About Steve

Steve has a background in recreational and competitive outdoor activities, combined with 30+ years of academic and professional training. This positions him uniquely within the ranks of UK outdoor activity providers. His extensive practical experience in all the major outdoor activities is underpinned by a specialist understanding of the theory behind the practice – it’s a rare combination. This guarantees an expert and personalised approach as well as a commitment to supporting everyone to realise their adventure sports ambitions.

The elusive Green Hair Streak

Green Hair Streak

The Green Hair Streak (Callophrys rubi) is the UK’s only truly green butterfly.  Whilst not yet endangered, it is not easy to find and tends to live in small colonies near its favourite food and larval plants.  Mid April until the end of June is the best time to see Green Hair Streaks and, knowing that a small colony exists on a local hillside near where there is plenty of its favoured bilberry, Steve set out to see if he could find any.  As luck would have it there were two of the tiny creatures flying and briefly landing, though despite following them through the vegetation for a long time, they never paused long enough to permit a good photograph (the image is from a previous encounter at the same place).

These butterflies are about the size of an adult’s thumbnail and blend in to their surroundings making them hard to spot.  They always perch with their wings closed, which is when the green undersides to their wings become apparent.  The name ‘Hair streak’ comes from the faint white line, or line of white dots on the green underwings, though this can vary significantly between individual animals.  Several other British butterflies also have the hair streak marking and name: the Purple, Black, Brown and White Letter Hairstreaks.

If you are interested in learning more about natural history or would just enjoy a nature walk with information and insight into the surrounding environment, then Steve will be pleased to help.  Get in touch at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk or on 07796 213817.

By |May 14th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on The elusive Green Hair Streak

Honeycomb Rock

Honeycomb Rock

On a recent visit to Skye we examined these amazing honeycomb rock formations at Elgol.  Geologists are not absolutely certain as to the process which creates this effect, though the most common explanation is salt weathering (haloclasty): In coastal environments, salt water penetrates cracks or fissures in the rock surface and then dries and expands in any relatively warm conditions.  Salts may expand by up to three times as they dry and crystallise and may crack and fracture the rock as they repeatedly do so.  This is similar to freeze thaw effects but in this case may lead to this pitting and honeycombing of the rock.  It usually occurs in sandstone formations as is the case in Elgol.  Interestingly, it is an effect sometimes seen in sea walls, which rather demonstrates how quickly it can occur.

If you are interested in learning more about the environment around you, Steve will be happy to help.  He runs natural history and environmental outings to suit your needs and interests.  Get in touch at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk and on 07796 213817

By |April 16th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, natural history|Comments Off on Honeycomb Rock

Resolving the Centipede’s Dilemma: Steve’s new research paper published

Psychological Research

Steve’s latest research paper has been published in the journal Psychological Research.  Entitled Resolving the Centipede’s Dilemma: external focus distance and expertise in applied, continuous skills, the studies demonstrate the advantage gained via a distal external attentional focus whilst performing continuous movement skills.  We discovered that expertise plays a role in the immediacy of the benefit, in that the less developed the level of expertise, and the greater the potential to develop further, the more immediate the distal focus benefit.  Less skilled participants were provided with a sizeable and immediate advantage with a distal focus compared to a proximal focus and to their self-selected focus.  Experts were most effective using their well-practised and honed focus, though a prescribed distal focus matched this immediately.  We believe that given sufficient trials and practice using the distal focus, that experts will also experience significant performance gains.

It is very common in formal movement learning situations, at all standards, that participants are required and advised to focus internally on their bodily movement mechanics and proximally on any equipment they may be using.  Research has robustly demonstrated that such focal points interfere with subconscious motor control mechanisms and distract critical attentional resources from the goal of the task – which is what we should actually focus on.

Steve’s paper has been published open access by Springer Nature, so is freely available, full text, to anyone interested.  If you have any questions on this work or skill acquisition in general, please get in touch and he’ll do his best to assist.  Steve is available to run Skill Acquisition & Motor Learning courses on demand.

By |April 5th, 2024|Skill Acquisition|Comments Off on Resolving the Centipede’s Dilemma: Steve’s new research paper published

Coastal Navigation course for Sea Kayakers & SUP paddlers

Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning

Steve ran a very well attended Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course for sea kayakers and SUP paddlers of varied experience and expertise.  All were keen to develop their knowledge and understanding of the interaction between weather, tide, current and coastline to enable them to make the best and safest decisions for their paddling adventures.

Following a morning of critical information sharing and discussion, a significant part of the afternoon was spent practising journey planning using information gathered from primary sources such as sea charts, marine pilots and almanacs supported by trusted providers of weather, tide and sea state data.  Steve also discussed pilotage and buoyage with everyone to ensure they could operate in areas shared with other users and commercial traffic.

