The best thing about the great outdoors is that it is there for everyone. And I mean everyone. It doesn’t matter what your age or ability, spending time outside is good for us all!
This week in my GetOutside Interviews series I am introducing Glyn Dodwell to you. Glyn runs a blog with the aim of encouraging those over 60 to spend more time outdoors – saying: “it is better to be on the hill – than over the hill”. Too true, Glyn!!
The GetOutside Interviews | Glyn Dodwell
Hi, my name is Glyn Dodwell and I am a 61-year-old living in the South Downs National Park on the border between Hampshire and Sussex. I have done a number of different jobs over the years, but my main career was as an RAF Aviator flying Nimrod Surveillance aircraft. I retired from the RAF in 2006 and since then have worked in the retail industry for Screwfix and Costa and now I sell radio communications equipment for Nevada Radio based in Portsmouth.
My interest is the outdoors started when I was 9 years old and attended my first Cub camp. On my very first night under canvas I experienced a massive thunderstorm then woke in the morning to the smell of bacon cooking over an open fire – I was hooked. Both my parents were involved in the Scout Association, along with myself, my two brothers and my sister. It will therefore come as no surprise that outdoor and adventure activities became a routine part of my upbringing.
At the age of 12 I was introduced to caving during a school trip to the Mendip Hills and a passion for this sport stayed with me through to my late 20’s when a knee injury brought an end to that episode of my life. However, caving was not my only interest at that time, most weekends I could be found climbing, abseiling, canoeing, sailing, camping or my long-term love walking.
Through my life in the RAF I learnt survival techniques, advanced navigation and took advantage of the opportunity to walk and climb all over the world. One of my favourite overseas expeditions was to the northern part of the Empty Quarter of Oman and climbing Jebel Shams (Oman’s highest mountain) in the Hajar Mountains.
I have very limited time available to walk during the week but try to get out for at least 30 minutes at lunchtime or in the evening. I spend most of my time walking at the weekends when I have time to really enjoy what I am doing. I do not like to be rushed anymore. When I was younger it was all about the speed and volume of the walking, now I like to stop and take photographs, look at the wildlife and listen to it. To really become at one with nature.
I am at my happiest when I am out walking, but age, arthritis and injuries have taken their toll. When I see the younger generation enjoying their ‘extreme sports’ I smile knowing full well the pain they will suffer in the future! However, I have never been one to let the odd stroke or ruptured disc to spoil my time outdoors… It might take me all day to do what I used to do all day but at least I do it.
For some reason I seem to have less time now than I did when I was younger to get outside. Maybe that is why my garden was always a mess when I was younger. Now I am finding I am having to spread myself more thinly and grab every precious piece of time outside that I can. Working full-time with a commute restricts serious walking time during the week and Saturdays are always reserved for my darling wife Mandi, shopping and domestic chores. However, Sundays are my time. Depending on how I feel I will either go out for a 2-3 hour walk or will plan a longer walk further afield.
I was very lucky as a young man to be surrounded by adults who loved the outdoors and were more than happy to pass on their skills and encourage me and others to take part. As I grew up and became a Scout and Youth leader I was able to start putting back-in what I had taken out. But that did not stop when I retired from the Scout and Youth Associations. As I approached 60 I saw many of my contemporaries getting their carpet slippers out and hanging their walking boots up. I also noticed that there was an apparent lack of encouragement or inspiration for the older generation to stay fit or even try and get fit.
On turning 60 I launched ‘Over Walking For The Over 60’s’ and started to encourage my generation to stay active or take up walking after years of inactivity. Alarmed by the growing risk of heart disease in the over 50’s and have suffered a mild stroke in my late 50’s. I took it upon myself to start the crusade against aged inactivity.
It was not too long after I launched the blog that I was selected to be an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion for 2017. I saw this as the ultimate recognition of what I had set out to achieve and it is this association with the OS that keeps me going when the pain kicks in. I know that as a collective we can and will succeed in getting more people active whether they be 6 or 60 years old it does not matter – age is not a barrier.
As I draw this piece to a close I feel it important to make clear that I have had a great life in the outdoors. I have experienced things I never thought possible and I have seen sights others can only dream of. But at the end of the day I am no different to any of you, I not a superhero, I am not immortal, I am just an ordinary guy with a passion for the outdoors – I Am Normal.
It is better to be on the hill – than over the hill!
Thank you Glyn for taking the time to tell us about your life and love of the outdoors. I admire you and your passion and you always inspire me.
And for more information about the Ordnance Survey GetOutside campaign, you need to be here.
If you are feeling inspired by my friends, please drop us a line to let us know – sharing the love is always good.