(And Why Rockhounds Stop in Winter)
We have been a little lax in blog upkeep recently but we’ve been going through some changes. You should be seeing the German pages added early in 2022, where we are expanding to offer German self-collected minerals, too.
We have been out a few times throughout winter, but we are taking it easy for multiple reasons. Here’s some of the considerations you should make before you decide to go rockhounding in the UK in winter…
Winter Rockhounding: A Bad Idea?
The thing about rockhounding in the winter in Scotland, is that everything is cold, frozen, slushy, or wet. There’s no nice happy medium. The days when you do get a dry, sunny afternoon, that afternoon is approximately 4 hours long. You need to plan ahead if you want to hunt.
We have been out every fortnight because we need videos for TikTok and Instagram photos! But genuinely, we are addicted to the serotonin and we do go out all year long. Recently, our Scottish contingent went over on her ankle and is out the game for the time being. Up until the horrendous dog-walking accident (rocks were not involved), she was still out collecting in the freezing temperatures.
Winter rockhounding is a different ballgame. It is colder and therefore more dangerous. Going out into rivers and burns is a no-go. Mountains and hills are only available on pleasant days. Frost will make you fall and it will solidify those rocks better than a cementation. One of our last trips was up in the mountains, the final trip there for the winter. The snow in the collecting area meant we couldn’t see the rocks, but also that they were frozen to the ground. At times like this, it’s better to admit defeat and go home than to push through with tools.
So if you can brave the cold and you really, really, really want to go out there, how do you rockhound in winter safely?
Being Safe on Winter Rockhounding Trips
When you are out in the winter, now is more important than ever to tell people where you are going and when you will be back. Take a phone with a charge in it and consider buying a solar charger for emergencies.
You should keep a first aid kit, preferably on you but if not then in your car. Carry antiseptic. Bring plenty of water: you will need it to wash dirt off rocks and to drink, so bring more than you think you will need.
Be sure your car is winter ready.
Try not to go out of mobile phone signal range.
If hiking a hill or mountain, check the weather report before you go. Check sunset time and a cut off point. If the sun sets at 4 and you have a 2 hour climb, make sure the latest you turn back is 2pm. If you pass climbers in the dark on the way back down it is customary to remind them of the time. The pros will ignore you but appreciate it and the noobs could use the warning.
If you want to be extra safe, download the what 3 words app. This assigns every location in the world a three word tag that lets emergency services find you faster. We’re not partners or anything, we just think it’s a great idea.
Last but not least, if out in the winter, take dry clothes and shoes. If you can, take someone with you, too. If you can’t, just let them know when you will be back. It’s better to have someone worried enough to call you than to be stuck in a ditch on a mountain when nobody knows where you are.
And take your gloves. It’s gie cauld oot there.