Representation for hillwalkers in England and Wales is set to receive a boost with the appointment of the British Mountaineering Council's first ever dedicated hill walking development officer. The main aim of the new role is to provide information and advice to budding hill walkers, and to the many members for whom this is their main activity.
It is hoped that this new position, funded by Sport England, will solidify the BMC's support for hill walkers. It follows feedback in the latest BMC membership survey which found that for 62% of members hillwalking was their primary mountain-related activity.
Carey Davies, previously assistant editor at hillwalking mag TGO, has navigated his way into the BMC office to take on the role.
'It's an exciting prospect to start a new job' he said, 'particularly one which has never been done before! I'm the first BMC officer to be dedicated to developing and promoting the work the organisation does for hill walkers.'
'A lot of people have the impression that the BMC is an organisation for climbers alone but so much of the work it does benefits hill walkers too. The BMC was instrumental in securing the right to roam provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, granting walkers the freedom of upland areas in England and Wales. You have probably trodden on footpaths maintained to a high and sympathetic standard with the help of the BMC's conservation work. The BMC is literally fundamental to the ground you're walking on! And don't forget those indispensable British Mountain Maps developed by the BMC in conjunction with Harvey Maps, or the insurance services it offers that specifically cater for hill walkers and trekkers.'
'A lot of people have the impression that the BMC is an organisation for climbers alone but so much of the work it does benefits hill walkers too'
'Nevertheless,' Carey continued, 'there is huge scope for expanding the work the BMC does for hill walkers – watch this space as there will be new projects, promotions, campaigns and events to draw more hill walkers into the fold and help develop our hill walking-focused work. A big part of my role will be to publicise this work and get the message across to hill walkers who don't already realise - the BMC is for you too!'
Carey will be kept busy writing for the website and Summit magazine, organising walking meets and events, cultivating partnerships with other outdoor organisations and helping publicise what the BMC does for walkers through articles, video and social media. He'll also oversee continuation of the BMC's partnership with Harvey maps.
In the meantime the BMC are very keen to hear your views, whether a member or not. What do you think the BMC could do better for hill walkers? And if you're not already a member, what would persuade you to join?
You can contact Carey here.
And in case you still thought the BMC were just for climbers, here's a top-12 list of stuff they already do for hillwalkers in England and Wales (and that's before Carey even starts in his post):
1. Funding projects which benefit hill walkers through the BMC's Access & Conservation Trust (ACT). For example, ACT helped fund recent footpath restoration projects in the hugely popular Yorkshire Three Peaks area, the Peak District and the Black Mountains.
2. Providing a voice in Parliament on any hill walking matter through the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mountaineering. For example, a recent House of Commons adjournment debate saw MPs discuss and acknowledge the economic value of hill walking to the rural economy.
3. Instrumental in securing the right to roam provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) and will continue to promote interests of hill walkers in the decadal review of CROW maps.
4. Keeping pressure on DEFRA and Natural England to continue to roll out new access provisions around England's coast, as set out in the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA). These will create a coastal access corridor, giving everyone the right to roam on our long and beautiful coastline.
5. Working with Friends of the Lake District National Park to support plans to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, which Chris Bonington has described as 'a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to extend the boundaries of both the Lakes and Dales to what they ought to have been 60 years ago.'
6. Working with the Sport & Recreation Alliance and the Forestry Commission on better access to private woodlands in England.
7. Working with the Snowdonia Society on the annual litter clear up of Snowdon.
8. Supported the creation of the all-Wales coastal footpath and will continue to campaign for improved access to the Welsh coast. The BMC believes that as a minimum there should be open access to a coastal corridor not just a linear coastal footpath.
9. Working with the Cambrian Mountain Society to call for greater protection to the vast undeveloped hills of Mid-Wales, in particular to oppose plans for a large wind farm and associated overhead cables on the flanks of the highest mountain in mid Wales – Plynlumon
10. Supporting the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) on the Britain on Foot campaign to encourage British people to get active in the outdoors.
11. Producing regular hill skills content for the BMC website and Summit magazine; free publications such as green guides and the New Hill Walkers booklet; and the series of British Mountain Maps in conjunction with Harvey maps.
12. Membership benefits including 10% discount in over 600 outdoor shops and access to BMC Travel Insurance specifically tailored to hill walkers.