Welcome to another “On the hill with…” Lis Bloor, who says “there are no Everest ascents or big stuff…just a girl with a passion for the hills who loves adventure”. Perfect…read on
How did you get into walking and the outdoors?
From a family of couch potatoes I never realised the awe, grip and beauty that adventures in the great outdoors held. My first overnight trip was to The Children’s Inn in Rowarth camping with the Brownies. I was the first on the coach, the excitement building up inside me, my mini rucksack packed with a torch and midnight treats! I got involved in The Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme through school with regular hikes up Kinder, Bleaklow and hills in the Peak District, learning how to use a map and compass and gaining my Gold D of E. I joined MDOC and developed my micro navigation skills, often getting disorientated and having a love / hate relationship with contour features. My first teaching job was in Wythenshawe and I would regularly take a group of primary aged kids to orienteering events or up Kinder at the weekend. I remember someone asking me if all the ten children in Cooper’s café drinking hot chocolate after a Kinder stomp were mine!
An advert for a secondment for primary school teachers working at an outdoor centre in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales caught my eye. The focus was on hill walking and caving. Even though my only caving experience was in show caves in Castleton I decided to apply. There was a 2 day interview and the first part involved 4 hours pot holing, wriggling through tight squeezes with my face half covered in water. I loved it, but 50% of the candidates did not and withdrew from the interview. I loved my time at Ingleborough Hall introducing mountain tops, exploring caves, and helping inner city kids enjoy their first experiences of the countryside. During my secondment I was able to go to Plas-Y-Brenin to do my ML, developing my skills further.
How did you come to join the RC?
I was in at the deep end meeting new people in The Rucksack Club. As Andy Howie’s new partner and at the start of his stint as president, I helped organise and support Andy at the annual dinner in Llanberis. It felt like planning, hosting and partying at a wedding but I met lots of great folk with interesting tall tales of adventures they’d had and those to come. I went on lots of different meets discovering new areas and mountain summits, highlights included the Edale-Marsden [supporting a struggling member off the hill at 2am], Sun Rock meets [cooking fresh lemon risotto for 36 and it taking 2 hours to zest and squeeze the lemons!] and a winter Welsh 3000’s [with some wild winds and white out moments!]
What does the perfect ‘hill’ day consist of?
Each time I’m in the hills I get a sense of tranquillity, escapism and time to recharge. Whether that be a week in The Lakes or the west coast of Scotland or just a quick stomp up Lantern Pike behind my cottage before work. The weather, navigational challenges, and boggy routes are just a part of the experience. I love fresh, crisp snowy mountains with a pure blue sky, endless views in the Lakes where I can try and name each summit, and dark starry nights having to use my map and compass. My camera or phone camera are always in my pocket and I love capturing the light early morning or at dusk changing the landscape. Mainly with friends or my son H, but sometimes on my own, the hills always have a draw and leave me wanting to return.
What have been your most memorable days out?
There are so many memorable days with H and friends that I’ll do a photo fly-by of a few…
Santander to St Malo, wild camping by bike with Andy. We found, by accident, an old fishing harbour that had a pop up oyster bar with lashings of cold white wine and a guitarist to sing along with. This is the sunset that accompanied our evening.
The Jura fell race, a brutal race of 7 tops including the 3 Paps of Jura with boulders the size of fridges that move! The whole event starts by island hopping by bike across various Scottish Islands then wild camping on the beach at Corran Sands after a crazy ceilidh after the race!
Have you had any mishaps in the ‘hills’ and, if so, what’s been the worst?
One mishap that springs to mind was on a Rucksack Club navigational challenge. H [aged 10] and I teamed up for the long score and it was a particularly soggy and claggy day. We spent a bit too long in thick mist on top of Grey Friars and then headed down the direct route to the base of Dow Crag. We were, or probably I was, on a mission to squeeze as many points as we could in and so stormed off to the next control. I lost H in the mist somewhere en route and had an hour of ‘my heart in mouth’ moments searching for him!
What makes a great ‘hill’ partner? Has anyone come close?
With a busy professional +/- family life, how do you manage to keep active in the hills? With not many ‘get outs’ H has been dragged along on many Rucksack Club meets, up plenty of hill tops and a few cycle tours, climbing and abseiling trips. At first it involved hidden sweets along the way but when he was 12 he asked if he could complete all the Wainwrights before his 16th birthday. 4 years sounds a long time but with weekends taken up with drama rehearsals that left only school holidays. We had a great time discovering new summits in The Lakes and completed 211 tops with 3 months to go before his 16th. Unfortunately I had a brain haemoarghe and his goal of finishing before his 16th was squashed. Lots of mates volunteered to accompany H but he insisted that he’d wait till I was well enough so that we would complete them together.
What have been the benefits of RC membership?
A huge variety of meets to throw myself in to, hopefully with more opportunities now H is off to uni! All full of banter, stories and sometimes too much beer! Meeting lots of new like-minded folk to inspire me with new wilderness places to explore. Indoor meets and even virtual meets again to discover places I’d like to visit. Not forgetting the huts, especially High Moss, where I’ve had many happy holidays with friends and family, building dens in the woods near Fickle Steps, H jumping off Birk’s Bridge, gorge walking in the rivers and many more fabulous times. Though I don’t think I should have said to Harry, aged 6, that he could go and explore as far as he wanted as long as he could see the hut, that could have been a H on top of Caw!!
What future ‘hill’ plans do you have?
A 3 day Paddy Buckley?
A 3 day Ramsey Round?
A 2 day Joss Naylor?
The Great North trail, Peak District to John O’Groats?
Euro Velo North Sea Cycle Route?
So many choices, but there will always be something exciting me. It might be at my pace, my level but always with good company, great views and a surprise or 3 along the way.