Hike, walk, ramble - hiking, walking, rambling

Discussion in 'English Only' started by piotr1980, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. piotr1980 Senior Member


    Does ''to hike'' mean the same as ''to walk''?

    I go on vacation next week in mountains where I will spend most of my time on walking ( or on hiking?)

    When do we use the verb ''to hike'' and when '' to walk''?

    Many thanks
  2. mrbilal87

    mrbilal87 Senior Member

    English (NAmE)
    Hi piotr,

    Both are correct in this context, just make sure you eliminate the word "on" there.

    There isn't much of a difference between hiking and walking, except hiking gives the impression of a more rigorous walk usually conducted in wilderness areas or large parks.

  3. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Right. I might go for a "walk" around my neighbourhood after dinner on a warm summer evening but it wouldn't be a "hike". If I were to wear hiking boots, take a backpack and head to the hills, I'm going on a hike.
  4. jbs_australia Member

    Oxford, United Kingdom
    Australia, English
    That's perfectly correct!
  5. piotr1980 Senior Member

    So, can we say :

    During my next week vacation i will be hiking in the mountain ( or on the mountain)
  6. paulio Senior Member

    UK, English
    yes, in the mountains
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would be walking (or hiking) in the mountains.

    I like Dimcl's explanation of the difference.
    At one extreme, a half-hour walk is walking: at the other, a three-day expedition sleeping under the stars is hiking.

    But in between the extremes, it's almost as if the difference between hiking and walking is about how you prepare for the expedition rather than what you do. Or perhaps it's about what you are used to?

    When a regular walker sets out for a day in the mountains, wearing boots, carrying a backpack complete with food, spare clothes, first aid kit, whistle, map and compass he'll say he is going for a walk in the Mournes.
    His companion that day, who is a regular wilderness backpacker, sets out with the same equipment. But he is going for a hike in the Mournes.
  8. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    I think I'd expect fairly level ground to be a component of "a walk." I can't imagine going for "a walk in the mountains"; if it's mountainous, I would say "hike." For me, it has to do with the amount of effort expended and the terrain as well as the way you prepare for it.

    I'd take my 87-year-old mother for a walk, but I'd never take her for a hike. In fact, she might consider anything other than a short walk a "hike."

    There are some beatiful, wide, well-maintained trails in Yosemite National Park. You can simply get out of your car and "walk up" to incredible waterfalls. No special equipment or supplies are needed. It's a climb of about 2,000 feet from the bottom of the trail to the top, though, on some of these trails. I would say "I hiked up to the waterfall", even if I was in my street clothes, instead of "I walked up to the waterfall", if I rose 2,000 feet in 2 miles. "I walked up" would give me the impression that I was on fairly level ground between my starting point and the waterfall.
  9. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    I suspect you have hit on a difference between American and European English. I love walking and use the same verb whether I am going round the park with the dog in the morning or planning a trip across the central Pyrenees.

    If I was walking in the mountains be they the Alps, Snowdonia or the Tatras and I end up having to drop to all fours I would still call this walking and scrambling rather than hiking. Scrambling means you can no longer walk upright because the terrain is so steep that you have to use your hands to make progress.

    To my ears hiking sounds a tad old fashioned, possibly because of its association with hitch hiking which seems to have practically disappeared.
  10. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    Yes, hiking really refers to walking in the countryside or wilderness probably with boots, compass, backpack, waterproofs and maybe a tent, whereas walking is a more general term.
    It is possible to substitute the word "walking" for "hiking" but it's not possible to substitute "hiking" for "walking". "I'm going walking in the mountains" is fine but "I'm going for a hike around the block" is nonsense.
    If you find the term "hiking" a little old-fashioned you can use the more modern term "trekking". I disagree with Cirrus about the term hitch-hiking, I haven't lived in England for about a year but the term was still widely used when I was there. << Off topic question deleted. >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2009
  11. Hese Senior Member

    Hello there,

    I've just come across two expressions "to go rambling" and "to go hiking" which are - according to my dictionary - synonyms.

    What I want to express is the fact that I like walking around in the mountains but not in an athletic way.

    At school I learnt "to go hiking" so I suppose that rambling is more athletic or professional or maybe American English?

    Thank you very much for your help
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I can't see much difference, Hese. Hiking is used more often than rambling; significantly so, according to Google:

    To go rambling: 8,000 (UK); 53,000 (world).
    To go hiking: 173,000 (UK); 2,800,000 (world).

    I'm not sure that either is specific to walking around in mountains. To be clear about that I think you should use an expression like to go fell-walking, but that gets very few (under 1,000) Google hits, so I may be in a minority about that.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  13. susanna76 Senior Member

    Hey Hese,

    I lived in the US for several years and have always gone "hiking," not "rambling." Nobody ever used "to go rambling." Am actually curious if it is used at all in the US. The set phrase is definitely to go hiking, and it doesn't have to be a difficult hike.
  14. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Rambling is a British term for hiking.
  15. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Google doesn't quite seem to bear this out, Brioche. It was my impression too before I looked it up.
  16. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    In terms of backing up linguistic hunches, I would no sooner trust google searches than I would contemplate skiing without skis. The principal organisation for walkers in the UK is called the Ramblers' Association. Even in the UK the word rambling has a slightly old fashioned air to it.
  17. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    The OP was concerned with walking in the mountains. My impression is that in BE hiking is more strenuous than rambling, which has rather relaxed, unenergetic, overtones, to my ear. A particularly long or tiresome journey, for instance, can be referred to as 'quite a hike'.

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