Black Dog Outdoors is managed by a small team of volunteers. We all share similar interests, which include climbing, walking, paddle sports, biking, and the outdoors in general. We’re also extremely passionate about the promotion of outdoor exercise to improve mental health and wellbeing.
We have a wealth of experience between us, which covers a wide range of outdoor disciplines, and we’re here to help. If you need any advice on how to get started outdoors, what equipment to buy, or you need pointing in the right direction, then please drop us a line via e-mail or our social media networks. We look forward to hearing from you!
MEET THE TEAM
Andrew Higson – Director (and Event Leader)
I’m a keen mountaineer and climber with experience of UK mountaineering in all seasons, as well as expeditions to climb in the Swiss, Italian and French Alps, and to the summit of Mount Elbrus. I’m a qualified Mountain Leader and I am a member of the Mountain Training Association, Mountaineering Scotland, and the British Mountaineering Council.
I’m also a qualified Mental Health First Aider and passionate about promoting the benefits of outdoor activities and a reconnection with nature.
John Gale – Operations Manager (and Event Support)
I am a keen rock climber. After discovering my passion for the sport 6 years ago, whilst trying out a local climbing wall, I have since attended various training schemes and am currently working towards the Rock Climbing Instructor award through Mountain Training. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy climbing across the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Corsica.
I have a background in local youth and community projects including youth festivals and fundraising for local sport facilities. After recently returning from 6 months climbing in Spain and being forced to take several months out with a degenerative back problem, I am keen to help bring other people into the world of Outdoor Adventure and all of the benefits that it brings.
Lynne-Marie Dale – Paddle Sport Coordinator
Hi everyone, I’m the one that can always be found on or in the water!
The idea of sitting in a kayak or Canoe, on rivers, lakes or canals and just enjoying the blue space around us is something I feel very passionate about. I am a British Canoeing qualified Paddlesport Coach based in Yorkshire, a REC level 3 First Aider and Mental Health First Aider. I also run Yorkshire Sea Kayakers, travelling around the country to explore the coastline that surrounds this beautiful island we live on.
I spend all my spare time paddling or coaching on our rivers, canals, lakes and coasts, and I love introducing people to paddlesport, supporting those initial tentative paddle strokes then seeing the relaxation wash over us as we pootle along and chat while looking out for Otters and Kingfishers on the rivers or Seals and Dolphins on the Sea.
Meg Iley – Event Leader
I really like playing outside. I’m a qualified Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor with experience of mountaineering in the Alps. I recently moved to North Wales, with the long-term goal of working towards my Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor award. Here I also dabble in wild swimming, paddling and running. One time, I even rode a bike.
I currently work in a crisis response home, providing outdoor activity-based placements for young people in care. I love my job, and believe that the outdoors is an incredible environment for developing confidence and self-esteem, as well as having real therapeutic benefits; however I am currently working in Iceland to experience that incredible place.
Scott Robertson – Event Leader
I have been been riding bikes in the hills for as long as I can remember, and that freedom and escapism is what drives most of my adventures, whether that is on a road bike, mountain bike, or with a set of mountaineering boots on.
I am a qualified Mountain Leader, Mountain Bike Instructor, Rock Climbing Instructor, climbing coach, and I am working towards becoming a Mental Health First Aider. I like nothing more than enthusing about why I do this to anyone who will listen.
I am also proof you can combine the stresses of an office job alongside a career in the outdoors.
Felicity Kettle – Event Leader
I’m a qualified Mountain Leader, a member of the BMC, volunteer for the MTA, train and access Duke of Edinburgh, and am part of the Lakeland Mountain Guides team…. basically I’m totally obsessed with our mountains in the UK!
I love heading out for a family adventure day, usually in Snowdonia as we’re lucky enough to have a base near Beddgelert. We have such a beautiful country that can give us freedom, not just physically, but mentally too. The benefits of outdoor adventures are powerful and rewarding… so time to start exploring!
Alan MacKay – Event Leader
I am a qualified Mountain Leader through Mountain Training, a member of Mountaineering Scotland, The British Mountaineering Council and the Mountain Training Association.
I tutor and assess the Lowland Leader Award and can also be found leading groups on Ben Nevis. Being in the hills is very important to me and I know how positively this can impact on mental health. I enjoy sharing my love of the hills, especially with newcomers, and look forward to sharing this passion with others.
Ian Holden – Event Coordinator & Mental Health Lead
I had an ‘Epiphany’ in 2017. Following a bout of insomnia I decided at 0500 one morning that I was going to climb Kilimanjaro. Knowing I was totally unprepared I asked Andy Higson to help me by accompanying me up Snowdon. The experience in 50mph winds and horizontal rain should have put me off for life; however it has had the opposite effect and I now try to get in a hill at least once a month. My health and well being has vastly improved. I’ve lost over two stone in weight and I’m now even planning to run my first ever half marathon shortly before my 50th Birthday. I can’t sell the benefits of being outdoors enough.
