A good, muddy time was had by more than 30 people as the BMC reached out to hill walkers in person during an engagement day in the Peak District.
A bleak forecast and a cloud-shrouded Kinder Scout did little to deter people from attending the event last Friday, which aimed to give hill walkers a chance to quiz the BMC’s top brass and offer their suggestions for how the organisation’s hill walking work could be improved.
Setting out from the Bowden Bridge car park, formerly the quarry from which the iconic Kinder Trespass began, the group had a wind-blown wander past Kinder Reservoir and up the banks of the Kinder River, before returning on the other side of the reservoir back to Hayfield.
Back in the warmth of the Royal pub in Hayfield participants had soup, sandwiches and mulled wine before taking part in a discussion with BMC CEO Dave Turnbull, president Scott Titt, hill walking officer Carey Davies and Plas y Brenin chief executive Martin Doyle about the BMC’s hill walking work.
All were encouraged to share their thoughts on what the BMC could do to boost its efforts for hill walkers. Ideas included doing more local lobbying around parking in walking areas like the Snake’s Pass and Kentmere, campaigning for better public transport links to the countryside and delivering more introductory hill walking courses like the ones the BMC subsidises at Plas y Brenin in local areas.
Other ideas included supporting an online ‘check in’ system to help locate missing walkers, publishing BMC walking guidebooks, and adapting the website to convey more immediately obvious hill walking information.
All these thoughts are useful and many highlight promising possibilities for the BMC’s future work. Sometimes the suggestions touched on work the BMC was already doing but participants weren’t aware of.
The BMC has a perennial problem of perception among hill walkers and the day certainly helped in this regard; one attendee described it as a ‘revelation’ and said he hadn’t realised how much the organisation already does for walkers.
Feedback was largely very positive. One attendee said: “I had a most enjoyable day, the walk itself took me to a little bit of the Kinder area I'd not previously explored (and given me inspiration to explore further) plus the conversation proved fascinating. I discovered a great deal about the BMC's commitment to walkers (and indeed about Plas y Brenin too) which did much to enhance my opinion of the organisation and its relevance to me as a walking-orientated member.”
We would like to thank all who attended for their thoughts and conversation. It was great to see a diverse mix of people and we are very grateful to all who attended for their enthusiasm and feedback.
If you didn’t manage to attend this time, don’t worry – there will be more events of this type in other parts of the country coming up later in the year.
Carey Davies, BMC hill walking officer
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