The first ever BMC Hill Walking Symposium is like a pick n’ mix: whether you want to get inspired, sharpen your kills, shape the future of access, meet the BMC, or just learn more about how the hills and mountains are changing, we’ve got you covered.
Spending all or some of your weekend at a BMC event can seem like a big commitment, especially if – let’s be honest – the weather is good and the hills are calling. But here are a few reasons we think you should join us in the Peak District for the first ever BMC Hill Walking Symposium this weekend.
Don’t forget, it’s not all or nothing – you can sign up for the whole weekend, with food and accommodation in the Castleton Losehill Hall YHA provided, or just come for either the Saturday or Sunday. Check out the full programme here.
1. Get inspired
We go hill walking for fun, freedom, adventure, rejuvenation and escape – and we want people to come away from the symposium feeling energised and inspired, both to pursue their own hill walking aspirations and adventures, and to help others achieve theirs.
That’s why there’ll be workshops on how lead others in the outdoors, a walk delving under the geological surface of the surrounding area, and an inspirational Saturday evening talk from James Forrest, who recently climbed all of Ireland’s hills and mountains in one uninterrupted push and became the fastest person to do so. And of course, through meeting like-minded people with a passion for the outdoors you’ll swap ideas, share experiences and feed off each other’s enthusiasm.
2. Meet the BMC and find out how to get involved
Whether raising hundreds of thousands of pounds through path repair via the current Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal, or ensuring the freedoms of outdoor enthusiasts are protected through our ongoing lobbying work, the BMC is constantly striving to make a positive difference to the hill and mountain environment and our ability to enjoy it.
Vital to this work is a network of volunteers who get involved at every level, ranging from complex questions of government policy or land management, to grassroots activism like leading walks and organising litter-picks and work parties. This is your chance to get involved – meet staff and volunteers face to face, get a feel for what we do, and find out where you can make that all-important contribution of your own.
3. Sharpen your skills
Sessions over the weekend will give you practical guidance on some of the most important skills in hill walking, including an opportunity to get tips and tuition in navigation from a multiple Mountain Marathon winner in the famously disorientating world of the Kinder Scout plateau. There will also be practical workshops on how to deal with hazards and emergencies – knowledge that can save lives.
4. Have your say on the future of access
The hill walking freedoms we enjoy today are the product of an eventful struggle that goes back 100 years, reflected in landmark legislation like the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000.
We can now walk relatively freely over most hilly and mountainous terrain in England and Wales, most of the time, but is this the end of the story? Cross over the Scottish border, for example, and you find a much different approach to access, where you can effectively walk, roam and camp where you like as long as you do so responsibly. Are there lessons here for England and Wales? Should we be pushing for greater freedoms?
We will be looking at this question with a group discussion, and will be holding an open forum for you to share your views on the issues which matter to you (both on Saturday). Over the course of the weekend we’ll also touch on other big topics like path erosion, litter, environmental regeneration and rewilding – things which are not just relevant to hill walkers, of course, but to everyone who goes outdoors.
5. Learn more about how our hills and mountains are changing
Some of our hill and mountain areas are in a process of transformation – perhaps nowhere more so than in the Peak District and South Pennines, where since 2003 the Moors for the Future Partnership has been regenerating vast areas of peat bog on places like Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, reversing the damaging effects of hundreds of years of pollution and mismanagement. Chris Dean, who leads the partnership, will give a talk to the symposium on Sunday morning, with a following option to see some of the work itself on Bleaklow.
Elsewhere in the programme there will also be opportunities to see the past and present work of Mend Our Mountains around Edale at first-hand, and workshops on wider threats and changes to the upland environment.
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.
WATCH: Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million