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In Britainmarker, the term hillwalking or fellwalking is normally used to describe the recreational practice of walking in hilly or mountainous terrain, generally with the intention of visiting the tops of hills and mountains.

The term hillwalking is used to describe activities which might be referred to as hiking, backpacking or mountaineering elsewhere, with the term hills being understood generally to include mountains, as these are referred to specifically using the term "mountaineering" only in specific circumstances[59688].

Fellwalking is particularly used to refer to hill or mountain walks in the Lake Districtmarker and Yorkshire Dalesmarker in Northern England as fell is the preferred term for both features in those parts of England.


Britainmarker offers a wide variety of ascents, from gentle rolling lowland hills to some very exposed routes in the moorlands and mountains. The term climbing is used for the activity of tackling the more technically difficult ways of getting up hills involving rock climbing while "hillwalking" refers to the easier routes.

Some summits require climbing skills, and many hillwalkers will become proficient in scrambling. In Britain, the term "mountaineering" tends to be reserved for expeditions abroad to ranges such as the Alps, or for serious domestic hillwalking, typically in winter, with additional equipment such as ice axe and crampons, or for routes requiring rock climbing skills such as the traverse of the Cuillinmarker ridge. The British Mountaineering Council provides more information on this topic.[59689]

In Britain, popular locations for hillwalking include the Lake Districtmarker, the Peak Districtmarker, the Yorkshire Dalesmarker, Snowdoniamarker, the Quantock Hillsmarker & Exmoormarker, the Brecon Beaconsmarker & Black Mountainsmarker, Dartmoormarker and the Scottish Highlands, including the Cairngormsmarker, the largest National Park. The mountains in Britain are modest in height, with Ben Nevismarker at 4409 feet (1344 metres) forming the highest peak, but the unpredictably wide range of weather conditions and often difficult terrain can make walking in many areas challenging.

Peak bagging provides a focus for the activities of many hillwalkers. Among the many lists compiled for this purpose, the Munros – mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet (914.4 m) – remains one of the most popular [59690].

The Ramblers Association and the British Mountaineering Council promote the interests of hillwalkers in the UK and provide information for their members and others.

Microsites which champion the cause of hillwalking or fellwalking include The Online Fellwalking Club.


In Englandmarker and Walesmarker, access has in the past been confined to public rights of way, but currently wider areas have been opened up to public access by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. In Scotlandmarker the traditional presumption is of a right of access to the countryside - provided no damage is done to crops, livestock and hunting activities including deer stalking. These rights and obligations are now codified in the Land Reform Act 2003. In Irelandmarker the issue of access has become increasingly contentious in recent years due to a reluctance to introduce effective legislation. Many landowners in the west of Ireland are openly hostile to walkers.

Navigation and map-reading skills are essential, as conditions of poor visibility can arise unexpectedly at any time due to the variability of British weather and the risk of rain, low cloud, fog or the onset of darkness. In some areas it is common for there to be no waymarked path to follow. It is unwise to venture out into the hills without navigation skills, an Ordnance Surveymarker map or walk guidebook, and a compass. In most areas proper walking-boots are essential, and hillwalkers should always have good weatherproof clothing, including spare warm clothes and in mountainous areas a survival bag in case an accident forces a prolonged, and possibly overnight, halt. Food and water should also be carried, along with an emergency whistle, torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) and first aid kit. A fully charged mobile phone is useful (where reception permits) and walkers should let someone know their route and estimated time of return or arrival ("ETA").

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