Hill Walking – Therapy for the Mind

Posted: Friday, 23 January 2015

  I received some bad news this morning. Each person has a way to deal with these things when they happen, but for me, and I suspect many others who read this, it is walking. In that way, with some quiet reflexion, it helps considerably. After compiling a recent study from the University of Michigan, its author writes “Stress isn’t ever going to go away, so it is important to have a way to cope with it. Walking in nature is a coping mechanism—the benefits aren’t just physical.” ( This sort of ‘therapy’ is in the news media a lot at the moment with Cheryl Strayed’s much hyped book and film ‘Wild’ having just been released. When I was teaching in New Zealand, a senior teacher who was under considerable strain from a broken down marriage and the pressures of an inspection at work, suffered a mental breakdown. It manifested himself by him donning his jacket and boots and walking out of his house at 10 pm...

Read More »

What makes a competent leader?

Posted: Thursday, 11 December 2014

What makes a competent outdoor leader? This was an interesting interactive discussion at the recent conferences. Owen Hayward (chairman of Mountain Training UK) led the discussion. The following key attributes came from the audience:

  • Experience
  • Sound technical skills
  • Groups well-briefed when being remotely supervised
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Appropriate safeguards for adults involved
  • Ability to make decisions under pressure
  • Common sense
The last of these, prompted further discussion. Common sense is not so common, as Voltaire said.       Leader competence: expectations 1a. Hold the relevant National Governing Body award for the activity / terrain / season (recognised across UK and employers) OR 1b. signed off by an appropriately qualified and insured technical advisor recognised by the employer (limited to one employer) 2. Recent and relevant...

Read More »

Is Risk Assessment Always Necessary?

Posted: Tuesday, 18 November 2014

  Last week the two PALOES EVC conferences took place in Oxford. This year for the first time they were split into a Prep School and a Secondary School event due to the different nature of the off-site visits that they undertake. The question the recurred during the various presentations on both days was is risk assessment really necessary. Martin Chester (an Outdoor Industry consultant and Director of Development at Plas y Brenin) confessed that he had never used a Risk Assessment in his life, and didn’t believe in them. All well and good, but he is not a teacher. After lunch Iain Campbell (a solicitor from Hill Dickinson specialising in education) said that the law would expect Risk Assessments for school trips. The Secondary Conference opened with a keynote from the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (Judith Hackitt). The HSE is the national independent regulator of health and safety issues in the workplace, and is responsible for enforcing relevant legislation. Amongst its...

Read More »

Mountain Rescue Advice

Posted: Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A guest article, by Ray Greenhow First hand experience of Police involvement in Mountain Rescues, from a recently retired Control Room Inspector with Cumbria Police When I initially started my blog I stated my former occupation as the control room inspector (now retired) at Cumbria police headquarters. I hope here to improve walkers knowledge of an incident through this experience and my frequent walks in the fells. Some processes have evolved since my leaving and I have tried to keep myself updated on what those are and how they impact on safety on the fells. My specific experience is within Cumbria, The Lake District, though many of the issues I discuss are relevant to other mountainous areas, though the protocols may vary. I have no intention here of giving you guidance on what to take and how to conduct yourself on the fells, the mountain rescue teams make strenuous efforts in this regard through their internet sites and displays at annual shows, etc. and it is not my area of...

Read More »