Five things to do AFTER you turn 60

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I asked several older friends of mine what they had wanted to do once they turned sixty.  Many of their suggests were unprintable hear!  But I was able to come up with a TOP 5 things to do and my thoughts on how they could achieve these:

  1. Do something new
    This, for me, was the easiest one to answer.  Take up hill-walking.  “But we haven’t walked very far in years!”  In that case start with a few gentle walks around the neighbourhood slowly increasing the distance and length of time spent outside.  When you feel comfortable look for your local hill and walk to the top.  Again, slowly increase the height of the hills you walk up and before you know it you will be heading for the higher hills and the longer walks.
  2. Get fitter
    This pretty well links in with the previous answer.  However, the one who suggested this had spent all his life either sat in his car or behind a desk – he was very unfit.  I had suggested nice short walks along the river on a sunny Sunday afternoon, even a long walk to a pub – but all to no avail.  Until his Grandson said he was doing a walk with his Beaver Colony and wanted Grandad to come along as well.  Inspired by his Grandson’s wish to walk he went and thoroughly enjoyed himself.  Now he walks for pleasure – so if you are that unfit and need inspiration look no further than your Grand Children.
  3. Go backwoods camping
    At an age when one would expect to stay in a 5 star hotel, or at the very least a Caravan, this was a surprise.  For the benefit of the younger generation backwoods camping is what we called wild camping back in the day.  I was brought up camping and have done it all my life.  So the response was straight forward – get yourself along to the local camping shop and buy a tent and a sleeping bag.  However, do not head for the hills on your first night, instead spend a night at a local campsite or even the back garden.  You never know your mind may have happy memories of camping but reality has changed – in which case donate the tent and sleeping bag to your Grand Children!
  4. Act like a child
    This was a difficult one to respond to as its been a long time since I was a child!  But it was during a recent walk that the inspiration for this one came to me.  I watched a couple of parents with a youngster, maybe 4-5 years old.  They were all having a lovely walk, the parents were talking and enjoying the scenery whilst their daughter was ahead of them jumping into every puddle she could find.  As I passed them I said “she’s enjoying herself” and the response was “it’s what children do”.  So my response to my elder statesmen is look at kids and copy them – but most importantly, have fun.
  5. Travel around Britain
    My colleagues, like many other people in the UK spend their summer holidays jetting off to hotter and more exotic locations.  They never give a thought to the beauty and splendour of the British Isles.  Yet this wonderful group of islands perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean has some of the best places in the world to visit.  Apart from our great and well preserved heritage there are the 15 majestic National Parks – Britain’s breathing spaces.  Stay in your 5 star hotels, but spend your days exploring, driving, walking, sailing, doing whatever you fancy in one of these great national treasures.

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To be perfectly honest these five things apply to all age groups, not just the over 60’s.  We are a nation where a quarter of the British public won’t walk anywhere that takes more than 15 minutes and three quarters of us won’t walk to work or the shops.  We are an unfit nation with figures showing that 11.3 million people do less than 30 minutes’ activity a week.

Be inspired, be determined, be active – GetOutside and enjoy this wonderful land we call home.

Spending Time Outside With The Grandchildren

I am delighted to be able to introduce fellow Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion Sarah Whiting, of Craft Invaders, who has used her child related crafty skills to produce a great guest post for our blog.   With half term coming very soon followed by the usual gambit of school holidays, this contribution is perfect for those Grand Parents on ‘child-sitting‘ duties and stuck for something to do outdoors .craft_invaders

Spending Time Outside With The Grandchildren by Sarah Whiting

 If you have ever watched your grandchildren and wondered if there is any reason for all their running, spinning and climbing, then the quick answer is yes there is – research now shows that all that rushing about, and spinning in particular is actually crucial for their brain development. Research is all well and good, but sometimes we don’t want kids running and dancing around our home, treating it like a giant adventure playground, so here are some simple ideas for getting kids outside and keeping them entertained.
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In my experience, suggesting ‘a really long walk to tire you out’ is not the best way to entice children outside, even if that is your ultimate aim. Going on a Nature Treasure Hunt sounds much more exciting, and there are plenty of resources online that can be printed off and used. We particularly love the fabulous range of Spotter Sheets on the Wildlife Trusts website that covers everything from a Wild Picnic Spotter to being a Spiky Wildlife Detective. Children do still love the simple childhood activities that we all did as kids, such as playing pooh sticks, messing about in streams, searching for insects and climbing trees.