I’ve recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider at work and actively promote Outdoors as a therapy. Kilimanjaro became a reality in Oct 2019 – ‘Climbing Mountains not Making them’. I’m also working towards my Mountain Leader award through Mountain Training.
Adam Thistlethwaite – Event Coordinator
I have been in love with the outdoors since childhood starting with hill walks in the Dales with my father to now working towards the Mountain Leader award through Mountain Training.
I am an experienced mountaineer, finding my biggest pleasure and challenge from Scottish winter routes and long mountain days in the Lake District and North Wales. I have experience of Alpine and Icelandic glacial walking and cross-country skiing, as well as mountaineering in the Alps.
Ceira Maclachlan – Event Support
Having grown up living on the fringes of the Lake district I have always enjoyed getting out and about in the Lakes as well as enjoying the great outdoors further afield, such as North Wales and Scotland. Usually you’ll find me out and about accompanied by my four legged wingman. For me nothing beats the feeling of achievement and being on top of the world once you’ve hiked to the top of a fell or mountain.
I love taking photos of where I’ve been on my adventures as well, making memories and capturing the good times in life is important to me. I am also extremely passionate about promoting the benefits of spending time outside and the positive effects this can have on improving your mental and physical health. Having been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression myself 4 years ago, I came to realise the importance of spending time outside and how this has made a huge difference to my life and how it can for other’s too.
Stacey Roberts – Event Support
I love the outdoors, whether that’s walking the fells, climbing or being in a kayak on a lake. Living on the edge of the Lake District I try and make the most of it and I’m currently ticking off the Wainwrights. This also helped me train for a trip to climb Kilimanjaro later in 2019.
I’m a strong believer that the outdoors is great for our physical and mental health and I want to help people have the confidence to get out and enjoy the beauty we have around us. I’m also a qualified Mental Health First Aider.
Cath Melvin – Event Support
I was lucky enough to be born in the beautiful county of Cumbria and a love of the outdoors has always been in my blood. There’s nothing like a yomp in mother nature to bring you back to the ground when the ups and downs of life get a bit heavy. Whether that’s the hills, lakes or coastline, I love them all.
I work as a wellbeing Coordinator and I’m extremely passionate about improving my own and others’ mental and physical health and know first hand the benefits that outdoor activity can bring. I’m also a qualified Mental Health First Aider.
Alex Jones – Event Support
The hills and mountains are special places to me, they feel like a space where we can truly cast off the expectations of our modern lives and learn and grow as we would in our natural environment
My mid 20’s brought a difficult few years and I learned a lot about myself in that time, when my employer offered the chance of training as a MHFA I was one of the first on the list as I wanted the chance to return the favours so many have done for me.
I’m a Mental Health First Aider and also slowly working through my Mountain Leader Award, unfortunately its taking forever as I keep finding new adventures to distract me.
Naomi Scott – Event Support
When I was little I was always outside climbing trees and out with friends. As you grow up and ‘real life’ stresses kick in I found myself bogged down with work, in a job I no longer enjoyed feeling more and more down.
I remembered my childhood and the enjoyment of being outside and took it upon myself with a friend to step out of my comfort zone and walk up Snowdon. Being Wales it was wetter than wet and I stangely enough, thoroughly enjoyed myself. And I haven’t stopped since.
I love taking photos of the places I have been to capture the beauty of the great outdoors. Whether that be right on my doorstep or further afield. I feel that the benefits of getting outside and the impact it has on mental health and wellbeing, has been recognised and it’s a great way of letting go of all the stresses and worries that come with daily life.
Corinna Parry – Event Support
Having been born and bred in the heart of Snowdonia, it has only been since May 2019 that I discovered the love and passion I have for the mountains after deciding to hike up Snowdon for the second time in my lifetime. I have not looked back since that incredible moment I decided to change my life.
The new found love I have for the Mountains has certainly helped my own battles recently and helped to change and shape the direction to my life currently, the drive to keep on walking, running and wild swimming is so powerful and I am excited to share this experience with everyone.
Steph Miller – Event Support
Mountains hey… what a way to make some memories! I have a strong passion for mountaineering, I spend my happiest days frequenting the UK mountains and when I’m not doing that I’m in the Himalayas bumbling up those mountains instead. It’s my passion and my therapy.
It’s not all about mountains though, it’s about the outdoors. I gain so much from the fresh air, vitamin D and the space… how I love the space. I’m a trained psychotherapist and now support others in the greatest setting… the outdoors. Well… life doesn’t get much better than that!
Adam Vaughan – Photographer
I started rock climbing in Liverpool about 6 years ago and very quickly became obsessed, progressing from indoor bouldering to the crags of Cheshire, Lancashire and North Wales. I now live and work in West Yorkshire where I’m lucky enough to have to whole of the Peak District on my doorstep for rock climbing, hiking and wild swimming. One day someone might even drag me up a mountain…
My background is in press and commercial photography but I now spend most of my time installing massive artworks outdoors.