Firstly congratulations to Chris and Teresa for passing their NNAS Silver Award in dreadful conditions at the weekend – gales, rain and hill fog! You had it all and if you could navigate through that, you should be able to find your way through anything.
Conditions were so bad we even had to take a detour to The Bog Visitors Centre – which does some of the best home baked cakes in Shropshire! Usually I manage to avoid a cake stop on assessment courses, but this one was truly earned and the opportunity gratefully received by all, including Derek from NNAS who had come along to moderate the course. Poor Guy, he had left near perfect conditions in Cumbria to take a battering from our beloved Shropshire weather.
I enjoy teaching the NNAS awards, quite often I get people on courses who have done a bit of hillwalking but are put off by the prospect of how serious getting lost could be. I hope our approach to teaching navigation leaves them confident and competent to go off and explore our amazing hills and mountains for themselves. I’ve always enjoyed going into the hills, just to see what’s there. This goes back to spending what felt like endless Sunday afternoons as a bored child looking out of my Aunty Beryl’s cottage at the Welsh mountains (namely Cadair Idris and Bird Rock) and wondering what it would be like to be up there looking down at these boring people so engrossed in The Weekly News. The wondering lead to me volunteering for the Ten Tors Expedition at school and the rest is history. I’m definitely in the lets go explore fraternity, rather than the how vast can we do it, is there a certificate or how much are you going to sponsor me camps? Visiting wild places really should be about enjoying them for their own value and despite not having any great technically difficult terrain locally, Shropshire does have some great places to visit and would urge you all to park up and go for a walk or a paddle.
Paddling kayaks, canoes and boards are just a different way of traveling through a landscape and I wish people could see the potential of crossing disciplines in order to get the most out of an area. Particularly with SUP boards – okay I have a vested interest here as I sell boards, but they are so versatile. They are light, cruise like a canoe and a large board can carry a substantial load when fitted with the correct dry bags (available from us). SUP really is like an extension of walking, but on water! Something I should have mentioned to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who called today.
My own fault really, last time they called I swapped them a Watch Tower for a Socialist Worker and never expected to see them again, well they came back to see how I got on. This time I did try selling them a kayak lesson, but they weren’t game – despite some strong arguments taken from the book of Revelation. So my message is to get out and enjoy the wilderness, or as John Muir once said – make the mountain smile.