Kids love being creative, so using natural materials to create art is a great way to get them exploring and using their imagination. Try making natural paintbrushes out of twigs, stick double-sided tape on to card and use it to make a mosaic picture out of flower petals, or explore a tree by taking bark rubbings and making leaf imprints.  You can even make your art outside and leave it for others to find – Use twigs, bark and leaves to make a giant picture, make a pebble sculpture on a beach, or use chalk to draw on a pavement.
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Foraging for food is another fabulous way to spend time outside with your grandchildren. Foraging is simply searching for, and collecting wild food. There are many good reasons to forage; wild foods are far more nutrient dense than commercially produced crops, the foods in our hedgerows are what our ancestors evolved to eat, and foraging with children allows us to pass on the knowledge that we learned when we were young, as well as giving
us all a closer connection with the natural world around us. There is nothing nicer than sitting down to a crumble made from fruit you collected yourself, or why not collect Dandelions and make some fabulous biscuits.
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There is no doubt that fresh air and exercise is beneficial to us all, but spending time outside with children gives us so much more. It reminds us of how the world looks through a child’s eyes, and brings back those precious memories of spending time playing outside
when we were young.

Sarah Photo cropped.jpgSarah Whiting is passionate about both children and adults spending more time outside exploring, learning and getting creative.  Sarah loves nothing more than to pass on her knowledge to anyone who asks, so why not visit her on Twitter.

It was this passion that led her to create the Craft Invaders blog with her family, where she shares family orientated craft tutorials (which have a strong focus on nature-based and recycled craft), recipes, foraging, wildlife, and their visits to UK wildlife and historic sites.

You can find out about Sarah and her family’s adventures at http://craftinvaders.co.uk

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Lets Go Trig-Point Hunting

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Back in the beginning of December 2016 I blogged about using other interests coupled with walking as a form of motivation to get outside. Well as a follow on from that blog I am looking at the pastime of Trig-point ‘bagging’.

If you have not come across Trig-points before, they are the common name for “triangulation pillars”. These are concrete pillars, about 4′ tall, which were used by the Ordnance Survey in order to determine the layout of the country and create accurate maps. They are generally found on the highest bit of ground in the area, so that there is a direct line of sight from one pillar to the next. By placing a theodolite on the top of the pillar, accurate angles between pairs of nearby trig-points could be measured in a process known as Triangulation.
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There are over 6000 trig-points scattered across the UK from the north of Scotland to the west of Wales, wherever you go you will not be very far from one.  However, if you are not able to travel far from home then that is not a problem.

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I have shown Hampshire as an example – the dots represents each of the 100’s of trig-points in the county. Although they tend to be placed on ‘high ground’ many are easily accessible from roads without too much climbing or scrambling. As an example – I have 12 trig-points within 7 miles of my quiet village location.

Not sure where to start?  That is the easy bit – visit trigpointing.uk where you can create your own account see where the nearest trig-points are to you and start ‘bagging’. They also provide an easy to use smartphone App which, at a glance, shows you the nearest trig-points, wherever you are.
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Take the Grand Children with you and make it into an adventure, they will love the fact that they can use their smartphones and the app to go hunting outdoors in the fresh air. Some of them are hidden under vegetation (the trig-points, not the Grand Children) so may require a little more searching for, thereby increasing the anticipation and fun to be had.

