Here at Hillwalk Tours, we love to help people to get outdoors and get hiking. We’re avid hikers ourselves and regularly hit the hills. We’re also strong believers in the Leave No Trace principles and encourage our walkers to practice this outdoor code of ethics. There are seven Leave No Trace principles, which we like to condense into one handy phrase:
Take only memories, leave only footprints
Take a look below at the seven Leave No Trace principles and try to keep them in mind next time you’re out on the trail!
Plan And Prepare
It’s important to know the restrictions of the area that you will be hiking in. Perhaps dogs aren’t allowed on particular sections, or some landowners may not like people walking across their land.
Try splitting into smaller groups of hikers where possible and always know how to use a map and compass in order to avoid having to physically mark your surroundings.
Travel And Camp On Durable Surfaces
Use existing campsite and trails to minimise the damage caused to the environment. Many trails are maintained by an authority in order for people to use and to lessen the impact on the ground below.
Where the trail is narrow, try to walk in single file rather than off the trail in groups of two or three.
Dispose Of Waste Properly
Always bring a rubbish bag with you so that you can clean up after your snacks and lunch break. If you forget your rubbish bag, throw any leftover waste/wrappers into your bag and dispose of them either at home or when you come across a bin.
Leave What You Find
Never take anything from the environment around you. Preserve the history of an area by admiring historic structures, but never taking anything from them such as stones or rocks.
They may seem like nice mementos, but the memories you take will be better for the area. Avoid touching taking plants as they may be non-native species, meaning you could be spreading unwanted guests.
Minimise Campfire Impacts
Keep campfires small and try to use small lights and flames where possible. A cooking stove is more welcomed than campfires in places, as are small candles or flashlights. In places where campfires are permitted, make sure your fire is contained and safe while ensuring the fire is completely extinguished when you leave it.
Respect the wildlife of an area but not disturbing potential nesting zones. In certain countries, hedge cutting is not allowed between certain months of the year to allow birds to nest.
Never touch an animal den or bird nest as the scent of a foreign animal can deter the inhabitant from returning to care for their young.
Be Considerate Of Others
Respect for other hikers is very important on the trail, as we’re all there to enjoy nature and have fun. Avoid loud voices or music while hiking and allow other hikers to enjoy nature’s ambience. Leave enough room on the trail for people going both ways, as well as letting people to overtake you if they’re walking faster.
If you’re interested in trying out these Leave No Trace Principles, check out our selection of self-guided hiking tours in Ireland, the UK or on the Camino de Santiago.