4 places UK military history buffs must explore
The UK has a rich military history and over the years our armed forces have built many bases. Some remain in use to this day, while others have been re-purposed into tourist hotspots.
Blondes one and Two (Fi Darby and Lucy Atkins) work with teenagers through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and the Ten Tors Challenge -mostly on Dartmoor. Their blog has more than 4,000 views each month and has been nominated for five outdoor blog awards.
How does it feel to have been chosen as #GetOutside Champions?
It feels exciting to be among such prestigious champions. Plus we are thrilled to have a national opportunity to promote Outdoor Education in schools.
What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?
It means that we get to do more of what we love: to encourage people (particularly youngsters) to get outside. It also gives us the opportunity to encourage more people to join in with our forthcoming Dartmoor guided walks and navigation workshops.
What are the benefits to you of being outside?
Exercise; fresh air; the feeling of space and being able to leave daily worries and stresses behind.
What do you most enjoy about being outside?
Getting wet and mucky. Feelings of expertise and capability (the feeling that we did that). Sharing experiences with other like-minded people.
What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)
Dartmoor for sure, although maybe not the bogs!
What’s your best memory of being outside?
Seeing our students succeed after they have persevered through difficulties.
A particular example would be our current Young Leaders when their 55 Mile Ten Tors team crossed the finishing line. Also taking the same group of youngsters to the Isle of Man to complete their Gold DofE expedition. They made all the arrangements and raised all the funds themselves.
What’s your worst?
We have shared some sadness when students have not succeeded despite trying their best and persevering through adversity.
What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?
We once saw Father Christmas up at the Dartmoor Christmas Tree.
We sometimes mark students’ books sitting in a freezing cold, wet tent.
We have spent whole days taking pictures of Jelly Babies exploring Dartmoor.
What do you like about Great Britain?
Our footpath network and the rights of way which allows us access to all areas. It is only when you travel that you realise how lucky we are.
Our National Parks.
Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?
Dartmoor without a doubt.
Our favourite winter ‘escape work’ spot is The Dartmoor Christmas Tree (secret location).
What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?
Walking, navigating (‘finding things’), wild camping.
In one line, how would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?
Being outside never fails to make me laugh again when life seems tough.
When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?
We feel more confident and capable, and have a certain pride in what we are achieving (particularly when we are working with young people).
Why should people #GetOutside more often?
To feel the same benefits as we have.
To experience all that UK has to offer.
To step outside of themselves and see the bigger picture.
What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?
‘We’ll lend you some kit, let’s give it a go.’
Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?
The ministrations of our current government has meant that schools are only judged on exam results. This has resulted in a side-lining of extra-curricular activities including (sadly) Outdoor Education.
Too many other temptations e.g. computer games, the internet (not always bad), TV.
Sometimes people are a bit frightened of the outdoors; places like Dartmoor can be dangerous but there are numerous workshops etc. available like ours to ensure that people can access the outside safely. We Blondes are hoping to be more involved in this in the future.
What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?
A map and compass and some basic navigation knowledge.
A whistle and mobile phone to signal/call for help.
A survival bag (they are very cheap and easy to carry).
A sense of humour.
The understanding that it is okay to stop lots of times to admire the view when you are walking up a big hill.
What tips or pieces of advice would give to someone who wants to get more out of being #Outside?
Get some training or go with someone who’s experienced. There are numerous companies who offer training and guided walks. Contacting National Parks or Coast & Countryside Trusts would be a starting point.
Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey?
We Blondes are in awe of the cleverness of map-makers. We would love to spend some time with someone who is mapping Dartmoor to see how it is done.
We love exploring the detailed features that we find on OS maps. How else would we find ‘adits’, ‘memorial stones’ and ‘chy’s? (It took us a wee while to work out what a ‘chy’ is on a map, this was despite leaning on one while asking the question!)
Our collection of maps are among our most prized possessions. One day we are going to have a shared ‘map room’!
What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?
No music when we are out walking; but Blonde Two sings when she’s scared.
What are your backpack essentials?
Jelly Babies (for grumpy/tired moments)
A flask (hot drink not booze!) for companionable tea/coffee stops and also safety.
A map and compass for fun exploration and safety.
A bivvy bag/survival bag.
A first aid kit.
A whistle …
This list could get a bit long … which is why our packs are so shockingly heavy when we haven’t carried them for a while.
What’s your favourite food when you’re outside?
Jelly Babies (they are such cheeky little fellows!)
Mince pies at Christmas (eaten under the Dartmoor Christmas Tree)
Malt loaf (because it tastes just the same if it is squashed)
Frazzles (after extensive minibus research, we can confirm that Waitrose cheap bacon bites are the best).
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This sounds really corny but our Blonde lives wouldn’t be half the fun they are without Ordnance Survey maps.
Thank you for this opportunity and for all the ‘cairns’, ‘chys’ and ‘adits’ (maybe not some of the contour lines!)
So far, for us, our work outdoors has been voluntary and our Dartmoor blog a labour of love. We would like to continue this but are also hoping that being GetOutside Champions will help us to realise our plans to turn this from a ‘jobbie’ into a job.