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After teaching at the Royal Wolverhampton School and Manchester Grammar School he became, in 1965, Warden of The Woodlands Outdoor Centre in south Wales. This centre for school children from the city of Oxford soon became recognised as one of the country's leading adventure centres. In 1971 he was appointed Director of the Centre for Outdoor Education, Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside, in the Lake District. Over the next twenty years the Centre became renowned both for its degree courses and especially for its one-year International Adventure course for experienced teachers.
Apart from a lifetime in Outdoor Education, Colin has acquired a considerable reputation for his own adventures. In the 1960s he was one of Britain's top rock climbers, and was probably the first to devise and use a climbing wall. He led an Oxford Expedition to Norway and was on the successful Trivor Himalayan Expedition. He later went on to discover Pembrokeshire sea-cliff climbing and wrote the initial guidebook. After several years of white-water canoeing and small-boat sailing off the west coast of Britain he began sea kayaking. In 1975, he was awarded a Churchill Scholarship for leading a pioneering six-man kayak expedition along the arctic coastline of Norway and round the North Cape. This was followed in 1979 by a two-man kayak expedition along the Alaskan coastline from Prince Rupert to Sitka. In 1981 he returned to Sitka and made a 650-mile solo kayak journey to the north, including Glacier Bay. In the following years he spent a considerable time establishing and working as Chairman for the Ambleside and Area Adventure Association and the Lakes Community Outdoor Project. Together these charities provided outdoor experiences and sports resources for the local community. He returned to the mountains of Europe in 1988, and since retirement in 1991 has covered over 15,000 miles trekking in the wild, often alone.
Colin Mortlock was founder and first chairman of the National Association of Outdoor Adventure Education. He is currently chairman of the Adventure & Environmental Awareness Group. He has written extensively on outdoor education and has an international reputation as a keynote lecturer on adventure and values. His other book, The Adventure Alternative, was published by Cicerone in 1984 and remains in print.