Community projects

Project for the summer of 2016 – Naryn, Krygyzstan

Gardening at Aruu Telek

Gardening at Aruu Telek

The King’s School Himalayan Club  travelled to Kyrgyzstan during the summer of 2016. To satisfy our need to have a community project embedded into the itinerary, we  developed a link with two centres in Naryn supporting children with disability, families and single mothers. The first, called Aruu-Telek, is a government run home where children stay for short spells and where victims of assault can seek refuge. There are 15 children and 14 women in the centre. They received a carpet, mattresses, a treadmill, ball pit, a television, and a washing machine. While we were there we worked in three groups, gardening, making up the items we had brought and making flags to adorn the entrance to the centre.

With the children and staff at Kadan

With the children and staff at Kadan

The second home we visited was Kadan, a day care centre where children with disability go to study each day. The children have a variety of disabilities from cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome  as well as a variety of other disabilities. The centre caters for about 100 children and relies entirely on donations from from NGOs and humanitarian projects. They received  a projector, a sensor TV and kitchen equipment, shelving, toilets, mattresses and a carpet. As well as playing with the children we divided ourselves into working teams and built the kitchen units and shelving. With hardly any tools and all the instructions in Russian made it all the more interesting but the group rose to the occasion and did an excellent job.

One project that is on-going is “Share the Vision”. Below is a brief description of what it involves.

Share the Vision, a project enabling blind and visually impaired young people to venture into remote mountainous regions, was formed in 2006. I made an approach to NCW, a college for the blind in Worcester, and suggested that some of their students might benefit from teaming up with sighted students from King’s School Worcester and going trekking in Morocco. The idea was welcomed and we set about finding students from both schools who could work together and all benefit from the experience.

What followed proved to be a voyage of discovery for everybody concerned; the blind and visually impaired discovered that there was more they could achieve than they appreciated, given the opportunity, the sighted students discovered that disability is not a barrier to friendship and that with their eyes their partners could achieve a great deal, and the staff were inspired by the work, attitude and achievements of the young people in their charge.

Training in the Black Mountains

Training in the Black Mountains

Before we could go to Morocco we had to put everybody through a very varied training programme. The sighted students had to learn how to guide. The blind students had to learn to trust their guides in an otherwise hostile environment. The sighted students had to learn to understand the individual and specific needs of their charges and to understand that they did not have to do everything!

The blind students had to learn to cope with the confinement of living in a tent. The staff had to create a structured training programme, gradually increasing the physical demands so that they were well prepared for the mountains of Morocco, which are significantly higher than anything we have in the UK. Dotted between the physical, outdoor training were visits to restaurants and other social occasions so that the two sets of students got to know each other in a variety of situations.

Trekking in the Jebel Sahro

Trekking in the Jebel Sahro

That first trip to Morocco in 2007 involved a significantly difficult trek in the Jebel Sahro, achieved by all, and this was followed up with a trek in the Sahara Desert where the opportunity to ride camels was experienced. In both environments it was important that the sighted students used their linguistic skills to create pictures in the minds of their charges. The scenery and landscape was so different to anything we have in the UK, it was not that difficult. The most dangerous aspect of the whole trip was coping with the rather lax adherence to the rules of the road in Marrakech, particularly in relation to pedestrians.

Dhaulagiri sunrise

Dhaulagiri sunrise

The overriding outcome of that first trip was that it had been a huge success and that it was worthy of repetition, not to Morocco on the next occasion, but to Nepal in 2009.  Here, we were embarking on a trek in the Annapurna region. While our highest point was to be 3200m, we would have a wall of snow-capped peaks in front of us rising, in some instances, to more than 8000m.  This was a hugely rewarding experience and listening to the descriptions of the sunrise over the Himalaya being relayed to the blind students on top of Poon Hill on a chilly April morning is something to be treasured.

Close encounters with a baby elephant

Close encounters with a baby elephant

It is important on these trips that other senses come into play to compensate, in part, for the loss of sight. That is why, having completed the trek, we travelled to the hot, sticky south of Nepal, to the Chitwan National Park, to encounter elephants, to ride on their backs looking for other giants of the jungle, rhino and the ever elusive tiger. Sadly the tiger remained elusive but we did see rhino. The highlight, though, was going down to the river with the elephants to bathe them. Here, all students could get involved in throwing water over these wonderful animals, stroking them, appreciating their leathery skin, feeling their wrinkled trunks and being sprayed by them, understanding how gentle these giants are and feeling confident in such close proximity. Sighted or not it is a fabulous experience and one that will remain with us forever.

Kathmandu traffic was even more scary than Marrakech but we found a safe haven in medieval Bhaktapur, a traffic free city to the east of Kathmandu where the students enjoyed touching many a statue and mixing with the local people who were very welcoming and sympathetic.

DSC_0248In 2011 we returned to Morocco for a trek in the Anti-Atlas Mountains where we successfully climbed a peak of 2900m. This was a remarkable achievement in extremely difficult terrain, considering the nature of the group, a steep slope of loose and wobbly rocks the size of dinner plates, but the guides approached it with optimism and enthusiasm while the blind and visually impaired approached it with determination and grit. Everybody dug deep and all made it to the summit.

DSC_0464Learning from our experiences in Nepal, we included a proper camel trek this time, not in the Sahara, but through the Argon Forest and along the Atlantic coast of southern Morocco.  To feel the camel, to learn of its features through touch was important, but it was also a relief to dismount occasionally, to let somebody else learn and understand the discomfort of riding a camel. Camping on the beach with Atlantic waves crashing on the shore, of students playing freely at the water’s edge, songs round a campfire are treasured memories, not just for me but for all involved.

