Cover image: Hiking in the Gwydyr Forrest above Betws y coed. Accessible, yet still with solitude and a feeling of remoteness, Llyn Elsi is a haven for wildlife, and one of my favourite places in North Wales. Note the Oboz Sawtooth Low hiking shoe! A great choice for this trip! All images: Paul Anderson
British ambassador Paul Anderson might earn his living as a marketing manager for a global software company, but he measures his success by the amount of free time he spends in the outdoors. An avid walker, hiker, angler, and, occasionally, survivalist, he’s keen to develop relationships with like-minded people through social media. Find him on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram for a glimpse into his adventures.
In his application, Paul wrote, “The whole ethos of my outdoors life is based around bushcraft principles: having a respect for the environment, continually learning from nature, leaving no trace of my presence, and learning about and utilizing natural resources in a harmonious manner.”
We asked him to introduce himself to you and tell a bit about his recent adventures. Here’s what he said.
I walk my two Labrador dogs, Cooper and Toby, twice a day round a 3-mile woodland circuit here in the Chiltern Hills. My wife and I also holiday three times a year in Snowdonia in northwest Wales, which is where I first came across Oboz footwear last year, though a retail outlet called Cunninghams Outdoors(I have since been wearing the Sawtooth Low's, which have completely restored my faith in outdoor footwear!)
I regularly spend time in my local woodlands filming, tracking and wild camping, and I am planning 12 (one per month) micro adventures across the country, with Cheddar Gorge, The Peak District, The Shropshire Hills, Scottish Highlands 500 Mile Circular drive already in planning. Inevitably, the highlight of 2017 will undoubtedly be my wife and I taking a 2-week crossing (West to East) of Canada to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.
I believe in no-frills integrity and honesty. In my world, there is no such thing as work/life balance. There is just one life that needs to find balance in all elements.
Where to next?
March found me taking a mountain relevant Canine First Aid course in Snowdonia, with plenty of hiking around Betws y coed across the weekend. Many of us choose to include our furry friends on our adventures. But how many of us know how to properly approach and control an injured pooch, dress a wound, perform emergency resuscitation, or indeed an extraction from remote areas?Bert the dog, bandaged after receiving a head wound! No actual real dogs were harmed during this Canine Mountain First Aid Course!
A moody looking sky rolls in across Alwen Reservoir. The weather in Snowdonia can change within minutes, from nice and sunny to wet and windy. You need to have complete confidence in your kit and equipment here!
Next up was a trip to the Shropshire Hills for a weekend of walking with my buddy, Greg. We regularly set off for the day to explore the surrounding Chiltern Hills and Cotswold areas, but with an entire free weekend opening up in the calendar, we decided to take this trip to a beautiful area of the country.
And to close out March, my wife and I returned to Snowdonia to undertake a more advanced level Navigation Course with one of the UK’s top outdoor skills centers. Most smart phones on the market can access mapping, compass and route planning apps, and dedicated satellite navigations devices are certainly a lot more affordable these days, along with the mapping bundles that they display. Navigation in this terrain can often be difficult, with weather restricting visibility. Leaving an area safely when conditions deteriorate is occasionally necessary, North Wales can be a rugged and unforgiving place to get lost!
However, electronic devices can fail, run out of juice, get dropped into rivers and streams. There is a widely accepted opinion that when walking in remote areas, a map and compass (along with a spare kept in the pack!) and the ability to use them properly, is a best practice that should always be followed to enhance ones enjoyment and safety outdoors.
Preparation is Key
As with the vast majority of skills, they are generally perishable, so practice is required. Even the best-laid plans sometimes need to be changed due to inclement weather for example, and the ability to safely navigate oneself from potentially tricky situations is not to be underestimated. There is an old phrase “Fail to prepare, prepare to Fail” We will be doing some much more remote travelling towards the end of the year (no spoilers yet!) so in the spirit of making sure we are ready, the training comes in early with plenty of practice to follow