One of the hardest things about encouraging anyone to #getoutside is one of self motivation. How many times have you said – OK I will go for a walk this weekend, only to find the slightest excuse not to get up early and get out. I found myself doing this a few years ago and decided I had to find a way to motivate myself to get back into the hills. I know to some people it may seem strange to say, but you can get complacent or even bored with the beautiful scenery especially when the weather is not very good. All is not however lost, there are things that we can do to ‘spice-up’ the enjoyment of walking. Two of these are setting a challenge and mixing another hobby or interest with the walking activity.
Setting a Challenge
The first time I added a challenge to my hill-walking was back in 1993 when I moved to Scotland. It was whilst driving up over the Pass of Drumochter on our way to our new home at Kinloss that my 9 year old son asked if I could take him up some of the very impressive mountains that we were driving through. This in due course led to my son and myself entering the world of ‘Munro Bagging’. Over the next few years we managed to ‘bag’ numerous Munros (The 282 Scottish Mountains over 3000 feet [914.4 m]).
You don’t have to restrict yourself to the Scottish Munros there are numerous categories of summits all over the UK to offer a challenge to virtually everyone and these include:
282 Munros, 227 subsidiary Munro Tops, 442 Murdos, 221 Corbetts, 224 Grahams, 140 Donalds, 34 Furths (None Scottish Munros), 444 Nuttalls, 528 Hewitts, 214 Wainwrights (& 116 outlying fells), 541 Birketts, 1556 Marilyns, plus Deweys, Hardys, HuMPS, Simms and Tumps.
If you do not want to travel too far then why not ‘bag’ all the hills/mountain in your local geographic area. Whether that’s a County or National Park the choices are endless and can provide a lifetime of challenging additions to your weekly walks.
But we do not need to restrict ourselves to ‘summit bagging’, a quick search of the internet will highlight the numerous long distant Footpaths crisscrossing the countryside in various lengths. Some of the more famous ones are the Pennine Way, the Wainwright Coast to Coast Path and the West Highland Way however, there will be some close to you no matter where you live.
A large number are low-level routes but there are numerous routes that will take you up into the hills for example close to me there is the South Downs Way. These paths do not need to be completed in a single attempt but can be used to ‘cherry pick’ routes of interest or convenience to public transport. Either way there is a host of information available about these paths on the internet and a great way to #getoutside.
There is no restriction to the challenges that you can set yourself. On a recent walking trip to the Isle of Wight I met a man and his dog who were in the closing stages of having walked every footpath on the island, a challenge that had taken them over three years.
In 2006 I was introduced to the Marilyns. These are mountains and hills in the British Isles that have a prominence of at least 150 metres (490 feet), regardless of absolute height or other merit. This introduction was not as a result of more new summits to ‘tick-off’ but to do with another attribute that can be used to draw people into or back into the pleasures of hill-walking – the mixing of two or more interests together.
Mixing it up
Many of us have hobbies other than hill-walking and whilst some of these are sedentary pastimes many are or can be adapted to the outdoors. An example of the sort of hobbies and interests that are predominantly outdoor are bird/wildlife watching, geology, archaeology/local history, entomology and geocaching. Any one of these can be intrinsically linked in with hill-walking in one way or another.
Since I was a young boy of 10 I have had a fascination with radios and communications which lead me to become a fully licensed Radio Amateur when I was 14 years old. This is hobby I have nurtured and developed over the intervening 50 years. In 2006 I had a chance radio contact with a Radio Amateur called Richard who was operating his radio from the summit of a hill in central England. He was the co-founder of an Amateur Radio group called Summits On The Air (SOTA) who operated their radio equipment from the tops of mountains and hills all over the world. The definition of a summit for the SOTA organisation is a hill/mountain of 150m prominence, or in British terms a Marilyn.
Having some portable radio equipment of my own I set off up my closest local qualifying hill and managed to make radio contact with Radio Amateurs all over Europe and the UK, some of whom were also on top of Mountains themselves. Over the years I have streamlined my radio equipment and honed my operating skills to be able to operate from the most extreme summits in the worst of blizzards. But more importantly I have infused a new vigour into my hill-walking because there are 1551 summits to activate in the UK alone without looking to the 100’s of 1000’s of summits to activate worldwide.
Want to encourage your Grand Children to come along with you on your hill-walks? Then why not introduce them to Geocaching. It is hard these days to separate a youngster from their computer screens or mobile phones. Well this is a way of mixing up good healthy exercise and technology. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.
Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. This something that they can do on your GPS, if you have one, or even on their mobile phone. It will entertain them and take their minds off of the fact that they are out in the fresh air, and you never know they may develop a love for the great outdoors and the splendor of the hills.
So as you can see, there is no excuse not to get out into the hills. Look at your own hobbies and pastimes and see which ones you can adapt to work with hill-walking. Maybe this is the ideal opportunity to take up a new interest such as bird or butterfly watching get a pair of binoculars and #getoutdoors.