We need to talk about Hillwalking

The power of #slowadventure

Hillwalking. Just walking in the Hills, together. Boots on, pack some spare layers, food, a flask, suncream (yes, sometimes!), a drink and a map. Choose your peak and away you go.

“How long will it take?”, “How far is it?”, “I don’t like walking!”, “I can’t do that!”, “That’s too far/long/high!”. We’ve heard the many varied reasons why hillwalking is not the number one priority for the average 10 – 14 year-old a thousand times or more; and we get why too. It doesn’t have the same appeal as it’s more exciting counterparts such as jumping off waterfalls, surfing or whizzing downhill on a mountain bike. But that’s ok, because Hillwalking is not those things and the potential outcomes are not the same either.

It is very easy to understand that getting to the top of the Leap of Faith will take you into your stretch zone, build your confidence and make you better able to take on many of life’s challenges. However, spending the day tackling the longer, slower adventure of Hillwalking brings deeper rewards that take some time to bake-in; and boy are they worth it!

Resilience

The type of resilience you have to find to tackle a Hill or Mountain is different but essential. It is far more akin to the type of resilience that life in general will require of you. It’s about the journey, not the destination. One foot in front of the other, taking each slope, step and challenge as it comes. Without a doubt, Hillwalking develops an individual’s sense of what it means to be in it for the long haul but with a growing sense of possibility too.

The value of preparation

Did you prepare properly? Did you plan ahead and do your best to think of all the things that you may need on your journey? If you did, then you and your team will make progress at a good pace. If not, you will be sure not to make the same mistake again! This is experiential learning at its best.

Deeper connections to wild places

You don’t have to head up a hill for this but we defy anyone to spend a few hours in the hills without developing a greater understanding and connection to the environment. This in turn fosters a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for maintaining the natural world.

Teams before star players.

To get to the top of a mountain as a team means thinking about your teammates needs in a much broader sense. No one gets left behind (or allowed to sprint ahead!) and you can only move at the pace of the slowest member. The mutual support and connectedness that teams develop during a hill day helps them understand the value in sticking together and caring for everybody.

A different sense of achievement

It may be the view from the top, the realisation that you CAN do it, or reflecting on the day after a warm shower and hot meal. Whenever the insight comes, almost everyone tells us they feel a huge sense of achievement after completing a challenging day in the hills. That feeds an individual’s sense of well-being in a deep and nourishing way.

Hillwalking sometimes only gets a look-in on a schools program of chosen activities as a back-up when weather prevents us accessing certain more popular adventures. However, when this happens the feedback is almost always the same. Students tell us it was one of their favourite things for all the reasons listed above and staff tell us the same. On top of this, the bonding that takes place by just walking and chatting is just so welcome in an age where we are digitally divided.

So this is a call to arms to get some #slowadventure in your program. You won’t regret it; and it’s never as far as you think 😉