Planning a quiet day out on the hills these days is rapidly requiring additional planning - a check through the local event diary and magazines to find out if one of the many fundraising walks coincides with your plans.
In the height of one summer I spent many hours queuing to climb stiles on Ingleborough, after inadvertently become entangled with a large charity walk; so it was with a skeptical eye that I became involved with plans to organise a walk to raise funds for the local Mountain and Cave Rescue Team three years ago. Would we be accused of damaging the local environment, would we simply be generating more ‘clients’ for our services and would we simply develop yet another charity walk?
The first years walk was, inevitably, a circuit of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which regularly attracts swarms of people. We opted for a date when the weather would be kind and the days long, attracting enough people to raise over £3,000 for the teams funds. Not on the scale of a large charity, but a significant amount for a local Rescue Team and we sat back to contemplate our success, suddenly to find Christmas was with us and we had to start planning the following years walk. Could we improve the income and how could we develop our own identity to raise interest? There appeared to be more walks, on more dates throughout the following year, our individuality and local environmental conscience was debated; all of which influenced us to come up with a more radical alternative – winter conditions.
Planning stepped up a gear as we considered the extra logistics and planning we would require. The proposed walk would start well before dawn on a November morning and we would ensure that all walkers were on the final leg of the walk before dark arrived in the afternoon. Experience, navigation skills and the right equipment would be demanded and we knew this would limit the people to whom this would be attractive. In the event we attracted fewer people while raising a similar amount, but found people’s appetite to attend the following year was limited and knew we needed to again consider the options. Our voluntary group was still enthusiastic to continue our fundraising work, so we went back to the pub for another debriefing and started to plan this year’s walk.
The walk took place this year on the 5th of May and with a fundamental change started and finished in the village Clapham, the home of our Rescue Team. Why? We wanted to take people away from the same, over used paths on the higher peaks. We wanted to show them some of the best scenery in the Yorkshire Dales and we wanted to offer something for everyone. We provided two options: a shorter, family orientated walk taking in footpaths across dramatic limestone landscapes, bridleways and tracks. A longer, Marathon length route circumnavigating Ingleborough and the upper Ribble valley. Returning via bridleways, Austwick and the boulders of Norber.
What did we achieve? We didn’t increase income but we will persevere, we are a small group and our ability to inform and attract people cannot compete with larger charities. We did create something different, which doesn’t add to the crowds who repeat the same walk year after year. We gave people something new; new experiences which they could share with their friends and families whatever their abilities.
Will we be running the event in 2013? -You bet. Details will be provided on the Rescue Team website – www.CRO.org.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will keep you up-dated. The CRO is a voluntary team who provide Cave and Mountain Rescue, in and beyond the 3 Peaks and Malham area of the Yorkshire Dales. 80% of our work is helping walkers and the public out on the hills, a voluntary service run through charitable donations to the team. A service which is there to support everyone who uses our unique landscape.