Race the Tide – How to prepare for hiking at night
Race the Tide is a tough 30 hour non-stop hike from Berwick to Lindisfarne island. “Non-stop” is the important word there – it means that we’ll be walking through the night in the depths of the Northumbrian darkness.
So how do you prepare for hiking at night?
- This one is a bit obvious, but bring a torch!
Bring a torch, or a head torch, or ideally both. You’ll also need to bring enough batteries so that they last through the night. Check their battery lifespan beforehand and if in doubt bring a couple of extra batteries. The route will be well-marked with brightly coloured arrows that reflect torch-light at night. There will also be glow-sticks and extra marshals at any sections which could be confusing. You torch is essential though – you won’t get far without it.
- Torch etiquette.
Torch etiquette is really a thing. On a clear night with a bright moon many people can see well enough to walk without a light. If you turn on your torch in somebody’s face this ruins their night vision and for a few minutes, and this can be very frustrating if it happens regularly. Night hiking etiquette requires you to always shine your torch at the ground (not into people’s faces). If you have a headlamp, try to remember that there’s a light on your head, and don’t look people in the face when speaking to them! If walking in a group, it’s wise to agree whether to use lights or not, and to notify other group members before turning a torch on. A loud shout should do it!
- Speaking of groups…. it’s best to stay in one!
If you’re not walking in a group try to plan ahead and make sure that you catch up with other walkers towards the end of the day, so that you have some company at night fall. If you’re walking in a group be aware of this and try to collect any lone walkers towards the end of the day.
- Don’t be scared – small things make big noises!
Often the tiniest creatures can make the loudest sounds, and the terrifying wild animal you fear coming from the bushes could be no more than a rabbit. While it’s important to stay on your guard, try not to panic with every sound.
- Know your route.
This is really important, especially if you’ve never hiked at night before. Take an OS map and study it beforehand, that way you are less likely to be confused by the route or get lost. It’s also a good way to work out where the trickier spots will be.
- Go slower (to avoid trips and falls).
It may sound obvious, but it’s much harder for us to judge our surroundings and distances at night. Take a slower pace when walking at night to avoid trips and falls- it will also give you more time to enjoy the unique experience!
- Eat more
If you’re awake and exercising all night you’ll burn more calories and you need to stay fuelled up! Having the right snacks will make a huge difference, and foods high in carbohydrates will provide instant energy. Try dried fruit, nuts and energy bars to keep energy levels up.
Hiking at night may seem daunting, but with the right preparation and approach it is a really exciting and rewarding experience. Following these tips and you’ll have an adventure like no other!