All our walks are on mountain terrain and involve climbing mountains of 700 metres (2300 feet) or more in height, over a distance of 10 kilometres. A good level of fitness is required as none of our walks can be regarded as suitable for beginners to hill walking.
If you have climbed a mountain in the recent past, you should be fit enough for our ‘C’ Group.
Please note that there is a significant difference between the effort required for road walking and climbing mountains. If you would like to take part but feel you may not be fit enough or have never climbed a mountain before, then please view the Fitness Programme below.
If you have any doubts or concerns about your fitness to climb mountains, please seek professional medical advice before coming on a Wee Binnian walk.
The best preparation for hillwalking is to get out on low level hills and build up the stamina required. Try walking uphill on forest trails near your home e.g. Clochmor from Kilbroney Park Lower Car Park; Ballymakellet Wood to top of forest from Lumpers; Cave Hill from Belfast Castle Car Park etc.
Prepared for The Wee Binnian Walkers by Veronica McCann, Club President and Alan Morrison, Principal Recreation Officer, Craigavon Borough Council.
Walking for exercise is the safest way to get fit and keep you fit. The rules of safe exercise are very simple and if followed the likelihood of doing yourself harm is remote. You start off slowly and gradually build up the body’s ability to respond to the increased physical demand. You need to feel that you are raising your pulse and respiration rates by your exercise effort but never to the point where you experience breathlessness or excessive discomfort.
For the more scientifically minded there is a formula which can be used to work out roughly the pulse rate that you should be trying to achieve in order to get the maximum benefit from an exercise session:
220 minus your age in years divided by 3 multiplied by 2 will give you this target pulse rate. Keeping your pulse at this level ensures that you are exercising safely.
The fitness levels achieved through walking however are in direct relation to the duration and intensity of your walking regime. If you only want to achieve a reasonable standard of fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle this can be done by building up gradually to 20 minutes brisk walking on flat ground 3 to 4 days a week. If on the other hand your goal is to become a hill walker your training requirements will be much more demanding as the stamina requirements are so much greater. As well as meeting the demands of a possible 600 metre ascent you also have to be able to negotiate a variety of terrains.
The 12 week exercise programme that follows is designed to raise your fitness from it’s present level to that required for hill walking. The programme starts from a very basic level so depending on your existing level of fitness you can assess the entry level most appropriate for you.
It is worth mentioning here that if you have any medical condition or are very overweight it would be a good idea to get your doctor to approve your plans.
Fitness for Hill Walking
This programme is designed to take fit flat walkers up to the standard required for hill walking at Level 3 i.e. 8- 10 km with a height gain of 600 metres or greater in 4 to 5 hours.
3 Walks of 20 minutes on flat ground
3 Walks of 20 – 30 minutes on flat ground. Start to think about how fast you are walking and what is the right training pace for you, brisk but still within your comfort zone.
2 Walks of 35 – 40 minutes on flat ground
2 Walks of 20 minutes and 1 of 40 minutes on flat ground, Now is the time to start picking the pace up a bit. Swing your arms as you walk and get a bit of rhythm going
2 Walks of 30 minutes on flat ground and 1 of 30 minutes which includes uphill slopes
1 Walk of 30 minutes on flat ground and 2 of 30 minutes that includes uphill slopes
1 Walk of 40 minutes on flat ground and 2 of 30 minutes that includes uphill slopes
Treat yourself – go somewhere pleasant like a beach or forest park and have 2 good 1 hour walks and 1 walk of 20 minutes on flat ground.
You should be feeling a lot fitter by now and have a good idea where you like to walk and the pace you can walk over different types of ground. Walk at least 4 times a week for 40 minutes making sure there are plenty of up and down slopes.
1 Walk of at least 2 hours incorporating rough ground as well as 2 other short walks.
4 Walks of 1 hour on hilly ground. Make sure that you are keeping your effort levels up. A bit of breathlessness without distress is Ok at this stage.
Take 3 of your longest most challenging walks and ENJOY
You can now go to the hills with confidence knowing that you are able to meet the stamina challenge that hill walking presents and that the fitter you are the more enjoyable the experience will be.
How can physical activity improve my health?
Hill walking is a great pastime and as well as meeting new people and forging new friendships it’s also a very good way to improve your own mental and physical health.
There are enormous benefits to be gained from this simple exercise. Studies for example have shown that it reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease or of developing high blood pressure. It also protects against the risk of bowel cancer or adult onset diabetes.
As well as this regular exercise is good for our mental health by improving our mood, preventing depression and feelings of anxiety and increasing our general well-being. It leads to better sleep patterns and even looking better.
Hill walking & health benefits
By getting involved as well in regular hill walking there are a number of specific additional benefits such as:
- Improved muscle tone.
- Less risk of back pain
- Reduced risk of arthritis
- Better digestion
- Improved circulation
- Stronger respiratory system
- Enhanced posture
Finally, hill walking especially with the Wee Binnians, is very sociable and really good fun. So we would encourage anyone to give it a go.
We would also encourage all hill walkers to keep the sociability aspect and to say hello to other hill walkers you meet out. Ireland is one of the friendliest countries to be in, next to Australia, and we don’t want to lose that. Who knows what you might get out of it! See you on the hills.