Enjoying the summit of an Icelandic peak

Enjoying the summit of an Icelandic peak

The more we did this the more we wanted to try. With this in mind we travelled to Iceland in 2013. This trip lacked that personal experience with animals but more than made up for it in other ways. Here we had thunderous waterfalls, geysers, pools of sulphurous, bubbling mud, hot springs to wallow in when the outside temperature struggled to reach double figures, glacier walking, white water rafting which included a ‘leap of faith’ from the top of a 7m cliff into the river below. And then there was the trek, an unbelievable experience walking over lava fields, across volcanic deserts, wading across roaring rivers, feeling the wind and the rain on our skin and, oh yes, climbing a mountain or two. Iceland has it all and that is why we are going back there in 2015 to do it all again and to add caving to the list.

DSC_0524In an age of risk assessment and risk aversion you might ask why we do it. Yes there are risks involved and that is why we plan and prepare thoroughly. However, the rewards far outweigh the risks.  The reward is a blind student telling me that they never realised just how much they could achieve and now they want to do more. The reward is a visually impaired young man telling me that he has been able to see stars for the first time in his life because the air is so clear. The reward is seeing friendships develop and blossom beyond the trips. The reward is achieving the seemingly impossible.

Although I am no longer directly involved in the trips, I am optimistic that the two schools will find a way of making this work, and that they continue to push the boundaries for blind and visually impaired young people through adventure.

Student trips

Student Trips Overseas

Annual expeditions to a variety of destinations.  In the early days all expeditions went to the Himalaya in the spring, but with changes to the education calendar, trips have latterly been during the summer, when parts of the Himalaya are monsoon affected and not suitable to visit.

All expeditions have a community project, which can last anything from two days to a week according to the nature of the work, the needs of the community and the amount of flexibility within the itinerary.

Before any expedition takes place there is a training programme, which gives group members skills in the outdoors, navigation and camp craft, develops the team and gives each member leadership opportunity and skills.  The team members are also given fundraising challenges, which contribute either to the expedition funds or to the community project.

Past trips:

Future trips:

  • Mustang 2014
  • Indonesia 2016

For details of any of these trips please CONTACT US.

Young and Visually Impaired

Share the Vision – These are joint expeditions with New College, Worcester, the college for blind and visually-impaired young people.  They tend to be shorter in duration, up to a maximum of two weeks, and involve a short trek in mountainous terrain along with a more tactile activity i.e. in Morocco riding camels, in Nepal riding and bathing elephants.

Each NCW student is paired with a King’s student so that they enjoy the experience together, with the guides giving voice to what they see around them.

The training for these expeditions focuses largely on the guides understanding the needs of their partners and coping with the responsibility of their roll, as well as the blind and visually-impaired coping with the physical challenge.  There is also an emphasis on the social development of the group.

Previous trips:

Future trips:

  • Iceland 2015

To discuss trips for young people with special needs please get in touch.

Welcome to Adventure Guide

Fulfil your dreams on a ‘journey of a lifetime’.

How do you fancy trekking in the Himalaya, climbing Kilimanjaro, exploring the islands of Indonesia, scaling the heights of the Andes, or experiencing one of the fabulous long distance trails the UK has to offer?

For 25 years I have been expertly organising trips across the world for groups and individuals alike, trekking in mountainous regions of the world, fundraising for charities, and supporting community projects.

Each trip is unique and tailor-made for you, so while you may be following in the footsteps of others, your trip will be sufficiently different for it to be special for all involved.  While expeditions are not necessarily charitably motivated, it is always good to give something back to the communities we encounter; not always monetary but sometimes just a matter of giving a little time and, perhaps, energy.

Over the years my journeys have opened my eyes, have changed my life and inspired me.  I hope you find the pages of this website will inspire you and give you the impetus to….



Whilst, for many years, the main emphasis of my trips has been providing adventurous expeditions for young people, including those with a visual impairment, my main emphasis is now focused on providing experiences for adults. I am still keen to help with trips for young people, but I tend now not to go on them myself.

Hence I work mostly with:

Groups and Individuals

  • Adult overseas expeditions, consisting of an extended trek, up to a maximum of around 4000m, lasting up to 21 days, a cultural experience and the opportunity to contribute financially to a community project. My days of going to 6000m+ are gone.
  • UK based expeditions, which follow long distance trails.  These usually last up to 9 days and can have the additional attraction of raising money for charity.

A training programme designed to help with team building, fitness and general preparation precedes all trips and expeditions.

My aim is to give everybody a lifetime experience and for the maximum number, within a group, to achieve the targets for their expedition.  I have twenty five year’s experience of leading expeditions. Over 700 people, young and not so young, have travelled with me on almost fifty expeditions.

In the UK I have a number of long distance trails to my credit including Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, the alternative Coast to Coast (Lindisfarne – Ravenglass), The Lakeland Round, Holyhead – St David’s, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, John O’Groats – Lands End (as a relay), the Wye Valley Trail, the North Cotswold Diamond Way, Hadrian’s Wall, the Dales Way, St Cuthbert’s Way and most recently the Wessex Ridgeway.

Every trip requires a basic level of fitness, which can be achieved through regular  hill-walking or gym  work.  Group training walks build friendships as well as  fitness.  So come on, get involved, and have some fun!

For more information please contact John Walton