Enjoying the outdoors is fun and exciting, however darkness will bring new challenges that you may not have faced in the day. Fortune favours the prepared! So that the adventure can be enjoyed to the full, take time to read the following and consider what planning needs to be done to ensure that the adventure or activity is as safe as it can be. This safety advice applies to all adventures or activities in the dark where participants will be outdoors and exposed to the elements, but take additional care if on cliffs, coast, mountains or hills.
Note parts of the route that have sudden drops or that are steep or exposed. Choose a route that suits the fitness level of everybody in your group. If on a mountain or hill, reaching the summit is only half the battle so be vigilant as you descend. Tiredness can set in and bring increased risk of slips, trips and falls. If tired take a break, warm up, have something to eat and drink.
If you see others ahead don’t be tempted to follow them as they may be taking a much more challenging and dangerous route than you.
Trainers and sandals are not suitable for mountain walking, or for walking on the more rugged sections of footpaths.
Take a waterproof and windproof jacket and over trousers. In wintry conditions you’ll need to take extra clothing such as a thermal base layer, fleece jacket, gloves and a hat. Even in the summer, take a hat and gloves and clothes that you can put on in layers as it will get cold in the night. Feet can get especially cold so have thick socks. If out on the roads, wear a high visibility jacket. Consider taking a walking pole or two to help you with your balance on uneven or slippery surfaces.
It’s important to maintain your energy levels, as walking can be hard work and tiredness and fatigue in the dark heightens the risks of getting lost, or having an accident.
They are an essential piece of kit. Make sure you pack an extra layer of clothing as temperatures can plummet high up in the peaks and by the coast. It’s vital to carry a torch, whistle, first aid kit and mobile phone, but remember – you’re not guaranteed a signal in remote places so don’t rely on your phone if you get into difficulty.Check the weather forecast before you set out
If the weather deteriorates, turn back. Conditions at night, especially on mountains can change quickly with fierce winds, low clouds and freezing temperatures making visibility and walking impossible.
Night time weather conditions can change suddenly, and temperatures can plummet especially on those superb star gazing nights when there is little or no cloud cover. Risks caused by cold, wet and slippery surfaces caused by dew, rain or ice will be intensified in the dark, increasing the likelihood of losing your footing , misjudging distances and equipment may be more difficult to operate.
It is in your interest to find out the weather conditions before venturing out. A change in the weather could ruin your plans and could also be very dangerous. The Met Office runs a 24 hour online weather forecast service providing the latest details on ground conditions, visibility, wind speed, wind direction and temperatures throughout the UK.
www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast and you can find a specialist mountain forecast here www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/mountain-forecasts/#?tab=mountainHome
Including which route you’re taking and what time you expect to return, so they can raise the alarm if you don’t make it back by your given time. Remember to let them know if your plans change at all.
If you are going to have an adventure by the sea on or a river estuary remember to check the tide times. It can be easy to misjudge distances in the dark and tides can come in quick. Information can be found here:
Fire, Police, Ambulance, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue: Dial 999 and ask for the appropriate service.