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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Try night hiking

Add an adventurous twist to a classic activity by heading out after dark. How will you navigate without the sunlight?

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What to expect

Two things make a night hike. Firstly, covering a distance by walking. Secondly, doing at least part of the hike at night, without sunlight to aid visibility. Beyond that, the details are up to you.

Some people might set off in daylight and walk into the night, while others might set off late at night and walk into the sunrise. You can do whatever works best – it might depend on the time of year.

It’s up to you to plan a route, so you can set the scale and level of challenge. Why not keep things interesting by adding challenges and tasks for everyone to enjoy along the way?

What you’ll learn

Night hiking puts people’s navigation skills and compass work to the test as they find their way without visual cues and landmarks. It makes navigating in the daylight feel easy in comparison, and helps prepare people to find their way when there’s low visibility (for example, when it’s foggy).

Fun facts

If the sky’s clear, you may be able to see the universe. If you’re really lucky, you might spot the International Space Station, shooting stars, or even other planets. If you search online before your adventure, you’ll know when to look out for anything special.

Handy hints

  • Everything’s better with snacks. Tasty food will keep you going and boost morale, so don’t scrimp on snacks. You’ll probably want a mix of carbs, protein, and snacks – and some of your favourite fun foods too.
  • Don’t get cold. Once the sun goes down the temperature drops quickly, so plenty of warm layers are a must-have. Hiking is less fun for everyone if someone’s cold (and grumpy). 
  • See and be seen. High-visibility pieces (such as clothing and wearable strips) keep everyone safe, so it’s worth taking a few spares. Spare torches (and batteries) are a good idea too, but remind everyone not to shine their torches in people’s eyes.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
Hill walking:
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
    • Mountain Training - Walking Group Leader (WGL)
    • Mountain Training - Mountain Leader (ML)
    • Adventure Mark - centre
  • The provider must have public liability insurance.


Activity Permit Scheme


Terrain Zero Activities


Night hiking gives people the chance to value the outdoors. How did people connect with nature on their night hike? People might think about how they used their senses differently – they couldn’t see much, so how did their hearing or smell come into play? How was the outdoors different at night? People might think about how they heard different wildlife, or even how it smelled different. Did anyone enjoy looking at the night sky?

Night hiking also needed people to keep going, even if it got tricky. How did people find navigating in the dark? Some people may have found it an exciting challenge, while others may have found it frustrating to navigate without things they’d usually use to help. How did hiking at night affect people’s morale? Did it make it any easier (or harder) to push on and reach the destination? Did the group have any challenges or setbacks along the way? 

  • Plan your route carefully to make sure it’s suitable for everyone. If you’re not sure about something, visit in daylight to check the terrain before your night hike.
  • Chat to anyone who’s likely to find hiking at night difficult. Would it help to be in a pair with someone, to have equipment like a head torch, or to be near the front of the group to set the pace?
  • Make a plan with anyone who’s uncomfortable with (or scared of) the dark. Could they carry a big torch (and spare batteries) or stick with a friend or adult?
  • Make sure whoever’s leading the hike is aware of the needs of the people in your group – and give them plenty of notice.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If anyone really enjoyed the night hike, they might want to consider entering a competitive hike. They’re held across the UK, and different hikes have different objectives and levels of challenge.