Still not convinced? Then have a look at the website of my colleague and fellow Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion Tracy Purnell – mynyddblaidd.weebly.com You just can’t help but love Tracy and her two beautiful dogs, Asher & Marley. They are the epitome of trig-point bagging.

On a personal note – I am able to couple 3 different activities together when I visit trig-points.  As a Radio Amateur I communicate with other ‘Radio Hams’ from the trig-points as part of an award scheme.  So I can walk, talk & trig bag all at the same time (and they said men couldn’t multi-task!).

For further details about trig-points see the OS history of the trig

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Review: Neckwarmer Windproof Buff


Review: Mountain Bits Blue/Printed Neckwarmer Windproof Buff

 I was recently approached by @kitshack to see if I would review one of the Buff’s from their Autumn/Winter collection . Having been a fan of Buff’s for many years I was interested to see how the device had changed since I last bought one. The one that I have used for years is the standard Buff which is great at keeping your neck and head warm providing there is no cold wind blowing. So to my surprise I noted that they now did a neckwarmer windproof Buff – exactly what I was looking for!

The specification looked impressive but would that prove to be true in the wild.  A cold day in February was chosen to try out the Buff in the Brecon Beacon’s, South Wales with an air temperature of minus 1C and wind chill of -4C, perfect conditions.
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The Buff fitted very comfortably, I like the shape at the front which allows it to work perfectly with my base layer leaving no skin uncovered. The walk I had chosen started with a very steep climb for 30 minutes allowing enough time to generate a lot of heat. The Buff handled this well, dissipating heat and moisture so that I never felt uncomfortable or too hot around the neck.

On approaching the exposed ridge, where the cold wind really picked up, I pulled the microfibre panel over my mouth and nose. I was impressed at how easy it was to breathe through the material without leaving it damp and uncomfortable, a criticism I had of my earlier Buff’s.
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On completing the walk I was surprised at how warm, dry and comfortable the Buff still remained despite having worked up a good sweat on the trip.

Verdict

Buff’s have come a long way from their early days. This one does exactly what it says on the packet. It protected me from a cold Welsh wind whilst keeping my neck comfortably warm and wicking away any moisture. I was very impressed and will certainly be wearing it on all my winter trips. I may also add the the matching wind-proof hat in the future.

Disclaimer: I was given a Mountain Bits Blue/Printed [Neckwarmer Windproof Buff] by Kit Shack for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

The ‘Alternate’ Three Peaks Challenge

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When considering a challenge for 2017 several different activities went through my mind.  Most I had to eliminate because of the amount of time I could get off work, especially as I was starting a new job at the end of February.  Friends suggested the Three Peaks Challenge, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the Welsh Three Peaks.  All of which were very good but only really entail a weekend for each, and the Welsh Three Peaks was already on the agenda for later in the year.  No I needed something that would challenge me throughout the year!

Well the answer was simple – it was the Three Peaks Challenge! – but not the Three Peaks as you know it.

My challenge for 2017 is to:

“Walk hills/mountains whose total height equals, or exceeds, the combined heights of the three highest mountains in the world”.

Everest – 8848m

K2 – 8611m

Kangchenjunga – 8586m

Total Height – 26045m

Or 2171 metres per month

So, what will this challenge achieve – well nothing except to prove that age or ailment is no barrier to getting outside and up those hills.  If I can do at 60 with severe back pain and arthritis then YOU can do it.  In addition I will also be carrying all of my radio equipment and communicating with other Radio Amateurs from each summit.

Give it a go and surprise yourself, you will certainly feel the benefits very quickly.

Remember

It is better to be on the hill than over the hill

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Beacon Hill/Old Winchester Hill

Someone stopped me the other day and queried the fact that I do most of my hill-walking in South Wales.  Their concern was that if they wanted to take up hill-walking would they have to travel 3 hours each way to and from Wales for a day in the hills?  A large number of us will probably not have a large range of hills on our door step.  Is this going to hamper us in any way?  NO, of course not that are plenty of hills to walk wherever you live – unless you live in East Anglia where you may have a slight problem.  Most people however, will have some hills within a half hours drive or bus ride.

