Britain’s mountains have probably never been climbed by so many people. And the vast majority of those people are walkers. Here’s why the BMC’s new name applies to them too.
Climbers are not the only people who climb mountains.
In fact, most of the people who climb into the high places of Britain and beyond do so using just their two feet. Their most technical equipment is probably the GPS in their phone and they hardly lay a hand on rock while scaling sublime peaks like Snowdon, Scafell Pike or Suilven.
In other words, walkers.
If you talk about the type of people who ‘climb mountains’, a lot of people might imagine someone with bulging arms, bristling with slings, carabiners and other pieces of shiny metal.
In fact, people like that are a minority when it comes to outdoor adventure. A recent survey of the activities people do in national parks found that walking was by far the most popular activity, at 59%, compared to 5% for climbing.
In 2013, the number of people walking up Snowdon in one year peaked at an incredible 450,000.
And every year mountain walking challenges grow in popularity, with ever greater numbers attempting the Yorkshire or National Three Peaks, or embarking on the task of bagging all the Munros or Wainwrights.
Britain’s mountains have probably never been climbed by so many people. And most of those people are walkers.
And of course, walking in the hills and mountains is no less inspirational, adventurous, or life-affirming than climbing.
Anyone who has tackled the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, climbed the likes of Snowdon or Scafell Pike, watched a sunset from a summit or just pushed themselves to get up their local hill knows the inspirational afterglow that walking gives you.
Anyone who has gone backpacking in Scotland, scrambled on Tryfan, trekked in the Himalayas, or tramped in New Zealand knows how adventurous ‘walking’ can be.
Anyone who has caught a cloud inversion, seen their own shadow haloed in the sky by a Brocken spectre, looked at the stars in a sky uncrowded by light pollution, woken up to sunrise from a mountain wild camp, or experienced a sunset over the Alps from a high-altitude rifugio, knows that walking in wild and high places is a portal to experiencing the universe at its most spectacular.
Today the BMC announced it will be changing its name to ‘Climb Britain’. Many walkers may hear this new name and wonder if it applies to them.
The answer is that of course it does. ‘Climb’ is not the same as ‘climbing’.
The BMC is a broad cathedral of people. The majority of our members say hill walking is their main activity, but there are also climbers, boulderers, indoor climbers and mountaineers, and many people who are a mix of all the above.
What we have in common is that we all climb stuff. We represent a continuum of activities which vary in style but all share challenge and adventure as essential characteristics. Walking is a hugely important part of this mix.
And the new name will not affect the vital work we do to protect the rights of ordinary people to access the countryside and look after the mountain landscape, which many walkers value and benefit from.
This year we raised an unprecedented £104,000 for footpath repair works on iconic mountains like Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ingleborough through the Mend Our Mountains campaign. We have even bigger and better ambitions for our campaigning work under our new name – watch this space.
Call to action
Above all, the name ‘Climb Britain’ is a call to action which we hope will reach many people and persuade them of the power of getting outdoors.
As adventurer, TV presenter and BMC hill walking ambassador Mary-Ann Ochota puts it: "Britain is a small island, but it offers a lifetime of adventure. It doesn’t need to be the North Face of the Eiger, or a Bouldering World Championship you set your sights on.
“It could be the hills of the Peak District, or the Brecon Beacons, or the climbing wall at your local leisure centre. It could be a half-day stroll with the kids and a picnic. Whatever you do, Climb Britain will be with you every step of the way."
Climb Snowdon. Climb Scafell Pike. Climb Ben Nevis. Climb the countless possibilities of the Peak District, the Lake District, the Brecon Beacons, the Yorkshire Dales or the vast Scottish Highlands.
Climb the Munros. Climb the Wainwrights. Cut your teeth on mountains at home, then go on to climb Kilimanjaro or Mont Blanc, or explore the Alps and Himalayas. Climb that hill near your house. Climb whatever you want, and climb it your own way.
Whatever you do, we will have your back when you need us, whether that’s providing insurance for when things go wrong, fighting your corner politically, or looking after the landscapes you love.
Walk Britain. Explore Britain. Love what Britain has to offer.
Get out there and Climb Britain.
Read more about Climb Britain
BMC to change its name to Climb Britain
After more than 70 years as the British Mountaineering Council, we’ve decided to move with the times and unite all our members under one 'Climb' banner.
Climb Britain: the facts
We take a look at the facts behind the change to Climb Britain.
What does Climb Britain mean for walkers?
Changing to Climb Britain won't affect our work for walkers – find out more.
Climb Britain: a personal message from BMC CEO Dave Turnbull
Dave Turnbull gives a behind-the-scenes look at the process.
Climb Britain: Update from the BMC
It's been a rocky ride this last few days, and it's probably fair to say we didn’t quite anticipate the level of interest there would be in our Climb Britain announcement.