What's What - The BlueDome guide to outdoor qualifications
Careers in the outdoors - a personal view
At the foot of this piece is an extract from Upon that Mountain by Eric Shipton. My copy of the book is a second edition printed in 1943 at the height of the second world war. The words are just as valid and valuable today.
My own career, which has allowed me to become the editor of BlueDome has been one of unplanned career changes, disasters and some unexpected success. One thing has been a constant and that is a love of the British landscape and the enjoyment of the outdoors. That will sound familiar to a lot of people who see working in the outdoors as a welcome change from the rat race. I don't know who said this but it rings true - 'even if you win the rat race you are still a rat!'.
My working career began as a technical photographer
with Hawker Siddely, makers of fine British aircraft with a tradition
that was founded by A V Roe whose factory I was now working in. Work
was good but a lot of time was spent in the darkrooms processing film
and prints. Too much time in the dark, something that is now in the
past as almost all photography, mine included, is digital.
My idea was to change jobs on a regular basis gaining experience and payrises along the way. Work came from chemical giants ICI where I worked with the Vymura wallpaper design team. British Telecom were also on the list and a few others too.
Time away from work always meant the bike, the boots,
the hills. When a car was obtained then Scotland and Wales became easy
targets of my visits to the outdoors.
My career proper in the outdoors, such as it was, came about thanks to the financial crash in the late Thatcher years. My business had to close or I would have gone bust and I found myself unemployed with few prospects.
A year off seemed like a good idea and a series of extended trips to the hills began. My interest in climbing was also fuelled and I began regular visits to a new climbing wall. After the occasional cup of tea with the owners I was asked to consider working for them. Firstly to help develop a climbing shop and then secondly to assist with group supervison.
After all those years working at something or other
I had stumbled onto what I really wanted, to work in the outdoor industry
doing something I loved.
The work took me into contact with some of the greats of the outdoors and some of the very ordinary people, from talented young people from private schools to working with young offenders who were trying to deal with their own difficulties. The most satisfying work came from assisting Manchester School for the Deaf and working with groups of disabled young people from Bridge College in Stockport.
After working at the centre for 6 years I was Headhunted and moved to the outdoor trade and at the same time started to plan an outdoors web site. The job was with a leading UK based distributor of outdoor equipment and allowed me to enter another level of the industry.
Sponsorship and donations of equipment brought me
to meet Sir Chris Bonington and Doug Scott. Mountain Rescue also became
an interest and I managed to film, photograph and fly with both the
RAF and Navy rescue services.
BlueDome is now my main activity and I find that every day brings something new. It may be an email from a reader asking for assistance or the chance to read a new book, visit a different part of the country or complain to anyone who will listen about this issue or that problem. Recruitment for outdoor companies is an important and growing part of BlueDome and we are constantly adding and expanding the information.
I feel that I have been amply rewarded by the time I have spent in the outdoors. The friends I have made are good ones and the enemies are pretty good too. I have kayaked on the rivers, climbed on the crags, biked across the tracks, flown over, sailed around and walked across this country and even when the weather was at it worst always managed to find something to enjoy.
If you think this is for you then go and do it. Dont end up sitting by the telly in your old age wishing you had!
David Lynch Editor - BlueDome