So, to put my money where my mouth is, I planned a route to take in couple of hills and a decent walking distance within a 10 minute drive of my home.  The route predominantly follows the South Downs Way and the Monarch’s Way and is circular with an excellent pub at the end of it.

Distance – 8.7 miles; Ascent – 1093 feet; Time Taken – 4 hours
Difficulty – Leisurely; Surface – Grass, Gravel & Tarmac

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I chose to start my walk in Exton and parked just around the corner from the village pub.  Parking is not easy in Exton especially in the height of the summer or at weekends, so you could start the walk from anywhere on the route.  Do not be tempted to park in the pub car park unless you wish to suffer the wrath of the Landlord.

Follow the South Downs Way (Temporary Route) signs out of the village heading towards Beacon Hill.  This takes you up a narrow country lane at a nice gentle gradient, just right to get those leg muscles warmed up.  Take time to look at the verge area which is protected as a wild flower zone.  As you reach the top of the hill you will see the  Beacon pillar in the field to your right.dscn0197

Shortly after the beacon pillar take the sign posted track to the summit of Beacon Hill.dscn0198

A short 200m walk up the path brings you to the summit of Beacon Hill and the Trig Pillar.DSCN0201.JPG

From here the footpath heads west to a car parking area before picking up the Monarch’s Way.  Head north-east and descend to the road below.  Turn right a line the road to Warnford.  As you approach the T-junction look to the right for the water cress beds before turning left along the main A32 for 50 metres.dscn0208

Walk past The George and Falcon public house to the right hand turn sign-posted for Old Winchester Hill.DSCN0210.JPG

This is a long steady climb up to the top of Old Winchester Hill.  At the top of the hill follow the track away from the road towards the Iron Age Hill Fort.  This is an interesting section of path as it has been split into two distinct and well signed paths.  The left hand one is for walkers and wheel chair users whilst the one on the right is for bikers and horse riders.  As you approach the Hill Fort do not take the obvious path to the left but go past the Natural England display board and follow this path into the Hill Fort itself.DSCN0218.JPG

Take time to explore the explore the Bronze Age and Iron settlements, ditches and ramparts as you work you way through the hill fort finally culminating at the trig point and observation plate.DSCN0220.JPG

Take the path out of the western end of the hill fort and follow all the way down the hill back to the main A32.  Cross the road and proceed along the road into Exton and back to the start point.DSCN0224.JPG

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5 Simple Safety Rules

sar-mrtIf you are thinking of starting hill walking or returning to the hills after a long break then it is important that we discus the boring stuff like safety.  I know in the modern world we constantly harp on about Health & Safety and the ‘Nanny State’.  But safety is there for a reason and none more so than when you are on the hills.  We are not necessarily talking about going off piste and climbing Snowdon, Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis, you could be just going for a walk along the South Downs Way or similar footpath.  Wherever you go the same rules apply.

If I were to sit down with a group of my OS Get Outside colleagues and start a list of safety rules it would probably run to tens of items.  All would be valid but we have to be a little more practicable or you will hide away and never venture out of the front door.  Therefore I am producing here what I think are the 5 most important and basic rules relating to safety on the hills.

Plan your trip – Make sure you plan your route meticulously, use a route sheet to calculate leg lengths and height gain/loss.  Plan escape routes and highlight any danger zones that you may encounter.  Highly recommend OS Maps – a brilliant tool and well worth the money.  Always (and I mean always) carry a map and compass and know how to use them.  The planning is pointless otherwise. Check the weather before you leave at The Met Office, if there is any doubt that the weather may be unsuitable then there is No Doubt – Don’t Go.

Tell Someone– It is very important that you tell a responsible person about your. They need to know where you are going, route details, party size, where your cars are parked and what time you are due off the hill.  The responsible person also needs to know when and how to raise the alarm – One Hour Overdue, call 999 ask for Police, tell them you need Mountain Rescue.  I use a route safety card specifically designed for the purpose by the OS.

