Message from our Chairman

We thank Andrew Gardiner for all his hard word and dedication to the Mutual and its Members.

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Manager’s Travels

How are we all doing?

It continues to be a very busy season for AIM with many of you renewing at this time.  I hope that all your businesses and activities are continuing very well, despite more inclement weather than we experienced last summer.  Exams are over (as a mother of a GCSE student this year, I am breathing a sigh of relief!) and the summer stretches out ahead of us, with residential visits and summer camps.  As Members you provide a tremendous array of activities!  I have been lucky to try some of these for the first time recently, more below.

What’s been happening over the past few months? 

We had a wonderful Member event held at Lord’s Cricket Ground in March, followed by the AIM AGM and it was great to see so many of you there.  I hope that you found the day worthwhile.  Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback.  This really helps us to plan our AIM events.  If you have any suggestions for future member events, please let us know we are always interested in your suggestions for locations and speakers. 

What have I as Manager been up to? 

I am very much enjoying my visits to see as many of you as possible, covering lots of different areas of the UK.  My recent visits have included trying caving in the Mendip Hills at Mendip Outdoors which was great fun; visiting Scotland to see the Actual Reality Trust at Ardentinny, via a lovely ferry across to Dunoon, and then on to Ardmay at the top of Loch Long, both of which had stunning sites and beautiful scenery; and meeting up with Xplore and Klub Group in Stowmarket and seeing their beautiful woodland bush craft areas.  I was sorely tempted to don a wetsuit and swim in the lake at Waterland Gear (next time!) and I had a super walk around the historic house and site at Sealyham in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.  I also had my first attempt at stand up paddle boarding with SUP Bristol, managing not only not to fall in, but successfully stand up paddling along the river in Bristol.  Thank you all for making me feel so very welcome at these visits and for your time in showing me round. 

James and I attended the Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) two day conference in Sheffield at the end of June and met many of our current Members and hopefully some new ones too!   So many of our enquiries come from recommendations- thank you for those.  The conference was very well attended and a great event.

What’s to come over the next few months?

I’m off to the North West at the end of July then Wales and Scotland in October.  We have a Member event in Okehampton on the 7th October – details to follow but please let Cathy know if you would like to attend on [email protected].

As always, the team is here to help you with queries and any issues.  Please do get in touch if we can help you at all.  I’d be delighted to come and say hello so do let me know if you would like me to come and see you as well.



Snowdon Climb

Manager’s Travels – New Year

What a busy year it has been!  My first 12 months as Mutual Manager at AIM have flown by.  It has been an exciting time for me in this new role, full of variety and one I have thoroughly relished.  As we start another new year, reviewing 2018 and looking forwards to 2019, I thought it would be a good time to review with you my last 12 months and what we at AIM are looking to achieve in the next 12 months, and beyond.


This has been an integral and exciting part of the Manager’s role.  I have very much enjoyed my travels and meeting as many of you, the Members, as possible.  Visits have taken me as far south as Southampton and Poole, west to Somerset and Devon, east to Norfolk and north to Inverness via Cheshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Cumbria!  I have  always been so warmly welcomed- thank you.  It has been really interesting for me seeing your sites and activities,  discussing your businesses with you and assisting in risk management and answering queries.  I will try and see you in 2019 if I have not managed to meet you in 2018.


2018 has been a year for seeing new places, trying new activities and learning new skills.  I have managed to take my running kit with me on my travels and have enjoyed different routes, running along the south coast, in various towns and villages, in the Cumbrian fells and the Scottish hills.  I learned to climb with ropes on an indoor wall, something I had wanted to try for a while, having successfully defended climbing claims for AIM.  Thank you to The Castle for their hospitality!  I also loved assisting Firetrail with their Illuminator 25km night run in October at the Glen Tanar Estate, acting as a marshall throughout the night and helping with the clear up the following day.  I am still to have a go at axe throwing so if any Members want to demonstrate this to me in 2019, I am a willing contestant!

