I hear a lot of people say that they are fair weather hikers. For them, hiking is a seasonal activity undertaken in the temperate Spring-Summer period when the weather is warm, the paths are dry and the routes are safe. I was a fair weather hiker too, until I started travelling.
I realised that if you wait for the perfect hiking conditions, you’ll never go hiking at all.
With a little encouragement to just lace up my walking boots, get over myself and explore a little bit, I discovered that hiking is great in all seasons. If I hadn’t been hiking in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, I would’ve missed out on so much – not only the natural seasonal differences, but also incredible walks and views in countries that I might not ever return to.
These four seasonal hikes, which we just stumbled onto when travelling, won’t fail to make you want to go exploring.
Snowdon, North Wales
On a short Spring road-trip around North Wales with our Angloville friends, we hiked the toughest path up Snowdon. Supposedly the perfect hiking season, Spring actually resulted in us being unable to see through mist and getting caught in a rain shower strong enough to soak us through to the skin. Fortunately, to us, the misty mountain tops seemed just like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
In Middle Earth, what else is there to do but explore!? Being the ridiculous intrepid explorers that we are, we went off-path on the route back. We ended up on a scree slope. Whilst our friend, Ed, an excellent hill runner, bolted down to the lake at the bottom in a couple of seconds, the rest of us were left scrambling for an hour.
Teapot Mountain, Taiwan
Teapot Mountain: sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland, right? In Taiwan’s Summer heat, you’re almost lightheaded enough to believe it is an hallucinogenic landscape from Lewis Carroll’s world. After pulling yourself up the rocky outcrop with a rope bolted into the mountain side, you can climb inside the teapot and look out over Jinguashi and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re a strong climber, you can haul yourself up a vertical rock face onto the spout and explore further around the rocks.
River Yar, Isle of Wight, England
Hiking along the River Yar is easy walking compared to the other three seasonal hikes! The path heads out past an old mill house and into woodlands, snaking alongside the river for miles. In the Autumn, the woods are coloured with shades of amber and the light rain makes the area smell fresh and earthy.
Mt. Kościelec, Poland
My first ever hike in ice and snow, and I was as scared as a camel in the Arctic. Trekking up Mt. Kościelec in Poland’s High Tatras takes a lot of determination. In Winter, the route is mostly steep icy slopes interspersed with pockets of soft snow that swallow your feet and ankles. However, when you make it above cloud level, mountain peaks jut out through the wispy cumulus like King’s with their stony crowns. There are no tourists to be seen, in fact, there’s no one at all. There’s just the still white landscape.
Growing up in the UK, I grumbled a lot about walks in the rain. I only wanted to walk when it was sunny and I could eat my sandwich on a fallen tree trunk without getting my bum damp. Travelling and hiking around the world has completely changed my perspective on ‘when’ is the best time to hike. Now, I love going on seasonal hikes all year round.