If you are keen to venture out on the sea but would like to be able to independently decide the most appropriate options then this course is ideal.  Steve does advertise a few each year but also runs them on demand.  Do get in touch with him on 07796 213817 or email steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |March 27th, 2024|Sea Kayak, SUP|Comments Off on Coastal Navigation course for Sea Kayakers & SUP paddlers

Cave Leader courses in the Yorkshire Dales

Vertical Cave Leader training, Yorkshire Dales

Steve’s busy caving year continued this past month with a Cave Leader Group Day assessment (in which the candidate did a very good job of looking after an adult group in Long Churn caves) and a Vertical Cave Leader training course.  There has been a resurgence of interest in caving training and qualifications post Covid which is good to see.

Steve is available to run BCA qualifications courses, or personal caving days for individuals and groups of any standard, wishing to develop their skills and knowledge, or who just want to explore a new and exciting activity.  If you’re new to caving and are considering giving it a try, get in touch with Steve for a chat about possibilities on 07796 213817 and steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk .  There’s no need to get wet, cold or to go into any tight spaces – Steve will ensure you have an enjoyable time that may challenge your preconceptions.

By |March 26th, 2024|Cave|Comments Off on Cave Leader courses in the Yorkshire Dales

Ermine in Newlands


Whilst out in Newlands recently we had the good fortune to have an ermine running along the hedgerow beside us, the first time we’d ever encountered a fully white coated stoat in the Lakes.  Ermine actually refers to the dense white winter coat of the stoat (Mustela erminea), though not all stoats turn fully white in winter: those living in warmer climes may only partially change colour, or not change at all.  Stoats are fearless predators with the ability to take prey much bigger than themselves – they can kill a rabbit with a bite to the back of the neck.  The stoat is our second smallest mustelid; it has a black tip to its tail and has a bounding gate, which is a good way to differentiate it from the smaller weasel (the world’s smallest carnivore), which runs while remaining level and has no black tail tip.  The mustelid family in the UK is also represented in the wild by badgers, otters, pine martens and polecats.  American mink are the descendants of escapes from fur farms, whilst ferrets are domesticated, selectively bred polecats.

If you’d like to know more about the nature on your doorstep, Steve will be happy to help.  He offers guided nature and mountain walks on which to explore and explain the environment around you.  Get in touch on 07796 213817 or at steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |March 26th, 2024|Environment, Keswick Guided Walks, Mountain, natural history|Comments Off on Ermine in Newlands

Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning Course Cumbria

Coastal NAvigation & Tidal Planning

Steve is running a Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course on Monday March 25th based in Cumbria.  This course is suitable for anyone going out sea kayaking, SUP paddling or sit on top paddling in coastal waters. It covers critical information about weather and tide and their effect on conditions, trip planning and decision making.  It will address navigation in advance and on the water, as well as pilotage and buoyage.  It is a prerequisite for anyone seeking to take British Canoeing’s Sea Kayak Leader assessment.

If you’re interested or would like more information please get in touch with Steve on 07796 213817 or steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |February 5th, 2024|Sea Kayak|Comments Off on Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning Course Cumbria

Vertical Cave Leader assessment Yorkshire Dales

Vertical Cave Leader assessment

Steve finished off a busy caving week with a Vertical Cave Leader assessment in the Dales.  The candidate did a good job of leading a group of three on an exciting underground adventure.  A great outcome for clients and candidate alike – well done!

Steve runs Cave Leader and Vertical Cave Leader assessments on demand as required.  Call him to discuss your needs on 07796 213817 or email steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk

By |February 5th, 2024|Cave|Comments Off on Vertical Cave Leader assessment Yorkshire Dales

Cave Leader Update Days

Cave Leader Update Yorkshire Dales

Continuing his busy caving week, Steve ran an Update Day for six qualified Cave Leaders.  He ran the day entirely outdoors and practically as a field trip covering issues the candidates wanted and needed to revise, along with providing information to extend and develop their knowledge and practice.  Cave Leaders have to attend an Update Day every five years to maintain their qualification.  All present thought this an excellent and enjoyable day.

Update Days are run centrally by the BCA and Trainers/Assessors deliver them on a rota basis.  Steve adds the date of his next Update to his website as and when it’s scheduled.

By |February 5th, 2024|Cave|Comments Off on Cave Leader Update Days

Cave Leader Training Yorkshire Dales

Cave Leader training Dales

Steve followed up two assessments with a two day Cave Leader training course for six trainees.

We covered karst geography & geology, hydrology, access & conservation, relevant environmental issues, cave formation & formations, personal caving, appropriate equipment, group management and leadership (with a strong emphasis on making sure everyone has an enjoyable and positive experience), navigation underground and the Local Cave leader scheme and progressions.  Steve covered all of this outdoors and in caves in a completely practical and hands on manner – a great time was had by all!

If you are interested in trying caving or developing your current level either for personal recreation or to gain professional leadership qualifications, Steve will be pleased to hear from you and happy to help: steve@stevebanksoutdoors.co.uk and 07796 213817.

By |February 5th, 2024|Cave|Comments Off on Cave Leader Training Yorkshire Dales
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