Claims and defensibility

Protecting your brand and reputation is key.  Accidents do occur but with good risk management and documentation, the opportunities for a successful defence are increased.  We have achieved some great successes in 2018, successfully defending claims which ensure both the integrity of the sector and also act as a deterrent to spurious claims.  I am more than happy to assist you if you have any risk management issues or want to discuss risk assessments and best practice.

Industry matters

It is very important to us at AIM that we listen to your issues and provide you with a voice in the industry, representing your interests at various levels.  This has included being involved in the discussions concerning the new AALA scheme and how this might look in the future.  I have also attended various sector events and conferences, making new contacts and joining several new Members.  The main purpose has been ensuring that we keep abreast of issues affecting the industry and those affecting our Members.

We held our main Member event and AGM in March last year at Plas Y Brenin and a smaller localised event at Glenmore Lodge in Aviemore in October.  Both were well attended and I really enjoyed meeting Members and discussing hot topics on both occasions.  Our next exciting event takes place on the 21st March at Lord’s cricket ground with a variety of speakers, networking opportunities and followed by the AGM.  Do attend if you are able to – it would be great to see you there! Details can be found here

What’s next?

Well, the plan is to grow the Mutual whilst protecting your interests and keeping the very special mutual ethos, unique to AIM.  This is achieved through contact with you all, as well as regular liaison with your hard working Board of Directors.  We have spent time in 2018 discussing the future for AIM and debating a clear strategy for the next few years.  We always welcome feedback and Member involvement through the Membership Committee and if you are interested in getting involved, please let us know.

I am looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond, and wish you all a very successful and prosperous 2019.


The Skye’s the limit – Climbing & Scrambling in Black Cuillin

Manager’s Travels – Isle of Skye Our industry specialist James Willis recently had the pleasure of spending a holiday on the Isle of Skye following a recent trip to Scotland with the Mutual Manager.  He took the opportunity to do some climbing and walking whilst he was there and his blog follows:-

After an interesting trip visiting members with the Mutual Manager, Sophia headed back to London and I met my wife and a couple of friends for a holiday break to the Island of Skye.

For the Friday and Saturday we had a guide from an AIM member Skye Adventure, the affable John Smith. On the Friday morning we enjoyed a wonderful walk in the Red Cuillin from the Sligachan Hotel to Sron a Bhealain and the Druim na Ruaige where we had our lunch, finding a sheltered spot to enjoy the spectacular views.

In the afternoon we had a coastal walk out to Brothers’ Point (Ruadh nam Brathairean).

Our industry specialist James with friend Alastair and guide John Smith from Skye Adventure

The bigger challenge was on the Saturday (of the Royal Wedding), when we had a memorable day in the Black Cuillin walking and scrambling to the summit of Scurr Alasdair from the Glen Brittle Bay beach. John took us up on a varied and interesting ascent involving some climbing and a number of pitches, descending by way of the Great Stone Shoot.


We were lucky with our weather window. The views that we enjoyed on all our walks were wonderful, particularly the spectacular vista from Scurr Alsadair across the seas to the islands on one side and the Scottish mainland on the other.

From an AIM manager’s point of view, it’s always interesting to observe instructors and guides managing their group, be it a couple of mature men or a bunch of kids. As well as being excellent company, John provided us with an unforgettable adventurous couple of days and further whetted our appetite for further visits to the Isle of Skye.



Manager’s Travels

Here’s the latest blog from our new Mutual Manager Sophia Reed on her travels.

This is a great job and one of the best aspects which I particularly love is getting out and about to meet as many of our AIM Members as possible. This is a very busy season for us as well as for you, with plenty of renewals and the opportunity to come and see you. I have really enjoyed my recent trips and thought that I would share some of these with you, and say a big thank you to the Members who have hosted me and shown me their centres and activities. I hope to meet as many of our other Members as possible over the coming months.

Scotland (first trip!)

I had a super few days earlier in March visiting Aboyne to the west of Aberdeen and meeting Alex from FireTrail and learning all about their annual Illuminator Race which is held in October. This is a 25km night race over varying terrain and which I am very much looking forward to attending later this year. I also learned all about the school groups activities and the Beast 10km obstacle races.

