Current statistics around adult sedentary levels are pretty shocking: research has suggested a quarter of the British public won’t walk anywhere that takes more than 15 minutes and three quarters of us don’t walk to work or the shops.
As many of you might already know, last year I teamed up with KEEN to help tackle an element of this through our Trail Fit sessions. As you might also know, I recently became an Ordnance Survey GetOutside champion — an opportunity I’m really excited about as it combines two of my favorite things; maps and encouraging people to spend time outside! The launch event naturally included a treasure hunt and a very muddy walk:
Nick Giles (top right in the picture above), MD of Ordnance Survey has this to say about the #GetOutside initiative, now in its third year:
“The GetOutside initiative is core to OS’s aims to help more people to GetOutside more often, it is about inspiring adventures, enabling experiences and helping make memories. It’s already encouraging people to re-engage with the outdoors and showing that it is enjoyable, accessible and safe for all ages and abilities.”
Sounds good to me!
It therefore seemed only fitting that I headed straight from the GetOutside launch to hang out with my friend (and fellow GetOutside champion) Jason Rawles in Wales. Jason is a qualified Mountain Leader, Adventure Guide and all round brilliant human. He’d kindly agreed to host 6 of us at his home in Llanberis to go over some of the skills necessary to be a Mountain Leader. To start with the planning, some recommended sites for checking the weather:
Jason advised us that he checks all 3 of these to get a good average.
Then it was time for a refresher course on route planning and navigation:
I don’t mind admitting that my skills were pretty rusty in this area!
As brilliant as technology is, I’m keen to spend more time in the mountains and with this in mind, I’m wary of being overly dependent on technology — after all, a phone can accidentally break/run out of battery/sustain water damage, etc. Map reading skills are something I’m determined to improve and the action packed weekend with Jason was a brilliant start! We were greeted with typically Welsh weather — perfect for testing our navigational skills in poor visibility!
If anything, the abysmal visibility highlighted the importance of keeping these skills refreshed. It was really easy to see how in conditions like this, you’d very quickly find yourself disorientated.
As we headed up towards the top of Moel Eilio, Jason would give us mini tests throughout to check we a)knew where we were and b)could recognise where we were headed on the map. Practical testing of our developing skills like this, rather than just in the “classroom” (aka Jason’s kitchen) was really effective. By the time we headed back, everything was clicking into place and we all felt much more confident.
In contrast to Saturday’s battle against the elements in the quest for a summit, Sunday was spent lower down. Partly due to weather and partly due to the fact that the girls and I had to head back to London around lunchtime!
Mountain Leader generally covers anything without the intended use of a rope — so the focus is very much on safeguarding on steep terrain, rather than say the somewhat more dramatic lowering down on a vertical crag! The idea of rope work can feel rather daunting so it was brilliant to see how actually even simple rope work can be very effective:
Sunday was a good reminder that it’s really not all about bagging summits and battling against the elements — there’s plenty to be said for a casual stroll, too. Time spent outside is time well spent.
This was my third trip to Llanberis and Jason still managed to reveal some gorgeous new places as we rambled around.
As well as revisiting a few favourites, like this amazing waterfall hidden away. It pays to know a local!
Please don’t let a lack of skills prevent you from exploring! It’s never too late to learn. Here’s a little something to get you started: Ordnance Survey’s guide to map reading