My worst fear....

I found this photo in the October issue of The Great Outdoors magazine of an unfortunate hiker in Scotland who seems to have “disappeared” into a bog.

Looks throughly terrible and terrifying especially if you are a solo hiker.

…using flimsy statistics and being very judgmental, it appears the UK has more hiking/walking magazines than we do in the USA. Go figure that one!

In much the same way that you never see dead cats stuck in trees, you never run across the bodies of walkers stuck in bogs. Or at least not often.

You would have to ask why him and his mate were trying to do a ‘Jesus’ and walk on water. Look at the ground, the vegetation, the colours and that bright green stuff. It all screams out that there’s some serious bog about. I’ve fallen in enough times, in as deep as the manly parts, to learn to read the ground and prod it with those long pointy sticks I carry. Now it’s just the odd boot full of water.

Andy’s verdict: Noobs or staged. :slight_smile:

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It actually happened to me, once. One February back in the 70’s a party of us were lucky enough to get a midweek slot at the CIC hut on the north side of Ben Nevis, we had three days of memorable ice climbing then the radio warned us of an approaching blizzard so we packed up and evacuated. On the way down the snow and ice gave way and I found myself waist deep in mud. With the snow falling thickly nobody saw me, but fortunately I was wearing a pack frame so I wriggled out of it, put it in front of me, and climbed out over it. I remember on the return journey we only got across Rannoch Moore because we followed two snowploughs operating in tandem. Happy days!

Got caught out once - on Tarren y Gesail GW/NW-033.

The escape technique described in The Hillwalker’s Manual got me out of it, and since, thankfully, like Andy, it’s just been the very occasional “surprise” of a boot plunging into water.

You could consider carrying anything from the fairly simply McMurdo Fastfind PLB through to the Garmin Inreach Exterme just in case.

Interestingly several reviews indicate that this unit cannot be legally carried on a passenger flight. Strange.

Yes, I did wonder why it was being photographed and the possibility of it being “fake news”.

I was trying to think how many times I have been up to the knee in bog and recalled getting a good wet bootful on the way up Aran Fawddwy GW/NW-007 back in 2007 when I was with John GW4BVE. I did get up to the knee in the smelly black stuff on Cracoe Fell G/NP-032 and probably on a couple of other outings when I have stood on a rock that has shifted and dumped my foot into the mire. The only “up to the backside” outing was on Black Hill G/SP-002 when the white stuff was rather deep - but oh what fun! :grinning:

My quick research tells that you cannot sink and disappear in a bog, because the specific density of the mud-water mixture is greater than that of a human being, so you may die from swallowing mud and water, drown when unconscious, get bitten by mosquitos, but not sink and disappear as in a horror movie. At least that is what e.g. ZEIT ONLINE | Lesen Sie mit Werbung oder im PUR-Abo. Sie haben die Wahl. tells (in German).

Sinkholes (Sinkhole - Wikipedia) are likely much more of a danger…

73 de Martin, DK3IT

Good suggestion and I started carrying one ages when going alone into the middle of nowhere in the Western USA.

The California version of the Hillwalkers Manual doesn’t have a section on bogs.

What’s the secret to self extraction?


  1. Abandon all hope of remaining clean and dry.
  2. Remove jacket and lie it on the bog behind you.
  3. Sit on the bottom edge of your jacket and slowly lie down back on it.
  4. Your feet/legs will then slowly float up and you can free yourself.

Then getting to your feet without becoming entrapped again is far from trivial of course!

Windy hill on the Isle of Bute is fairly sucky, if you know what I mean!

I must admit that my worst fear in the North Pennines is accidentally finding an old mineshaft by falling in it. Some were covered over with wood many years ago and now look like grassy peat on the surface, but have a large hole underneath. They are usually given away by the shape of the ground nearby, which may be doughnut shaped… Most are not mapped… usually sheep manage to find them first and at that stage they are capped. I would guess that most fells round here will have tens if not hundreds of holes…I suppose that is what you get when living in a house built in the 1850’s for London Lead for the level about 50m away!

During a sweep of the down flow areas of Mt. St. Helens’ second eruption my brother sunk down to his waist in pumice and ash. The edges of the flow close to land had dried and appeared firm enough for our search efforts. Unfortunately he stepped a few inches to far and punched through the dried surface to the mud below. I found a sizable tree limb and was able to extract him. Appearances can be deceiving.

then keep ye away from foxtor mires on dartmoor - a place few fear to tread - a place that WILL swallow the unwary !! - de G6URM

Had a few scary moments on The Hoove G/NP-024 whilst it’s been snowed over had to pull myself out with hiking poles, think Bear Grylls done a scene in the Highlands of how to get out from a bog. (Probably went to the hotel afterwards)

My worst fear is camping for the night and nipping down to the pub for a pint only to end up in a pub like this.