A couple of years ago I did an interview for Mighty Goods which appeared on their website. Unfortunately, due to legal issues they are having to take down the interviews. I felt the interview was still valid as it shows the real me for what I am. So, I have brought it up to date and republished it here for your enjoyment.
My name is Glyn Dodwell, I am 63 years old and I run the blog Hill-Walking For The Over 60s. But I am not just a blogger, I lead from the front spending most of my spare time hill-walking on the lovely chalk downs of southern England and the mountains of Wales. My interests have changed much over the years though they have been prominently outdoorsish. In my teens and 20’s, I was heavily into caving, potholing and rock climbing as well as walking, camping, cycling and running. Today, I restrict myself to walking as whilst the mind might be willing the body certainly, isn’t!
I am an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion tasked with encouraging and inspiring people of all ages to get outside. I am also a brand Ambassador for Trekmates Outdoor Accessories.
How and why did you get into hill walking?
I have been a Hill Walker since I was a teenager when I spent most weekends on Exmoor, Dartmoor and The Brecon Beacons with the Scouts. In fact, I experienced my first night of camping when I was 10 years old in the middle of a major thunderstorm! My parents were both leaders in the Scout Association, so the outdoors was a way of life. Even family holidays were spent camping or caravanning. My childhood heroes were Chris Bonnington, Doug Scott, Joe Brown, Joe Tasker and Dougall Heston.
I have walked all over the UK, Europe & Middle East, particularly in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cumbria. Throughout my walking life, I have preferred the high ground to the lowlands and this passion continues. I have taught Hill Navigation, Mountain Craft and Survival Techniques to the Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
How do you prepare for your adventures?
I am not a streamlined, super fit mountain goat, far from it – I carry a few more Kg than I would wish and I had a mini stroke four years ago, I suffer from arthritis, chronic back pain and many ailments associated with a misspent youth partaking in extreme sports or having fun as it was called then!
How do you finance your adventures?
In order to finance my adventures, I work full time. I was very fortunate that for most of my working life, I served in the Royal Air Force and so travelled all over the world. This gave me access to most of my overseas adventures at a virtual zero cost. These days, I work in the eCommerce industry and this keeps me ticking over. I am also fortunate to receive gear for review and through sponsorship deals.
Because of where I live I have to travel in order to get onto the ‘real’ hills and mountains of the UK. As a result, I would say in an average year I would spend more on travel fuel than on equipment. With regard to how much I spend each year – that’s a secret as I do not want my wife finding out how much I spend!
How do you eat and sleep on the road?
Bearing in mind that I only walk on day trips these days I tend to eat lightly when I am out. I will always try and have a high carb breakfast but rarely eat whilst I am walking. If I am on a long walk – over four hours, then I will take some dried fruit and nuts. I also take with me Topherd protein snacks, which I only eat on the rare occasion that I get hungry. As far as drinking is concerned, I take my JetBoil and coffee bags in the winter months for warmth, but usually just water. Rather than carry large quantities of water when I am walking near natural water, I carry a Pure Hydration Aqua Pure Traveller bottle with its own built in filtration system.
Having spent most of my life in tents, I have now reached the age where I prefer the comfort of a nice warm bed. Therefore, if I am travelling away to go walking, whether it is the Lakes or Wales, I usually book a motel, guest house or occasionally I will use a Youth Hostel. I am trying to encourage older people to get outdoors not scare them off with the thought of having to go wild camping!
How do you bring your things with you?
Whenever I go walking, no matter how far it is, I always carry a ruck sack. Usually I use a Karrimor Hot Rock 30 sack. I have had one of these for about 20 years and have only recently had to replace it with the updated version because the shoulder strap finally broke. During the winter, I use an old Karrimor 50+10 ruck sack which allows me to pack a greater range of survival equipment (bivvy bag, stove rations etc.) and more spare clothing. It also allows me to carry my crampons and ice axe. The one thing that I am not, is a slave to fashion and trends. I don’t care if the latest ruck sack from the Acme Bag Co is the new kid on the block or the thing to be seen with. I know what I like and I stick with it.
How do you organize things in your bags?
When it comes to loading my bags, the process is simple. At the bottom is all the survival and emergency gear – that which I will never need to use unless all else has failed. Next it is the gear in the order that I think I will need to use it. If, for example, I think it might rain later, then the near the top will be the waterproof trousers. The upper most item will always be either a fleece or Goretex jacket depending on the time of the year and forecast. Water, snacks gloves, hat, compass and map etc. are always in the lid pockets so I do not have to access the bag to retrieve them.
How do your bags and gear hold up?
I learnt as a teenager the importance of keeping my gear dry and have always used waterproof bags. I have no preference on what waterproof bags I use and in most cases they tend to be whatever my sponsors have given me. If they don’t hold up they don’t get used again – simples.
Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?
When I started out all those years ago ruck sacks where made of heavy waterproof fabric on metal frames with very little consideration for comfort. The concept of transferring some of the weigh to the lower body via the waist support was an alien idea. Walking boots were made of heavy thick leather with very little ‘give’ in them. They had soles with dubious grip and some even had hob nails in them (go google that!). Trousers were heavy woollen breeches finishing at the knee and shirts were thick cotton affairs. The word technical hadn’t been invented yet. Is there anything I would have brought from the beginning – NO.
What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?
Over the years, I have lost count of the amount of gear I have had, yet there is not one thing that stands out above another. As technology has improved I have moved with the times and embraced the new tech. I suppose to be perfectly honest the best piece of kit (well two actually) I have bought for less than $100 are two pieces of kit I have carried for the past 50 odd years – a map and a compass. The adventurers permanent companions.
There is another piece of gear that I have, well to be truthful it is a piece of software. This is the Ordnance Surveys OSMaps software package and app. This is the best route planning software I have ever used. It enables you to route plan, show the route in 3D using google maps, allow the printing of maps up to A3 and to be able to download the route to the app on your smart phone or GPS device (Garmin). And this is just the start.
What is your best advice for other adventurers?
At a risk of climbing onto a soap box – one thing that really annoys me more than anything else when I am out on the hills is meeting people who are badly equipped and have no map and compass. The problem is, the National Parks make access to the hills too easy which is great but people get sucked into a false sense of security. This leads to accidents or overdue’s and eventually leads to the overstretched and underfunded MRT’s being called out. The best bit of advice I will give to ALL adventurers is get out there and educate, train and advise anyone you see on the hills who shouldn’t be there.
What will the future bring?
During 2017, I climbed the equivalent height of the three highest mountains in the world. A total height of 26045m or 85500 feet. In 2018 I am walked the equivalent distance of the length of the River Nile from Khartoum to the sea throughout the year. In 2019 I climbed the equivalent height of Everest to Hug Trig Pillars #HugATrig. I also started ticking off the long distant footpaths and way-marked trails of the South Downs National Park.
All I hope for is continued health and the ability to get outdoors, and when I can’t do this under my own steam, I hope for the technology to help and assist me in getting outdoors.
That’s a little bit about me, hope you enjoyed. How about telling me some about you?