The latest Mountain Rescue statistics indicate that the vast majority of incidents last year involved people who were either lost, or had sustained an injury because they were not following their intended route. Hill-walking instructor, Kevin Walker, explains why, and offers a simple solution.
Why would anyone want to spend an entire afternoon on the verge of panic, becoming increasingly tired and irritable as their “pleasant stroll” turns into a nightmare trek? Yet that is precisely what happens to a growing number of people every weekend when they go walking without sufficient forethought. Most eventually get home safely, but an unlucky few become rescue statistics.
In essence, walking is the simplest of pastimes – as simple as putting one foot in front of the other – yet we appear to have become bewitched by the supposed convenience of modern gadgetry. Paradoxically, this headlong rush to make life easy has actually resulted in it becoming harder, because it causes us to ignore the basics. Hence many mountain rescue teams are spending increasing amounts of time assisting people who have relied on GPS devices and mobile phone apps at the expense of more traditional methods of navigation. The problem is that gadgets cannot think for themselves!
Kevin Walker, director of long-established Wales-based outdoor training business, Mountain Activities, has strong views about such things. “People like the idea of electronic gadgets because they believe traditional navigation is complicated;” he said, “yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is often the gadgets that make life more complicated because they cannot react to what is going on around them with any form of intuition.”
Kevin is convinced that, given the correct approach, traditional navigation techniques are far simpler and more reliable than modern technology. “We need to get back to basics,” he said. “It’s what I call the KISS principle – Keeping It Short and Simple. In order to enjoy walking safely, all we need are a few simple skills and an appreciation of distance. In essence, we need to understand the environment through which we are travelling.”
People joining Kevin’s popular hill skills courses in the Brecon Beacons are introduced to the KISS principle right from the start. “It makes everyone’s life easy,” he said. “It gives people confidence and allows them to enjoy their walking far more than would be the case if they were glancing at their GPS or smart phone all the time.”
In any event, it is far more pleasurable to KISS… and it is far more reliable than an app!
Further details are available online at www.mountain-activities.com