The joys of winter
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The joys of winter

Nick Rhys, Senior Instructor/Education Account Manager at Outward Bound

As an instructor at Outward Bound, a question I get asked a lot is: ‘are you open all year?’ The answer is definitely yes! (well, apart from Christmas and New Year). And although it might not be immediately obvious, there are some significant advantages to coming on an Outward Bound programme during the winter.

1. Solitude

All our centres are in beautiful places. And beautiful places like the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia and the Lake District are very, very popular in summer.

The Lake District National Park alone has 19 million visitors a year. But in winter you can have a whole mountain, lake or forest all to yourself. The absence of other people really emphasises to participants the extraordinariness of what they are achieving.

2. Connectedness

Many of us spend a lot of our lives separated from nature. When you adventure in winter, this separation breaks down. If you are standing on a beach or mountainside in a storm there is a ‘felt connection’ with nature which is priceless.

Rather than being cosseted by man-made things, all senses are engaged, and this is a new and powerful experience for many people.

3. Starlight

Those who live in cities have never experienced true darkness. No lights, no cars, no buildings - just darkness and stars! This can be a profound and memorable experience. In winter, there is no need to stay up late, this experience is available every evening!

4. Beauty

Winter offers nature in stunning starkness. A view of snowy mountains sloping down to icy lakes is immensely beautiful. This beauty can be transformative and in my experience everyone (including ‘streetwise’ teenagers) notice and respond to this. This is definitely a ‘wow’ moment for them and a memory which will last forever.

5. Insta!

What more can we say? Adventures in winter always provide you with stunning images. Here's our Instagram for more inspiration.

6. Progression

Adventuring in winter is a great way for young people who have already done some outdoor activities to keep progressing and challenging themselves.

At Outward Bound we push all participants and when the weather is tough and it gets dark early; challenging more able young people in an authentic way comes naturally.

7. Resilience

At Outward Bound we are obsessed with learning from successful organisations and people. When we study them, one of the most consistent lessons is that successful people and organisations deliver all the time, even when things are NOT in their favour.

Being resilient enough to complete challenges in winter conditions is great preparation for succeeding in real-life and with all the stresses, strains and challenges it can bring.

8. Less ego

To succeed in winter you must work with nature. For example, if you try and complete a long canoe journey into a strong wind you will probably never complete it. But if you paddle with the wind behind you, this will result in an exhilarating, successful adventure!

At the heart of this is the truth that nature is more powerful than all of us and battling it will lead to our downfall. And remembering this may help us escape our current environmental emergency.

9. Finally - snow!

Everyone loves snow. Well, almost everyone!

Winter 2022 - Snowfall at Aberdovey
Snowfall at Aberdovey - Winter 2022

Further Reading