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IOL Wessex

IOL Wessex Home Page

Outdoor Learning in Wessex

The Wessex region is full of character with landscape of open downland, plain and scarp, wooded plateaus, high chalk plains, vales, river valleys, and lowland mosaic and a Jurassic Coast world heritage site. The unique geography and geology of the region is home to a wide array of providers including, commercial residential centres, adventure challenge courses, educational establishments delivering bespoke outdoor courses, voluntary organisations, clubs and individual practitioners who deliver a diverse range of high quality outdoor learning opportunities.

The voluntary committee represents IOL in your region, get in touch with us. We wish to represent your views.

Wessex Regional Events

Wessex Regional News

IOL NW Conference 2023 a success!

IOL NW Conference 2023 a success!

Over 120 people gathered for the annual 2023 IOL NW Conference

IOL NW Conference 2023 a success!

On Friday 27th January over 120 people gathered for the annual 2023 IOL NW Conference - Celebrating Outdoor Learning. After 2 years online, we were back in person this year with a sell out event for a wide mix of instructors, teachers, leaders, educators, students, consultants and researchers.

Participants enjoyed an opening keynote from Neal Anderson and Dave Harvey that asked questions about the purpose and role of Outdoor Learning in the current world and shared in-depth information on the current trends, opportunities and initiatives affecting our region.


Twelve high quality workshops were provided across a morning and afternoon sessions (you can click to download these presentations where linked - more to follow):
1. Parkour, Street Monkeys;
2. Movement and dance, Lucy Nicholson;
3. Mental health first aid, Annabel Nicholls;
4. Nature journaling, Erin Singleton;
5. Environmental leadership, Neal Anderson;
6. Professional toolkit, Max Vendrig;
7. Sequencing outdoor learning, Claire Backhouse;

8. Equality, diversity, & inclusion, Sarah Wilks;
9. Technology in the outdoors, Dave Harvey;
10. Bushcraft & BCA award, Elspeth Mason;
11. Let them be wilder, Jamie Normington;
12. Ethics in action, Kirsty Weedon.


Over lunch participants enjoyed browsing research poster presentations, many from UCLAN, a fantastic vegetable lasagne from the University of Cumbria team, and a full set of industry updates, including Mountain Training, John Muir Award, Duke of Edinburgh Award, British Canoeing, British Caving, British Orienteering, and current research in the region.

The closing address from Chris Loynes “Can a caged bird sing?” was a highlight and privilege to hear. His reflective account of 50 years involved in the field highlighted the responsive nature of outdoor learning provision across the decades and offered a hope for Outdoor Learning continuing to be force for change, recovery and a different future.

At the IOL NW AGM the meeting gave a vote of thanks to Neal Anderson as he stepped down as Chair after 9 years. The meeting decided to pause IOL NW activity for the coming months until the IOL/OLA were in a position to offer some clarity of purpose and scope at a regional level. Members of the committee agreed to hold an open meeting in 3-4 months to discuss the level of interest and commitment for future activity. The meeting also recognised the last year had seen a lack of diversity in the committee and all were keen to see that reversed in the future.

In the interim period Dave Harvey volunteered to act as the IOL NW point of contact.

Thanks to the University of Cumbria for hosting us, ITC First for being our sponsoring exhibitor, Lyon Equipment for the free gift of dry bags, Wilfs Cafe for their awesome cakes, all the presenters who offered to share their time and expertise at no charge, and to all who attended and made the event such a big success.

Neal Anderson.


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Wessex Committee

Contact IOL Wessex


Go to the Wessex Facebook page for pictures, videos, reports and updates.


Warwick Mill Business Centre, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA4 8RR

+44 (0)1228 564580



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