Theoretically you could go out and start walking in your day to day footwear and clothing you are wearing now, but you may wish you hadn't. This simple guide will help you to enjoy your walking in the country and with the handy tips, may even save your life if you get caught out in bad weather conditions.
Probably the one main item you should have is a good set of walking boots. There are many specialist walking shops now around that will help you with the daunting task of buying one pair from the many available. The most common boots are leather, as these will allow your feet to breath more easily and also keep out the rain. To reduce the risk of spraining an ankle, the boot should have adequate ankle support and/ or padding. Once you have bought your footwear, they should be 'broken in', that is, do a series of walks in the new boots of about 30miles to help mould them to your feet.
Clothing should be considered carefully when walking. The wind can seriously affect how comfortable you are as it reduces your body temperature and makes you wish you had never started! It may be better to take more clothes than you need as you can always put them in your backpack for later use if required. Always take a hat with you as your head loses the most heat from your body.
Ideally a warm set of thin clothes should be worn under any waterproof layer that you have. An important thing to remember is that when you are out walking, the evaporation from your body must be allowed to exit from your clothing to the outside. If your clothing is not breathable you will sweat more and feel a lot colder. A preference of mine is to wear 2 pair of socks, one thin pair next to the skin and a thicker pair next to the footwear. This makes for a more comfortable walk in my opinion.
Waterproofs must be carefully chosen. If non waterproof garments are purchased, you may be only protected from a shower and become soaking wet if it really rains. It may be false economy to buy a set of cheap shower proof bottoms and coat from the offset, as you will only end up buying another set of the same garments, this time made out of waterproof and breathable material.