So, after my Secret Compass expedition to Brecon Beacons, I thought I’d put together a few thoughts on the best things to do to get yourself into the wild outdoors from a standing start.
1. Start Small
Don’t decide to climb Everest or find the source of the Nile on your first expedition. Start with something manageable – a day-walk, or perhaps an overnight in less hostile country – stay at a campsite in the Chilterns in summer. Even Bear Grylls started small!
2. Go With Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing
I went with Secret Compass. It means someone else can take care of the more cerebral elements, such as route-planning, navigation and safety, whilst you become familiar with the environment and more basic challenges.
3. Don’t Spend Loads On Kit Straight Away
You don’t know what you need or what you’ll use. Borrow some from others until you’re committed, (another reason to go with a guide or company). But…
4. Invest well in boots
They will determine your enjoyment more than anything. Don’t be oversold as to needing hardcore mountaineering boots if you’re just going to be walking – don’t go over a grade B unless you’re regularly going to be using crampons.
5. Set Yourself Goals
To begin with it may just be to get to a certain country pub; then it may be to get up Snowdon; next it might be completing the Welsh 3000s. Setting goals gives you a sense of purpose and a tangible way to measure your growing achievements
6. Join a Club or Society
There are local clubs in nearly every town that will organise walking and camping trips. It motivates you, reduces the effort you have to put in to organise each trip, and gets you meeting loads of new people with interests that match yours. Start with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) website, which will redirect you to local organisations. If you are under 25, get involved with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme immediately!
Overall though, it’s just about giving it a try – getting out there and enjoying our wonderful environment. Yes, you might get cold and wet; but believe me, that’s half the thrill. And when you get back to the office and tell your colleagues what you’ve been up to, they’ll not only be jealous. They might be inspired to join you too.
Check out the BMC Website for more information and local contact.
Have a look at Secret Compass’s website for information about expeditions and their internship programme.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, or DofE, is a multifaceted way of teaching young people skills, confidence and experience.