Frequently Asked Questions

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Activities
What equipment do I need?
How fit do I have to be?
How long are the walks?
Is walking the only activity?
Who leads the walks?
Can you teach me to climb?

Accommodation and food
How do I book a meet?
How much does a meet cost?
How long does a meet last?
I don't like sharing - can I have my own room?
What food do I need to bring?
What is a cook-in?
What kind of food should I bring for a cook-in?
How do I get to the meet?
I don't have a car...

If you have any questions that are not answered here, email the Membership Secretary with your question.


What equipment do I need?
You will be sent a kit list when you join, but basically for summer meets you need as a minimum: comfortable walking boots that provide ankle support, a full set of waterproofs (a jacket with hood, and waterproof trousers), and several layers of clothing. You also need a rucksack (at least 25 litre size) to carry spare clothes and food, and a water bottle.

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How fit do I have to be?
This depends on where the meet is being held and what you choose to do. For most meets you need to be reasonably active and prepared for a walk of 6 hours or more. Most meets involve walks of anywhere between 6 and 12 hours (there is usually a choice - you don't have to go on a yomp on your first meet!). The walk will usually involve climbing a couple of thousand feet as well. If you are not sure whether you are fit enough, ask the Meets Secretary before you book - on many meets there will be an experienced member willing to lead a more gentle walk if necessary.

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How long are the walks?
The amount of effort involved in a walk depends on the height gain, the roughness of the terrain and the weather, as well as the length of the distance covered. We are usually walking for most of the day. In Scotland, walks can sometimes be up to 15 miles and involve 4000 feet of ascent. However there will almost always be shorter and gentler walks available on the same meet - perhaps 8 or 10 miles, with less ascent.

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Is walking the only activity?
On many meets some members go scrambling or climbing (depending on the local area and the weather), and occasionally people decide to bring bikes and go for a cycle ride instead of walking. The likely activities will be mentioned in the meets list.

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Who leads the walks?
We do not have 'designated walk leaders' in OUMS, nor do we publish a walks programme which lists the walks available on each meet. Experienced members (or new members with previous mountain experience) usually turn up at a meet with ideas for walks, and we come up with a plan for Saturday on Friday evening or over breakfast on Saturday. The final plan will also depend on the weather forecast. We usually try to be ready to leave the accommodation at 9 am, unless an earlier start time has been arranged.

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Can you teach me to climb?
No - OUMS does not offer formal training in walking or climbing. However Sally (our membership secretary) organises a climbing day in Kent about once a month, at which beginners are welcome. More experienced members will usually be willing to 'show you the ropes', but you must understand that we are not qualified instructors. If you want formal training, you should arrange a course at one of the many outdoor centres around the country. The National Mountain Centre at Plas-y-Brenin in Snowdonia runs courses of all kinds.

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How do I book a meet?
When you join you will be given the password to access the members' part of the site, which includes a page listing all the forthcoming meets. There is a newsletter issued by email quarterly which also contains a list of forthcoming meets. When you have decided which meet(s) you wish to attend, email to check that there are places available, and then send a cheque for the appropriate amount. The details of who to contact will be on the relevant pages on the website/newsletter. You are not booked on a meet until you have paid.

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How much does a meet cost?
The cost depends on the type of accommodation we are using, and can vary from around £10 for the weekend (if it is a camping meet) up to around £45 for a meet which involves three nights in a bunkhouse. Don't forget to allow for transport and food costs as well.

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How long does a meet last?
Most meets are from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon (i.e. two nights' accommodation). However we sometimes have meets over a bank holiday weekend, when we would stay for three or four nights. When we go to Scotland the meet is usually for three nights, but often many people stay on for at least part of following week.

We also have a holiday abroad in some years, and this trip can be a week (for Europe) or longer (if we go further afield).

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I don't like sharing - can I have my own room?
It is not possible to have your own room if you stay in the accommodation booked by OUMS. Occasionally you may get a room where you have to share with only one other person, but small rooms are not always available (and even if they are, someone may get there before you!). If you don't fancy bunkhouse-style accommodation you can always book yourself a B&B near the bunkhouse, and call in on the group in the bunkhouse to find out what the plans are for the walks. If you do this, please let the Meets Secretary know you are coming, so we can look out for you.

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What food do I need to bring?
You will need to bring food for your breakfasts and packed lunches. What you bring for evening meals depends on whether you are planning to join in with the cook-in (see below), cook for yourself, or eat out (either pub grub or get a takeaway). Note that on many meets you would have to drive to get to the nearest shop or pub.

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What is a cook-in?
About half of the people or couples at a meet prepare some food, and we all share. Those people not cooking on that meet do the washing up, or help with the preparation. Most of the dishes are vegetarian - this is to allow for the members who do not eat meat, but is also more practical as it is far easier to store veg safely than meat, especially if the bunkhouse does not have a very big fridge. However for dedicated carnivores there is usually at least one dish cooked that includes meat.

Of course, you are not obliged to join the cook-in if you prefer pub food or a takeaway. On some meets, if people are unexpectedly late back, the cook-in may be abandoned if there is not enough time to get the cooking done or people are too hungry!

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What kind of food should I bring for a cook-in?
If it's your first meet - don't bring anything. Just help with the washing up. Then you can see the kinds of things that other people do and you can decide for yourself what to bring next time.

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How do I get to the meet?
The list of meets on the members' area of the website includes links to the websites of the bunkhouse or hostel. These websites provide the postcode which you can put into multimap or other internet mapping program, or feed into a satnav. The website often provides directions as well.

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I don't have a car...
If you don't have a car, or prefer not to drive all the way on your own, we can often arrange a car share with someone else from your area, or arrange to pick someone up from a railway station. The meets booking list (a Word document downloadable from the Meets page on the members' part of the site) often includes email addresses for people attending the meet who are willing to be contacted about the possibilities of giving a lift.

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