Then I travelled up to Outfit Moray to meet with Tony and learn all about their group events and biking activities and in particular the scheme they have for repairing old and discarded bikes and putting these back into good use. The weather was kind and the coastal scenery stunning!

Next was a stopover in Grantown on Spey and a visit to Suresh at Equal Adventure to see first hand how he puts in practice his Can Do attitude to outdoor adventures for disabled people, and of course to marvel at his incredible workshop! From there to Aviemore and the exciting Zip Trek trail run by G2 Outdoors. Mike Gale there was very kind in showing me round their activities and in taking me up the mountain to the starting point of the zip trek trail, comprising 14 individual zip wires which take the participant from the top back down to the base.

Scotland (second trip)

Being half Scots I relish being up in Scotland and am thrilled we have so many of you there who we can come and see. On this trip I was accompanied by James Willis and we started off on the overnight Caledonian sleeper from London to Glasgow. Then a short hop across to the beautiful island of Arran to visit Colin Morrison at Auchrannie and to take in the sights of their hotel complex and many activities including their large gymnasium. From there we drove up to the top end of the island to Lochranza where we met with Stuart and learned about the school groups who stay at their field studies centre and indulge in geological research, and were treated to stags on the golf course and seals on the rocks at mid tide!


From there we travelled to Oban and met with Jane from Hebridean Pursuits and discussed their charity arm and the work they do with school and other groups in mountaineering courses and development through outdoor experiences.

Our next stop was to meet with James at Ossian Developments and check out with envy their niche luxury riverside lodges and learn about their Segway excursions, an activity which is hugely popular and on the increase with so many of our Members. From there we travelled to see Ben Starkie at Vertical Descents and learn all about their new Via Ferrata which they have constructed in a local gorge, providing a thrilling vertical descent up and across the gorge and waterfall.

The next day after a pre breakfast run (me) and a walk (James) with magnificent views of Ben Nevis we moved indoors at Three Wise Monkeys climbing centre at Fort William and met with Peter and Ollie. The climbing centre is housed in a former church situated on a hill so provides a perfect height and gradient for climbing walls! One of AIM’s newest Members, the clientele is diverse ranging from very experienced climbers and mountaineers, as well as guides, to local families and children’s groups and college students.

From there we rounded off our trip with another visit to Grantown on Spey (again) to meet with Les Durance and to see the accommodation he provides to vulnerable youngsters and the opportunities his company provides to re introduce them into education and give them opportunities to develop and grow as young people.

I boarded a plane at Inverness bound for London and left James with the prospect of a trip to Skye where the Cuillin Ridge beckoned him. More about that shortly!


Cheshire and Wales

I started off with a visit to Woodland Adventure based in Walsall and met with Darren who showed me round their residential accommodation and numerous outdoor activities. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Year 6 group who were relishing their turns on the zip wire traversing the small lake!

Next stop was Manley Mere where the lake sparkled in the very warm afternoon sunshine and a lovely meeting with Jane who gave me a tour of the centre which provides numerous water sports activities and lake swimming, as well as an adventure trail. The newest addition is the thrilling inflatable challenge course, appealing to both young and old!

After a birthday dinner for my Mum, I set off and headed up to West Lancashire to Rock & River where I was well looked after by Lee and Anna who showed me their new chalet accommodation and recent renovations as well as their variety of activities including a super Swamp Romp and stunning high ropes course!

From there to meet with Dave Orange at Open Door, which is based in a 19th Century manor house, set in a stunning valley, and to hear all about the groups who visit them there and to witness some excellent raft building culminating in an exciting raft race by a Princes Trust group who were on a residential trip. I rounded off my visit with a scramble in the caves!

En route back to the South, my last stop was RYG at Bala to see Ed. Arriving early, I was handed a much needed cup of coffee and met all the staff and learned what activities they were each providing to the Year 5 & 6 school group which was staying at their centre. Climbing, sailing and orienteering were all on the day’s agenda and I rounded off my visit with a tour of the stores and a delicious piece of home made flapjack!

So a huge thank you again to everyone I met with who gave up their time to see me and for their fabulous hospitality. Thank you all for showing me your activities and letting me see first hand what you do.