Carry the right kit – your kit will vary depending on the time of year and where you are walking but as a minimum you should always carry spare warm clothing, waterproofs, spare socks, basic survival bag, whistle, torch/head lamp and spare batteries, fire lighter, first aid kit, high energy food (mint cake), water.  During the winter you may well wish to add a bothy bag, crampons, ice axe, quilted jacket.

Allow plenty of time – having done all of the planning don’t be tempted to leave home at a leisurely time.  During the winter the light fads very early and quickly and you do not want to be caught out on the hills in the dark.  If your planning says your route will take 5 hours then ensure you start the walk at least 6 hours before dusk so that you will to return an hour before darkness.  Do not forget to factor in the time for food or rest you plan to take.

Know your limits – this is very important both for yourself and any others you may be walking with.  Tiredness and fatigue can come on you very quickly especially on a cold, damp winters day.  If there is any sign that you or a member of your team is suffering from fatigue, is unwell, or injured – then turn back or follow one of your pre-planned escape routes off of the hill.  The hill will still be there next week.

One of the most important things to remember is:

Getting to the top is optional – getting home safely is mandatory!

We Need You!

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Are you over 60, plan to be over 60 or know someone who is over 60 – then please read on.

We at Hill Walking For The Over 60’s would like to invite, encourage or coerce you to take an active part in this blog/website.  If you have any stories, anecdotes or amusing situations that you are prepared to share then please contact us via the Contacts Page.

We don’t mind what it is providing it relates to hill walking for the older generation, and is, of course, re-printable!

Maybe you are thinking of taking up hill-walking now that you are approaching, or have reached, retirement age.  Not sure where to start and have a whole host of questions that you need answering.

We don’t necessarily need a huge essay.  Just a few words or some photos will suffice.  However, if you have something approaching a tome then we will still be interested in reading it.

Still interested?  Then go to our Contact Us page and fill in the form. Or drop us an email at glyn({@})60plus-hillwalking.co.uk  if you are on Twitter contact me at @G4CFS

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Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion

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It is an honour to be able to announce that I have been chosen by the Ordnance Survey to be one of their #GetOutside Champions. For me this is a dream role being given the opportunity to help inspire more people to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.

In the words of the Ordnance Survey

“we believe that an active outdoor lifestyle helps you to live longer, stay younger and enjoy life more. But it is a sad fact that research tells us fewer and fewer people are regularly getting outside, either on foot, on bike or by any other means….. The results suggested a quarter of the British public won’t walk anywhere that takes over 15 minutes. Three quarters won’t walk to work. Almost 70% never walk to the shops, while only a third would ever do the school run on foot, with only around a third of us admitting to enjoying a weekend walk for pleasure”.

The Ordnance Survey launched the #GetOutside initiative to change this, by showing people of all ages and abilities just how amazing Great Britain is, and how easy it is to #GetOutside and enjoy it, which is where the #GetOutside champions come in. It is our job to inspire and encourage more people to #GetOutside.

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So what does this mean for me. Well two things –

  1. Promoting the linking of another hobby with hill-walking such as Summits On The Air, Geo Caching or ‘Summit-Bagging’ thereby increasing the motivation to #GetOutside through challenge.
  2. Encouraging and inspiring over 60’s to get out and enjoy the hills rather than thinking that they have reached the ‘carpet slipper’ stage of life and are ‘Over the hill and not On the hill’.

How this will be achieved will be revealed over the next few weeks but suffice to say what I write on my two blog sites;

plus the Ordnance Survey #GetOutside website:

will have a major impact on the outcome.


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Getting Motivated

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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]).
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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.
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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.

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Norwegian Radio Amateur Tor setting up

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.

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The authors radio set-up on top of Graig Syfyrddin, South Wales

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.

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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.