Introduction to Rock Climbing in the Peak District

Group at the rockface under instruction from from Dan Mckinlay

We had a fantastic weekend packed full of rock climbing and abseiling recently. Partnering up with Climb Alongside Mental Health, we descended on Lawrencefield in the Peak District to introduce some of our attendees to rock climbing outdoors for the first time. The weather was on our side for the whole weekend and allowed us to spend the entire day exploring two different areas of the crag. We bumped into other climbers from the community who were very welcoming and we even made friends with the local cattle as they popped in for a drink from the nearby pool.

Group climb in progress
Group climb in progress

On Saturday we were joined by Black Girls Hike – UK, an organisation dedicated to providing a safe space for Black women to explore the countryside with like-minded individuals, with an emphasis on well-being and sisterhood. Just 1% of National Park visitors come from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, in spite of making up 10% of the British population. A recent Sport England survey found that more than 16% of white people regularly participate in mountain walking, hiking and mountaineering, compared to just 2.6% of black people (source).


It was brilliant that we were able to meet some of the women from BGHUK and spend some time together, if you’re a member of the Black/Afro Caribbean community and feel like you might benefit from getting your walking your boots on and joining a group of like-minded women, you can check them out on their Facebook page.
Of course, it goes without saying that our doors are wide open to you, too.

Individual instruction with Stuart Wetherell
Individual instruction with Stuart Wetherell

Sunday was hosted by the incredible CAM climbing initiative. The team at CAM have worked incredibly hard to provide indoor rock climbing to anyone who feels that their mental health might benefit from getting involved in climbing – something we passionately support ourselves. With a number of climbing walls up and down the country now signed up to the initiative you can grab yourself a free introductory session at any of the participating walls and see for yourself what it is all about. In most instances this session will be coordinated with the help of your own GP. This is a fantastic achievement in itself, opening up conversations and discussions with health care professionals about the benefit of our green spaces is great work and a testament to the hard work achieved by Louise and the team. Visit the CAM climbing initiative and sign yourself up.

Attendee ascending the rockface

Lastly, we’d like to extend some gratitude and appreciation to our rock climbing instructors and supporting organisations from the weekend. The legendary Dan Mckinlay, Holly Peristiani, Stuart Wetherell, John Newbiggin and Anthony McCourt for demonstrating some real skills and assisting us in delivering in a great weekend. We couldn’t do the things we do without such an incredible community behind our mission; without the consideration and kindness of people like this we couldn’t make such a difference. And also to our friends and partners at Freeklime Huddersfield, BOREAL climbing shoes and our partners at the BMC for assisting.

Holly Peristiani, Dan Mckinlay and BDO's John Gale
Holly Peristiani, Dan Mckinlay and BDO’s John Gale

If you feel like your mental health is acting as a barrier to accessing these activities and you feel like you could use a little helping hand getting back out there, Blackdog events are designed for you. Fully insured, led by professionals and supported by MHFA qualified staff, we specialise in providing a safe and welcoming environment, full of like-minded people, where you can come along and enjoy yourself, learn about the outdoors and how best to access them, and meet some new people. Visit our website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to find out more and join our growing community.

BDO's Director, Andrew Higson
BDO’s Director, Andrew Higson
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