What Are The Best Walking Sticks For Countryside Walks?
Posted by Martin Hewitt on August 31, 2020
Picture by Pict Rider from iStock
It’s time to face facts. Whether we threw ourselves into indulgences like rabid beasts at a banquet or slowly allowed good habits to slack amid months of forgetting what day it was, COVID-19 and its lockdown have wreaked havoc on our lifestyles and bodies. So, it’s becoming increasingly important to balance staying safe with staying active, meaning you might be looking for a walking stick to make walking that little bit easier for you.
While the official guidance is subject to ongoing scrutiny and swift changes, in the UK at least, we are currently allowed to make the most of the great outdoors, despite the current pandemic. One of the best ways to do this is by gearing up for some carefully chosen walks.
Before undertaking any walk, it’s important to gauge the fitness and ability level of everyone in the party. This is particularly crucial now, considering many of us have been so sedentary for such a long time.
Sportswear specialist Sidas has come up with some expert tips for getting active again ‘after lockdown’, and these start with the word ‘Gradual’. We’ve been so used to doing so little for such a long time that over-exerting ourselves can easily result in injury.
So, once the expectations have been set, it’s time to think about where you might want to go.
Ability Superstore is based in Nelson, a Lancashire town near Burnley, blessed by vale after valley of stunning, beautiful countryside. And, a perfect spot for us to engage in an amble is at the National Trust’s property – Gawthorpe Hall. There are plenty of other amazing National Trust gardens that are currently open across the UK. Take a look at the National Trust website for further information.
Driving further puts places like the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland within reach for us. Both areas are packed with treasure trove trails for a whole host of ability levels.
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in Lancashire. However, you can still find inspiration wherever you are by visiting Accessible Countryside, which is packed with information on accessibility and rural pursuits, including maps and routes across the UK.
Once your destination is chosen, deciding what you need to take with you for any and all walks is next on the list. Your tick list should include waterproofs, rucksack, a packed lunch and water, preferably in a reusable drinking container (also a doggy water bowl if your canine friend is accompanying you).
For many people, a walking stick, or other mobility aid, will also be essential, but making the right choice is about more than what a stick looks like.
Judging if specific walking sticks are fit for your needs starts with understanding measurements, and how walking sticks should be set up. Too tall, or too short, and they will not only fail to provide support and be uncomfortable, but they also pose a real risk of causing an injury or strain, including a bad back. To avoid this, always remember the following rule as a general guide; your walking stick is the right height if your elbow is bent between 15 and 30 degrees when holding the handle and standing as upright as possible. For extra help, take a look at our How to Measure and Use A Walking Stick guide.
The most common walking sticks have a single point at the base. But for greater stability, quad or tripod sticks may be a better option.
A happy medium might be the Hurrycane Free Standing Walking Stick, which is aimed at increasing stability with its trio of pads enabling more balance, while also being well-suited to different terrains — from snow to sand, gravel to grass. The pads can be stuck to the ground, too, hence the Free Standing bit in the name. This is helpful when you need to put your stick aside, and don’t want the strain of picking it up off the floor.
Hurrycanes are available in three bright colours and black. Still, for some, when it comes to style, the only option will likely be these Retro Pattern Folding Adjustable Walking Sticks, or our Deluxe Folding Patterned Walking Canes. Respectively offering a kaleidoscope of bubbles, swirls and circles, and a more sophisticated red-blue check, both provide more than enough support and are ideal for leisurely walks.
Of course, if you are going on a long hike, then a proper hiking stick may be the best option. These tend to be longer in style, and you walk with them in a slightly different style to a standard walking stick.
It’s worth considering how easy it is for walking sticks to go out of sight too, at dusk or if you’re thinking of turning some walks into nights camping out under the stars. Folding sticks with a Glow Grip handle are unique in that, as the name implies, the handles glow in the dark, so they will stand out under any blanket of darkness.
Ultimately, the worst decision you can make is a rushed one — choosing a walking stick is a decision you should take seriously, and that means doing some research into the best choices.
There are a lot of options out there. Get it wrong, and it will be a waste of money and might even negatively impact your movement. Get it right, and walking sticks can be life-changing, whether helping you to realise the series of walks you’ve been planning, or aiding mobility in everyday life.
Watch out for a future news article all about the different styles of walking stick accessories available and also another based on the different styles of handle available on a walking stick.