“I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled all over the world and taken every opportunity to go exploring, walking, and climbing.”
As a Boy Scout and then as a Military Officer and Aviator, Glyn Dodwell has 55 years of adventures under his belt. Based in the South Downs, he’s now an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion, and promotes the outdoors for the over 50s.
Hey Glynn - Tell everybody where you are based and what you do!
My name is Glyn Dodwell and I live in the heart of the South Downs National Park. After a 30 year career as a Military Officer and Aviator I now work in the online retail industry as an eCommerce specialist for an independent radio communications company. I only work part time now as I am running down to retirement.
In my spare time I can either be found somewhere in the Western Weald of the South Downs or exploring the hills further away. I have been an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion since 2017 and work with them to promote the outdoors for the over 50s. I am also a blogger running ‘Hill-Walking For The Over 60s’ and a social media user on Twitter and Instagram.
How long has the outdoors been part of your life?
I was born into an outdoors family; my parents were Scout Leaders, so the outdoors has always been a major part of my life. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled all over the world and taken every opportunity to go exploring, walking, and climbing.
I am now in my mid 60s and have absolutely no plans to give the outdoors up. OK, I may not be able to do what I did in my 20s but you adapt and this allows me to continue despite having arthritis, severe back pain, wrecked knee joints and had a mini stroke.
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
You are asking me to decide from 55 plus years of adventures! My earliest memory of a new adventure was an introduction to caving on a school trip. This opened a new world to me, and I became an active caver/potholer from aged 13 to 25 when an accident brought an end to that adventure!
Having travelled all over the world, I have had the opportunity to walk some of the great long-distance trails, many of these could be listed as my joint favourites.
However, the one I will go with was an opportune expedition into the Empty Quarter of Oman. I was on a 7 day lay over in Oman and decided to put together in impromptu trip into the Empty Quarter with a couple of friends. This culminated in the assent of the highest peak in Oman Jabel Shams.
How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities such as work and family?
This has been a struggle over the years as there have always been times when work or family had to come first. However, I was able to utilise the global travel of my job to enjoy new adventures.
I was fortunate that my first wife was also outdoor orientated (that’s how we met). So, when our children were born, they were put into baby carriers and taken on our long walks.
These days I split my time between my disabled wife, working part-time and the outdoors. I work in the office 3 days a week so the rest of the week I am at home. I tend to do most of my walking early in the morning as I enjoy the peace and quiet this affords. It also means my wife can have a peaceful lay-in which suits her condition.
Occasionally, I will go away for 2-3 days walking, and this again suits my wife as she can catch up on all the soaps and other TV shows I hate!
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
The word ‘inspired' or ‘inspirational’ is a very over-used and misunderstood word. We will say XXXX is inspirational because they did something great. To be truly inspirational, someone’s action must change or have a major impact on your life. For me to say I was inspired by Sir Chris Bonington or Sir Ranulph Fiennes would be a false statement because they have not changed the course of my life. I certainly look up to them though and admire what they have achieved.
However, except for my parents, there are two people who have inspired me because their actions, unbeknown to them, have changed my life. The first is Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the Scout Association. It was the opportunities I received by being a member of this great worldwide organization that moulded and nurtured the way my life would go. The skills I learnt would see me good for the rest of my life, even when I joined the military: I looked on it as being Scouting for pay!
The second was a man called John Gough or ‘Skip’. He was the man cooking the bacon over a log fire on the first morning of my first Cub camp. That smell brought a great joy to me as an 8-year-old as it does now. So, for me those two men were inspired my love for the outdoors
Do you find that spending time in the outdoors has a positive impact on your well being and mental health?
Without a doubt. We all know about the physical attributes of getting outside and regular exercise, but it is the impact it has on our mental health and general wellbeing that is not fully understood.
I was diagnosed with PTSD a year before I left the RAF and found out very quickly that the days I walked I felt happier, and more at ease with myself and everything around me. I slept better without the ‘dreams’. When I was not outside, I felt anxious, afraid, and desperate.
Even if you can get outside for just 15 minutes a day, it will do you a power of good. Even for those who do not suffer with mental health issues the outdoors still has its advantages.
We live in a fast and furious world where the demands of some jobs are immense. I find that after a few days of deadlines, complaints, and pressures of my job, going for a solo walk allows me to clear the detritus of daily life out of my head. It improves my thought processes and brings calm to a chaotic life.
What is it about walking that you specifically enjoy?
Fresh air, solitude, tranquility, exercise, and the chance to take the slow way home and enjoy all that surrounds us.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I first came across FINDRA on social media - I think it was an advert for headbands, which are my little passion. You will rarely see a photo of me without a bandana/headband and a pair of shades This led me to the website and finally here.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Always carry a map and compass and know how to use them.
Do you have a motivational or inspirational message to share with our followers to inspire them to get outdoors more?
Age or infirmity should never be a barrier to getting outdoors and enjoying the great British countryside. In fact, it’s the complete opposite! The benefit to your physical and mental health of being outdoor is immense and it is totally free!
Never be put off by images of youngsters doing ‘amazing’ and ‘wild’ feats of daring do, or the glossy advertisement images of walkers on craggy ridges. This is not what the outdoors is all about.
The outdoors is about accessibility and inclusion. You may have to restrict yourself to low level gentle footpaths, but these are some of the most beautiful in the country and what is more important is that you are outdoors.
Remember, once you pass 60 you are no longer required to act your age! And it’s better to be on the hill than over the hill.
You can find Glyn at:
Link Tree: https://linktr.ee/GlynGetOutside
Once Bitten by Nigel Vardy
I have been inspired by many books over the years from Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell to Everest the Hard Way by Chris Bonington. However, I will go with Once Bitten by my friend Nigel Vardy. This book shows the grit and determination to survive and recover from a near death experience and become one of the leading lights in the outdoor community and part of the new BecomingX project.
Bacon! Not so much a recipe but a food experience. My first ever night camping was through a huge thunderstorm. For me as a young 8-year-old it was an exciting way to start my outdoor life. However, it was in the morning that I was awoken to the smell of wood smoke and bacon being cooked by our Scout Leader. This smell, even today, takes me back to that inspirational morning 57 years ago.
Robert Baden-Powell the founder of Scout Association. The movement he created became the catalyst for my early outdoor adventures and inspired me and many generations since to have a love and passion for the outdoors. I was fortunate enough to have met his wife and daughter in the early 1970s.
Echoes by Pink FloydI have many favourite pieces of music which range from Mozart to Led Zeppelin. However, I will choose Echoes by Pink Floyd. As with much of the early music of Pink Floyd, it was very surreal and instrumental. This piece reminds me of the beauty and tranquility of the great outdoors and allows me to drift away in my own thoughts, something I do when I am out walking alone in the wilds.