> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hiking Checklists > Do’s and don’ts for walkers
POSTED BY February 28, 2022

Hikers form a close-knit community. After all, we all have a strong love for nature and for outdoor exercise. Many novice hikers are not fully aware of the do’s and don’ts for walkers, unwritten rules and etiquette that apply within this community.

Appreciate nature and the company of other hikers even more by reading up on the most important rules on and around the hiking trail. How do you ensure that your impact on the natural environment is limited? Who has right of way on a narrow footpath? We list all hiking tips in our do’s and don’ts for walkers!

1. How do you interact with other hikers?

It may sometimes feel like we are the only one on the entire trail, but of course we share this environment with others. Most walkers greet each other when they meet others. It’s all about acknowledgment – a simple “hello” or a friendly nod is enough. When walking the Camino, the common greeting is “Buen Camino”.

Above Lochen Breclaich, Rob Roy Way, Hillwalk Tours
Above Lochen Breclaich, Rob Roy Way

When you stop to admire a view or take a break, make sure to get off the trail. If you are walking with a group, walk in a row one after the other. One of the biggest frustrations for a hiker is when someone blocks the path.

2. How do you deal with wildlife?

It is of course great to see a squirrel jump from tree to tree, or come face to face with a deer. To maintain these experiences as much as possible, it is important that hikers interact with wild animals as little as possible.

The dos and don’ts regarding wildlife are pretty self-explanatory. Feeding is of course out of the question, but also try not to run after animals for a photo. Leave the animals alone as much as possible – after all, you are visiting their “home”.

3. Who has right of way in nature?

Initially, the same rules apply to hikers in nature as in traffic. Horse riders always have right of way, so pull aside to let them pass. Cyclists should technically give way to walkers, but in reality it is often much easier for walkers to step aside. So here it depends a bit on the situation.

Dingle Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Views from Masatiompan, Dingle Way

What about priority for walkers among themselves? One rule is that you walk on the right side of the path. If you plan to overtake someone, do this on their left side. It is neat to announce that you are coming by saying “pardon”. Some walkers say “from the left” to indicate that they will pass on someone’s left.

In general, the person who walks uphill has right of way. After all, walking uphill is harder, so it is much appreciated if you can just keep walking during this ordeal.

While these are the unwritten rules among walkers, there can of course always be exceptions. Analyze the situation and the other walkers to determine what makes the most sense.

4. Walking Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

We like to walk in nature. It is important to ensure that our impact on the environment is limited so that hikers can enjoy the same view after us. Simply put, the rule applies: when you leave, make sure that nature looks the same as when you arrived or simply put “leave no trace“.

What does this mean in reality? Of course, do not leave any waste behind. Do not take home stones, flowers or other “souvenirs”. Don’t carve your name on a tree. All pretty self-evident.

do's and don'ts for hikers hiking tips hiking etiquette silence

However, noise can also be a form of pollution. Whoever walks through a forest talking and laughing loudly, for example, ruins the peace and quiet of other walkers, who can no longer hear the sound of the birds. The same goes for cell phones that suddenly start ringing. Keep the volume down.

Ultimately, the point is that as many people as possible can enjoy walking through nature. So that applies to you, but also to those who tread the path after you.

Have you learned anything from these do’s and don’ts for walkers? Or do you have important hiking tips or do’s and don’ts that we have forgotten in this article? Are you considering a hiking holiday? Hillwalk Tours provide self-guided walking tours in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and along the Camino Frances. If you have questions please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.