Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial period. But you probably already knew that, especially if you joined us on the Geology Walk led by Stephen Mott at the BMC HIll Walking Event 2020.
The event which took place on the edge of Windermere at YHA Ambleside and across the surrounding fells saw around 60 BMC members come together to gain new skills, discuss important issues including climate change and conservation, learn about the history and heritage of the hills, walk the local fells, and crucially, to celebrate hill walkers at the BMC.
As we settled in for the weekend ahead, we were joined by former MD of Karrimor and the founder of OMM Ltd, Mike Parsons. Mike spoke with us about his new release, ‘Keeping Dry and Staying Warm’, his book which discusses garment performance for outdoors activities. While Mike spoke to us about the most recent advances in garment technology. Our next speaker, Kelda Rowe, took us back in time with historical hill walking objects and equipment on display. Kelda introduced us to the incredible collection and work of the Mountain Heritage Trust. The Trust, which is located at the Blencathra Field Centre in Keswick, is home to a collection of films, images, books and artefacts from some of Britain’s most daring adventurers.
Saturday brought new adventures as six groups headed out onto the hills. Three groups led by Iona Pawson from Plas-y-Brenin, John Kewley and Andy Clifford worked on navigational skills, including practical micro-navigation, navigating ‘beyond the path’ and navigation as a Mountain Leader. Meanwhile, Richard Fox from Fix The Fells took participants up Wansfell Pike to see the vital work of the organisation who sustainably repair mountain paths. Geology was another focus of the day’s activities with Friends’ of the Lake DIstrict’s Stephen Mott leading a group around the local area to identify the geological features which make this landscape so distinct.
As groups returned from the hills we settled in for an evening of talks. We were joined by a host of special guests, including anthropologist, archaeologist and TV presenter Mary-Ann Ochota, BMC President Lynn Robinson and Dr Catherine Flitcroft. Lynn kicked off the evening with stories of her hill walking adventures, including the Lakeland 3000s 24 hour challenge and some of the amazing work she has done as a volunteer over the years (something which she has earned the BMC George Band Award for)!
Lynn’s talk was followed by Dr Catherine Flitcroft who spoke about the amazing work of the Access and Conservation team at the BMC who have been working hard for better access to the UK’s countryside, as well as carrying out conservation work to protect it. Cath spoke of the successes of the Mend Our Mountains Project which has raised over 1 million pounds to help mend mountain paths. She discussed the BMC’s Hills2Oceans project which aims to remove litter from hills, mountains and crags before it ends up in our oceans. H2O litter picks and reusable bags were available and distributed to participants excited to make change in their local area.
Mary-Ann Ochota wrapped up the evening with her talk on the archaeological wonders of the British countryside, pointing out local spectacles in the historical Lake District, such as Castlerigg Stone Circle and mesolithic burial sites, sharing with us her knowledge of our historical countryside and information on her book Hidden Histories: A Spotter's Guide to the British Landscape. Not to mention a funny story or two about hikes through the hills and sharing a bothy bag with her dog (not recommended)!
Sunday saw another day of activities with Iona Pawson running a workshop up on the fells, teaching participants about leading on steep ground, route finding and decision making for groups on mountainous terrain. John Kewley and Andy Clifford took groups out for another day of navigation skills, this time focused on contour based navigation. While Mark Hatton led a group around the pits and caves of Coniston Coppermines where he imparted his knowledge of the rich history of the mining activity there between 1600 and 1900.
Back at the YHA discussions took place on wilding/rewilding and sustainable conservation of wild areas in the UK with Dr Catherine Flitcroft, Rachel Oakley from Wild Ennerdale and Andrew Taite from Friends of the Lake District. The group discussed ways in which careful, measured and proportionate changes and interventions made in partnership with landowners can result in a diverse and varied landscape, achieving real and valuable improvements to biodiversity. In the afternoon Mike Parsons returned for a small workshop on outdoor clothing.
The weekend was a massive success which built on the BMC’s incredible community of hill walkers and developed ideas around skills, community, climate protection, sustainability, knowledge of nature, wildlife, geology, as well as the history of the UK’s beautiful countryside. We look forward to more events such as this and continue to work together to make the hill walking community, safer, stronger and more welcoming than ever!
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who came along and to all volunteers, groups leaders and speakers who made it such a success. A special thank you also goes out to Peter Judd, Hill Walking Rep for the Peak Area, whose hard work and dedication to the weekend without which would not have been possible. Thanks Peter!
The BMC Hill Walking Event was the last event to run before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Since then, all BMC events have either been postponed or cancelled until the end of June and the BMC office has temporarily closed. For up-to-date information regarding BMC events please use the link below:
Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million
Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a BMC campaign to raise £1 million to repair paths across the UK's 15 National Parks.
If you love the outdoors, we're asking you to support your favourite mountain by donating to Mend Our Mountains. You can donate online here.
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