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A review of Weathering by Ruth Allen

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I was privileged to be invited by Rhyme and Reason booksellers in Hunters Bar Sheffield to Ruth Allen’s launch of her new book Weathering (Ebury Press, 2024). The book is an endorsement of the use of the outdoors in therapy and so is relevant to one of the core services of Open Gates Outdoors - life coaching in the outdoors.  The launch itself was a very pleasant evening drinking Moonshine while listening to the engaging conversation between the poet Helen Mort and Ruth. I was particularly interested in Ruth’s argument that erosion, or weathering, in nature is a positive process that leads to the growth and health of the landscape and this can be used as a metaphor for aging, or weathering, in people, ie it needn’t be seen as a negative transition. Having read the book there are other arguments made by Ruth that interest me. During the book launch it was observed a couple of times both from the audience and from Ruth’s interviewer that Ruth’s style is very lyrical. I totally endorse th

Case Study of Open Gates Outdoors walk - Roundabout Limited

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Open Gates Outdoors – Roundabout Hostel Walk  Case Study On Tuesday 5 th  March, we had arranged with George Yates from Open Gates Outdoors to take some of our Young People on a lovely walk in the Peak District. It was perfect weather, and everyone was in good spirits. Rachel one of the Project Workers attended along with three Occupational Therapy Students to gain better experience working with young people. Four of the young people attended, which included Mason, Ahmed,  Dimitrii , and Stephanie.  George arrived at the hostel at around 11am and had a chat with the young people before heading over to the mini bus used to take us to the Peak District. The area we went to was called Frogga t t  E dge, and provided us with fantastic views all around. It was a sunny day, which meant it didn’t get too cold, and we could see the beauty of the countryside.  George was very knowl edgeable about the surrounding area, providing great bits of information along the way keeping us all chatting. Th

Grief, Nature, and Exercise....What’s the Connection?

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This Blog has kindly been contributed by Zoe Williamson who runs an online grief support service. You can find out more about Zoe and her work at   https://www.my-goodbye.co.uk Grief, Nature, and Exercise....What’s the Connection? When experiencing emotional distress, we are often encouraged to spend time in nature to help us recover a state of equilibrium. It is also well documented that physical exercise releases the endorphins which can help calm anxiety. It seems probable then that combining these two concepts into the practise of regular outdoor exercise could help in managing the challenges of mental ill-health. But could this hypothesis be extended to the significantly challenging task of recovering from a traumatic bereavement? Yes, it could; the benefits for bereavement care are borne out not just by anecdotal evidence, but also by systematic research. Exposure to wildlife provides a meaningful and concrete reminder of the natural cycle of life and death. It helps us co

Each group kept strictly to its own hut...

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For a long time I have enjoyed visiting shooting huts in the more remote areas of the High Peak. These are not to be confused with shooting butts, the smaller trench like features cut into the hillside in lines from which shooters will take aim. The huts I'm talking about are cabins big enough to accommodate upwards of 15 people for lunch and refreshment during a grouse shoot. Most of them are 19th century constructions.  Inside of Oyster Clough Cabin showing basic comforts (flowers and fairy lights not standard) Shooting huts are special places for their locations, the basic but charming nature of their furnishings (if any), and the stories they would be able to tell. I don't claim to be the first to enjoy the romance of huts and cabins in the Peak District and they are the subject of a Country Diary in the Guardian in 2020 www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/27/country-diary-cabin-fever-on-the-moors Shooting huts are also symbols, maybe to become relics, of social hierar

Moving statues

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Statues are not history "because they are always silent about the victims" and are erected "by a tiny male elite." This is the argument of David Olusoga in response the the government's "retain and explain" policy towards statues. Whereas the government urges town planners to retain statues but put them in historical context, Olusoga argues controversial statues should be removed as they only give one side of history.   Several statues in Sheffield have been moved from their original positions but, rather than being removed entirely as Olusoga would urge, they have been put in an alternative location, usually in parks. This was often done in the mid 20th century when increased vehicular traffic meant that some statues were presenting a dangerous obstruction to sight lines and traffic flow. Perhaps the best known example is the statue of Queen Victoria  (above) presently at the Hunters Bar entrance to Endcliffe Park. This statue was designed by Alfred

An alternative approach to being outdoors

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On 29 September 2023 Open Gates Outdoors led a walk as part of the World Wide Wander organised by Street Wisdom. Street Wisdom describes itself as an international social venture which brings experiential learning to city streets the world over. It was founded by David Pearl with the aim of transforming city streets into inspirational learning zones.  Street Wisdom attracts me in part because its mission aligns very much with that of Open Gates Outdoors in three ways. First it aims to support people to use the outdoors to improve their wellbeing, in particular those to whom it might not naturally appeal. Second it aims to provide outdoor experiences to these groups for free, funded by the proceeds of providing beneficial outdoor services to corporates for a commercial rate. Thirdly, like Open Gates Outdoors, Street Wisdom appreciates the value of walking in an urban setting as much, perhaps even more than, walking in a rural setting. However Street Wisdom also fascinates me because of

A Quality Mountain Day

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As part of their training and their continuous professional development after qualification Mountain Leaders in the UK are required to complete and log a certain number of quality mountain days ("QMD") a year. What makes a QMD? Mountain Training who are responsible for ensuring that mountain leaders are properly qualified and experienced basically defines a QMD as a day in one of the mountainous areas of the UK that lasts at least 5 hours, takes in a top, includes some off path walking and includes elements of navigation skills. So it was that me and my friend Dan set off from Capel Curig on 9 September 2023 aiming to bag a QMD on Moel Siabod following the route shown above. This blog gives a summary of the day and I will leave it to you to decide whether Mountain Training would consider it a QMD. This blog will also give you a flavour of what a day's guided walking with Open Gates might be like - except for the emergency rope work bit! The first 2km of the route was on m