This page is aimed at visitors to Britain or newcomers to the outdoors. It aims to give some guidance about the different areas Britain; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and about some of the outdoor and environmental organisations around the country. If you are on an outdoors holiday then some of this information may be provided for you, but if you are coming as an independent traveller then this page will hopefully provide some useful information.
- In Britain walking and mountaineering groups include the Ramblers, Ramblers Scotland, Ramblers Cymru (Wales), the UFRC in Northern Ireland, the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA), the Backpackers Club, the British Mountaineering Council in England and Wales, Mountaineering Scotland in Scotland and Mountain Training in Northern Ireland. These organisations variously offer information, guided walks, routes, resources, training, member discounts, a campaigning voice and social opportunities.
- Useful information regarding Scotland can be found at Walkhighlands while information regarding Northern Ireland may be found at WalkNI.
- The Emergency services number for Britain is 999 and this includes Rescue and Coastguard calls. You can register your mobile for texts to 999. Send the word ‘register’ in a text to 999 and you will then receive a message about the service. Read this message and reply by sending ‘yes’. You should then receive a message telling you that your mobile phone is registered.
- The English language is spoken and understood throughout Britain, but Welsh, Scots and Irish Gaelic are spoken in parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In these countries signs may show Welsh or Gaelic translations.
- If you are willing to join The Ramblers, the Ramblers Routes website is a database of day routes which should all have been tried and tested to avoid major hazards, while the Viewranger website enables you to search for routes which may not have been checked for safety.
- To report an access or path problem in England, Wales and trialling in Scotland check this page for details of the Rambler’s Pathwatch app and online reporting form. Alternatively you should contact the local council paths or access officer.
- The Youth Hostel Association (England and Wales), the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (Scotland) and Hostelling International NI (Northern Ireland) offer budget accommodation in popular outdoor areas of Britain. You can read more about British hostels in my page about hostelling
- Britain has an extensive network of long distance hiking trails. The Long Distance Walkers Association website details most of them. If you join the LDWA you can also download GPX files for most British trails.
- Some long distance trails have been designated as National Trails in England and Wales. Information about them can be found here. Information about Scotland’s Great Trails can be found here .
- There are currently some 15 National Parks in Britain working together as National Parks UK with 10 parks in England, 3 in Wales and 2 in Scotland. There are ongoing campaigns to add a Mourne Mountains Park in Northern Ireland, a Glasgow City National Park and a Greater London National Park. (Cont).
- In spite of having officially converted to kilometres in Britain, information and signage is often shown in miles. A mile is about 1.6km.
- In Britain there are rules known as codes for countryside users and land managers with guidance for and about walking. They vary in different parts of the country; you can find the Countryside Code for England and Wales here, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code here and the Northern Ireland Countryside Code here.
- Maps of Britain are available in scales of 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 from Ordnance Survey and 1:40,000 from Harvey Maps.
- The main navigation apps that I am aware of which cover Britain are OSMapfinder, Viewranger and Routebuddy.
- Mobile phone coverage in the countryside varies a lot between network providers in Britain. There is an OFCOM app which claims to show 3G, 4G and voice call coverage for the 4 major networks in Britain.
- The British Mountaineering Council, Mountaineering Scotland and Mountain Training NI are good starting points for people wanting advice or training in outdoor pursuits, skills and safety.
- It is worth looking out for accommodation displaying the Walkers are Welcome logo as they should be more accustomed to dealing with issues which affect walkers.
- Environmental organisations in Britain include Friends of the Earth UK, The John Muir Trust, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the National Trust, the National Trust for Wales, the National Trust for Scotland, the National Trust NI, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the World Wildlife Fund UK.
I have tried to ensure that all the above links work so let me know if any of them don’t. Also if you have any suggestions about helpful organisations I have forgotten, let me know. Below is my YouTube playlist of a few places to visit if you are visiting the north of England or Scotland:
If you are new to walking, or you decide to travel to Britain to do some walking, happy hiking.