; avoid cotton because it traps moisture before it hits the jacket, making you cold. 
  • Mid-layer: this should be a thicker synthetic fleece to hold in heat, yet still able to wick moisture away from the body. 
  • Outer layer: on top of this is the insulating layer of a thicker fleece or a lightweight duvet jacket. 
  • Trousers/leggings: for the bottom half something stretchy and quick drying is ideal; jeans become cold and wet very quickly, so should not be worn. If you set off in shorts make sure to have some extra layers in your rucksack. 
  • Gaiters: these work well to keep your feet dry in wet grass, heather or bog. 
  • Hats: these should be carried all year round, warm and well-fitting for the winter, and a sun hat (and sunscreen) for the summer. 
  • Gloves: these are essential and, generally, bulk equals warmth, although you lose dexterity. 

See our Happy Hiking checklist here for a list of what to bring with you on your hikes. 

Which Boots Are Best For Mountain Walking?

A good pair of approach shoes or soft fabric boots are fine for treks on simple tracks, but more rugged terrain requires a sturdier mountain walking boot, especially in poor weather. It must be well constructed, water resistant, have an aggressive tread pattern, a medium level of ankle support and, most importantly, a good resistance of the sole to twisting. Fabric boots are lighter, dry faster and are cheaper, but they often provide little ankle support and have poor lateral stiffness making it difficult to get a good grip on wet, grassy slopes.

A good quality leather pair, looked after with a ‘water proofing’ agent is still the most popular choice with serious mountain walkers, but fabric boots are improving rapidly. Gore-tex boots are great in hot conditions, but not if it’s muddy - then the only boot that is waterproof is a Wellington boot!

Getting A Good Fit

A well-fitting, comfortable boot is due as much to the socks you use as to the model you choose. Socks should be snug, with a smooth knit, good shape, and elasticity, and made of wool or synthetic fibres to draw moisture away. A thin liner and a thicker sock will reduce the chance of blisters. For very wet conditions a Gore-tex sock worn over a thin liner sock will function like a Gore-tex boot. Don’t roll your socks over the ankle of your boots as it makes it easier for grit to get in.

Your feet change shape during the day so try boots on in the afternoon or after exercise. A rough test of fit is to put the boot on un-laced. Push your foot forwards until your toes hit the front; you should then be able to squeeze a finger down the back of the heel. Next lace the boots properly by standing up to weight the foot, but not too tightly over the arch, the foot is very sensitive to pressure. A good fit is one where there is no pressure on your toes, you can wiggle them, there is no side to side movement of the foot and your heel does not lift, if in doubt buy larger. You can create tension in different parts of the boot by tying a knot at any stage in the lacing then continue to the top. Put both boots on and simulate uphill and downhill walking. Wear a loaded rucksack because this will alter the shape of your foot. Finally try male and female versions - you never know!

Breaking Boots In

High performance mountain walking boots are less soft and supple than soft trail boots and may require ‘breaking in’ by doing progressively longer walks. It is very risky to use new boots for a long trek. Orthotic footbeds will help to prevent long-term foot, leg and back problems

Care Of Boots

If your boots get wet, stuff them loosely with newspaper and leave them to dry in a warm, but not hot, place. Apply waterproofing to clean boots a few days before it is needed, to allow it to soak in, but avoid too much treatment as it can soften the leather too much.

Look After Your Feet  

Wash them every day, use moisturiser to keep them soft and a pumice stone to remove any hard skin. Air your feet regularly and use powders or antiperspirant to keep them dry and reduce the chance of blisters. Cut your nails by following the contour of the nail, so that the nail corner is visible. If you cut the nail too short, the nail corner can grow into the skin and end up as a painful in growing toenail.



If your boots fit, you have laced them correctly, you wear good socks and you look after your feet, you should never get blisters. If you feel a hot spot, act immediately. Pop or not pop? Always pop but do it neatly. Use a sterilised needle and pop a couple of holes in the blister, press it flat and apply a small square of gauze to pad it. Tape it down with Duck tape because it sticks and is slippery. Plasters and Zinc Oxide fall off and make a sticky mess at the first moment of perspiration.

Modifying Boots  

Twenty five percent of the bones in your body are in your feet - that’s 26 bones in each foot! How these bones move in relation to each other when walking has a major effect on comfort, balance, posture and long-term foot health. Check how you walk by looking at the soles of an old pair of shoes. If the wear is centralised to the ball of the foot and a small portion of the heel, you have a normal amount of foot movement. If you over-pronate there will be wear patterns along the inside edges, while under-pronation results in wear along the outer edges.

Some pronation is normal in walking as the foot settles on the ground but when this type of movement becomes excessive, it can generate pain. Over-pronation (flat foot) is when there is too much movement of the foot. It causes you to walk on other parts of your foot, and is a common cause of pain at the heel and throughout the lower extremities. Under-pronation (supination) occurs when the foot rolls outwards at the ankle. If under- or over-pronation goes uncorrected, it can also lead to posture and back problems. Orthotic foot beds, volume adjusters and stretching can all make your boot more comfortable and ease painful rub points. Insoles also provide extra insulation.

Lyme Disease/Ticks

People who take part in outdoor pursuits are urged to protect themselves against Lyme disease, which is spread by tick bites. Lyme disease can, in a minority of cases, cause severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease.

cookie preferences
cookie preferences