Take safety seriously and always be prepared
when self-guided walking in Spain by adding maps, compass, fully-charged mobile phone, GPS, first-aid kit, fire lighting equipment, waterproofs, torch and whistle to your backpack. Spain may seem like one of the safest, easiest travel destinations – but when it comes to extreme weather (heat, snow and storms) as well as high altitude – it’s a much further cry from the UK than you might think.
If walking without a guide or group, always tell someone where you're going and when you estimate coming back
. Keep emergency numbers safe and find out what the local rescue procedure involves prior to setting off. The emergency number in Spain is 112.
Storms can occur at any time so find out what to do in the event of flash flooding or lightning
, especially if you're walking in the mountains. Best advice if there is lightning is to stay below the tree line, avoid isolation and get as low as possible.
Make sure you check local weather forecasts before setting off
and ensure you know what to do if things turn bad whilst you're out walking. Have back up plans if things look a bit bleak and don't be afraid to cancel a walk if conditions are too unstable.
Avoid walking in Spain during the middle of the day or at the height of summer
– though even in the morning and late afternoon you'll still need to stay hydrated and cover up to protect yourself from heat stroke or burning. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF, even on overcast days, and walk in shade wherever possible.
Walk with an experienced guide if possible or be extra diligent with every aspect of your safety if you're considering walking in high mountain areas. Be aware that due to the increasing number of climbers and skiers who get into difficulties due to negligence, Catalonia has begun to bill those who do not take adequate precautions and require rescuing.
Forest fires are common in summer months. Be extra cautious when using cigarettes and glass bottles, and never leave them behind. Causing a fire is a criminal offence even if unintentional.
Preparation is crucial for a successful walking vacation in Spain and don't even think about foregoing protective clothing and sensible walking shoes in favour of something more fashionable.
Learning basic first aid could make all the difference to the safety of you and your walking companions so learn CPR and what to do in the event of an emergency as well as packing a fully-functional first-aid kit. Find out what to put in a first aid kit
Call the London-based Spanish National Tourist Office for safety and weather warnings on 020 7486 8077.
If heading to the mountains for skiing, consult the European Avalanche Warning Services
. For further information on health and safety in Spain, please visit the FCO