What's the best thing to do when you get lost walking hills in the UK? Or anywhere you hike and walk! Every hiker has their own method to get themselves out of a sticky situation but what if you're new to hiking? Our personal favourite here at Simply Hike is the S.T.O.P method. It's simple, easy to remember and no matter where you're hiking or walking the S.T.O.P method can be used anywhere.. unless you have had one too many and are trying to get home..it doesn't work then!
When you know you are lost the first thing to do is stop! Take your pack off, sit down maybe even have a bite to eat and relax. You can then gather your thoughts and think about what your next step is, and possibly where you went wrong on your trail.
So you have stopped, sat down and gathered your thoughts. The next move will be to think about where you are, what you did to get yourself lost and think about how to get back to the main trail.
The next move is just to observe. What's around you? What's the weather doing? Can you see any other hikers or walkers on a nearby trail? How much daylight do you have left? If you were to carry on with the route what could you possibly run into good and bad?
Now you have thought about what you want to do, you have observed the weather and your surroundings behind and in front of you, it's now time to plan your route to get back to either a main trail or a safer spot where you might be able to be seen clearer or even set up camp for the night. If you are in a group make sure that everyone has a plan and then go through each plan and see what is best for your group.
Here are a few other key things to always check or do when you are lost:
Check your phone for coverage
Use a whistle to attract someone’s attention
Make sure that you can be seen - wear bright clothing
If you are confident enough, try to retrace your steps
Staying the night
If you end up staying the night, find a shelter that will keep you out of the wind and rain, layer yourself up (you don’t want to be getting cold), try not to sleep by a river due to the noise, and if you can, start a small controlled fire. Smoke is a brilliant sign for help.
Hang brightly coloured items around and above you so you can be seen. You can also do the classic and create a help or S.O.S. sign out of rocks or wood, just make sure it's big for people or helicopters to see.
We hope you don't find yourself lost on your adventures in the great outdoors but just in case you do, hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how to take care of yourself and find your way back if you do ever become lost on a trail. Happy hiking!