Outdoor Etiquette: Hiking Chit-Chat

17 May 2013

I know we all go on The Fells to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, nevertheless, when you’re walking, I think it’s essential that you talk to your fellow hikers. I’m not saying swap emails and get out your wedding photos, I’m saying you should always acknowledge someone if you’re walking right passed them.

Even Wainwright, who as we all know could be a bit of a misery guts, offered a ‘Hello’ when he passed you. If he can do it we all can.
text Here’s some guidelines for hiking chit-chat.

When you meet a single hiker, a simple nod, or a smile or a ‘’ow-doo, my single hiking friend’ is sufficient. Don’t overdo it. If the single hiker is a man in a flat cap wearing hiking gear made from wool, I always give him an ‘Alreeet, marra’ followed by ‘it’s fair hoyin it doon, eh?’ because I know he’s a local and the chances are it’ll be raining. Be careful with this because the phrase has to be said in a Cumbrian accent or it sounds like you’re taking the wee out of him.

When you pass a hiking couple, I tend to opt for a more upbeat ‘Hiya’ followed by an appropriate weather related comment ‘enjoying the delightful stratocumulus’ something like that.
If you’re going uphill it’s always good to add your favourite ‘my legs are killing me’ expression or some sort of ‘phew’ noise, it helps with bonding.

Large groups are difficult, I prefer to say a loudish hello to the first person in the group and then smile and nod like a fool as I work my way down. If there’s a significant break in the group I have to repeat the process for the slow coaches behind.

For kids, I like Cragman’s suggestion on LivefortheOutdoors, if you’re on the way down always say: ‘There’s an ice cream van at the top.’

When you meet at a viewpoint, choose one of these superlatives: amazing, marvellous, stupendous, and gaze into the void with an enraptured expression. Don’t be tempted to outstretch your arms in a ‘I’m the king of the world’ type of way, this only works on photos and looks pretty silly when you’re with others.

If someone is listening to an ipod whilst walking, try this:
The important thing is to be friendly. No one wants to hear a detailed narrative on how this walk compares to your summit of the Eiger in 1957 but everyone likes a cheery hello and a smile. So if you’re one of those people who stare blankly ahead as you squeeze passed your fellow hiker on a narrow track, come on, stick to the guidelines outlined here.

One more thing, if you meet someone wearing high heels or unlaced oversized baseball boots and jeans, forget everything I’ve said and completely blank them.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

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