The Great Glen Hostel just south of Invergary provided the location of the Walk Highland Autumn meet. I, along with around 30 others, attended for a two night stay. Taking over the hostel for the weekend, a fun time was had by all. Walk Highland, as many people know, is a fantastic website and a source of information for walks throughout Scotland. Many people use it for information on all sorts of walks from the Grahams to the Munros. People arrange to meet through the site and they have four organised meets each year.
I went along to my first Walk Highland meet in the Spring and really enjoyed it. I met lots of great people and had lots of fun, so thought I would go again and experience another Walk Highland meet. I was looking forward to the weekend and catching up with some friends again.
Weather was mixed with a little snow on top on the hills but it could have been much worse. I arranged to climb a Corbett with a few others. The day was quite challenging due to the lack of day light and as a result people tended to go quite fast in order to get back before dark. This I found really difficult because I simply can’t go as quickly as the others.
The weekend brought to my mind again some of the difficulties faced by disabled people in accessing the outdoors. The Scottish mountains are a challenging place for anybody and this is even more so in winter conditions. For disabled people like myself it is a particularly difficult thing to climb mountains in the snow.
I am inevitably slower than the average person which is not ideal when the daylight is so short. For disabled people it can be really difficult to get people to agree to go into the mountains with them in winter. People’s leisure time is limited and who wouldn’t want to make the most of it. I feel very lucky however to have found some great friends through the Walk Highland group who will make the time and allow me to go along with them. I had a really great day walking and a good weekend.
Having access to the outdoors is sometimes taken for gtranted. However for disabled people finding oppotunities to spend time in the wilderness can be more difficult. I was lucky enought to writte this article for Mountaineering Sotland Magazine and share a bit of my expereince.
The outdoors have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural East Lothian, I spent much of my childhood walking hills and beaches with my family. Having Cerebral Palsy of course could make things more challenging for me. My stamina and ability was not as good as it is now. However, I never saw this as something that might stop me but rather just made me more determined.
As I moved through my teenage years and into adulthood, my passion for the outdoors continued to grow. In my early twenties I discovered the Munros and during my time at University with the Hillwalking Society I managed to head out and begin Munro bagging. I would go out at weekends either with the club or with friends made through the club. It became clear quite early on that, much as I loved walking, I didn’t have the same energy and stamina as most of my contemporaries. When we climbed the mountains I would invariably have to descend earlier and walks would take me much longer than the average person. I didn’t seem to matter to the University society and I made friends with understanding, compassionate people who would accompany me hill walking.
My walking ability was never really a problem until well after I left university and settled again in Edinburgh. It was at that time I would approach mainstream clubs and try to find people to go walking with. It was then that I ran into difficulties and one that would continue throughout my adult life. Finding people and opportunities to go walking has been difficult and, so much so, I gave up mountaineering for many years. I got so frustrated at people’s lack of patience and lack of support from clubs that I really didn’t think I could put myself in that position any longer. I had resigned myself to the fact that the Mountains were not going to be part of my life. Before I knew it 20 years had drifted by but, unbeknown to me, I still had a spark inside me for the mountains.
I have rediscovered my passion for the mountains in recent times and I’m still hopeful of finding more open minded people to walk with. I was aware though that I could well come up against a similar range of problems that I had experienced all those years ago. Many of us live in quite pressurised times and individual leisure time is very precious. People want, and quite rightly so, to get the most out of the spare time that they do have, so spending a day walking at a slower pace is not very appealing. Disabled participation in outdoor sports is still relatively low, and that might be for reasons such as,
I think there is another aspect of people walking with disabled people just once, as if they have ‘done their bit’ but they would not make a regular commitment. There are still a lot of attitudinal barriers that prevent disabled people taking part in outdoor sport. For example
There can be no doubt that sporting opportunities for disabled people are improving and this is, in part, due to the success of the Paralympic movement and London 2012. There is, however, still a long way to go in terms of outdoor sport and mountaineering. It is here that clubs have an important role to play. Thankfully many clubs now have an equality or inclusion policy which covers all minority groups and not just disability. These policies try to insure that nobody is treated differently on the grounds of gender, race, disability or sexual orientation. In the case of disability however, and if there is some kind of physical impairment involved, such as in the case of disability, it is more complicated than just a change in attitude.
To include a disabled person in a mountaineering or walking club, its takes more organisation and planning. On club activity weekends for example, there could be volunteers who agree to walk at a slower pace to support those with disability. Club members could take turns at this so everybody shares responsibility. At committee level in a club there ought to be an equalities office bearer whose role is to ensure that everybody who wants to be, is included in the life of the club.
These are just a few ideas although with any social or leisure club, it is not good to impose rules of what people must do. However a balance has to be struck between this and club responsibilities. I hope to rekindle my walking career again. There are many more activities I’d like to achieve. I would like to climb more Munros and would like to experience staying out in a bothy in our beautiful wild places. I hope to find people to do that with who will share that experience with me.
Vango Roar Stove Review
I had been looking for a good, reliable and versatile stove for a long time but now I think the search is over. I’ve been testing out the Vango Roar stove and I’m really impressed with its performance. For me it seem ideal for my purposes and I know that lots of others could use it in different situations. It has won an Independant Best Buy award and it didn’t take me long to see why.
|First Impressions||A very nicely made stove. It folds up really small and fits into a container for travel. Its fairly lightweight making it idea for hiking. It connects really easily to a small gas cannister and has an electronic ignition. It boiled a pan of water in 2 -3 minutes.|
I am delighted to have discovered this little stove because for me it ticks many boxes. Having cerebral palsy makes me a bit shaky and clumsy. I was concerned about how safely I could used a hiking stove. The Vango Roar stove takes all these worries away. Its small and easy to carry but at the same time very stable. The way it folds in and out is fantastic making it really safe when in use. The electronic ignition makes it really easy to light and saves the danger of matches (although I would never go without them!). Its wide enough to take a large pan, making it suitable for more than one person. I was just amazed how quickly it boiled a pan or water. I think this is fantastic versatile stove and I would really recommend it for most outdoor expeditions and uses. Well done Vango.