Walking is excellent exercise. It stretches the legs. It is low impact and aerobic. It is good for the lungs and heart. Sometimes, though, it can be heart-stopping.
Show the video. Judge the attentiveness of the group to decide whether to screen the whole six minutes, or the shorter version.
Download this video
by logging into Vimeo.
Discuss and answer students' questions, particularly about where and what the walk is, and who filmed it.
- The walkway is known as camino del rey, and is in a series of gorges near Malaga in Andalucia in southern Spain
- It was created as part of the building of hydroelectric power plants, to help transport of materials and to inspect and maintain the channels of the dam.
- The walkway took four years to build, and was finished in 1905
- Since then the walkway has suffered from lack of maintenance and is falling apart.
- The area is popular among climbers. Some tackle sections of the walkway, despite its dangers.
- There is safety wire running beside the walkway for experienced climbers to clip their safety harnesses to.
- The videomaker is a highly experienced German climber called Daniel Ahnen. He has filmed his own traverse of the walkway twice, once when he was using a harness and once without.
- Daniel Ahnen says his goal was and is "to let the world know about the beauty of life".
There are many different ways to follow up. If you want some lighthearted end-of term fun, you might choose the quiz. Or go for one or more of the other suggestions that matches the group's spirits and interests.
- How many people – other than the cameraman – are on the section of the walk?
- Guess how far it is from the walkway to the river below? Answer in metres.
- Camino del rey is the name of the walk. Camino is Spanish for walk. What does rey mean? Hint: it's connected to the Latin word rex, and the English word royal.
- Another walk named after a king's activity is Constitution Hill in London. Explain. (Bear in mind that Britain doesn't have a written constitution.)
- Malaga, the nearest city to the camino, is the birthplace of a world-famous Spanish artist and sculptor of the 20th century. He was a central figure in the cubist movement. Among his most famous works is a portrayal of the wartime aerial bombing of a city called Guernica. What is the artist's name? (Offer an extra 150 points for anyone who knows his full name.)
- There appear to be seven other people.
- More than 100 metres.
- King. The walk was named after the Spanish King Alfonso XIII who crossed the walkway in 1921 for the opening of the dam.
- Constitution Hill is named after King Charles II's custom of taking "constitutional" walks there. Constitutional means good for his constitution – that is, his health.
- Picasso. Known also as Pablo Picasso. His full name is, deep breath, Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.
Ask students to plan, or even make, a video of a walk they know. They could create something that reflects their feelings about some part of the local environment. It could be serious or comic, realistic or faked.
Avoid any unsafe walks, but the video could give the illusion of being scarily dangerous, but made by carefully assessing potential hazards and keeping risks as low as possible.
Discuss the videos from the viewers' point of view. What kinds of effects are powerful and memorable? What effects make people feel dizzy and nauseous?
Talk about the sense of dizziness that many people experience at just the thought of that high, dangerous walk. Explain the term vertigo. It describes the sensation that things you know are stationary seem to be moving, even spinning around. It is often accompanied by problems of balance and nausea, even actual vomiting.
When people say they feel dizzy, they sometimes mean they have vertigo symptoms. Sometimes they just mean they feel lightheaded, or a bit fuzzy.
Invite students to think of as many different reasons as they can that explain why people feel dizzy.
Prompt if necessary. Among the causes could be illness, infections, alcohol, fairground rounds, not having eaten recently, too much heat, getting sudden life-changing news – good or bad, standing up too quickly, doing a roly-poly down a hill.
Ask students to categorise the different causes they have identified. Which are a problem for which medical help needs to be sought? Which are caused by something in the physical environment that can be changed (such as having something to eat to raise blood sugar levels, or getting off the waltzer)? Which are emotional or psychological?
Invite students to say what they would do to help a friend who was suffering vertigo. Talk about the importance of listening with empathy, giving people physical space, and respecting their privacy and dignity. How would they reassure the ill or injured person?
Health and seguridad
Ask students to imagine that they are in charge of health and safety at the camino del rey. Tell them that there have been several deaths there in recent years. That is true. Their job is to reduce the risk of injury and death, and get as close to safe as is possible for an area that attracts daredevils and thrill seekers.
What would they do?
Do they have ideas straightaway? Who would they talk to for advice?
How would they identify the hazards? Do they think they are obvious, or is it a job for a specialist?
Talk about the possible actions to reduce risk. Would students be tempted to go for safety rails for those who do get there, or for barriers and penalty fines to discourage trespassers?
Note that it is already illegal to use the camino del rey walk. But access to it is not policed particularly effectively. People who want to, climb up to it, or get there through a rail tunnel.
Move the discussion to something closer to home that students know about. Are they aware of an area near them that they think presents a hazard? What would they like to be done about it? Conversely they may feel that there is an area which is overprotected, denying them access unnecessarily.
Discuss the issues involved. If students feel strongly, assist them to plan local action where they argue their case for change. What do they need to do to influence the decision makers? Whose help in the local community could they enlist? Who is likely to oppose their proposal and why?
That's just irresponsible
This video shows an dangerous and potentially harmful, even fatal, activity.
Do students think it is responsible to show it? Could it give the wrong message and encourage someone to injure themselves in a copycat action?
Or are they relaxed about it, believing that most people see a lot of stupid stunts all the time?
Have an open discussion, perhaps trying to agree on what age groups it would not be appropriate to show it to – as if students had to give it a film classification.
If there is a variety of opinion in the group, set up a debate. Either run it as a formal "This house believes that showing the camino del rey video is dangerous and irresponsible", with traditional proposer and seconder. Or select students who represent a range of views to sit on a question time style panel and face questions from the studio audience, played by the rest of the group.
This collection of activities was produced in July 2010 and written by PJ White. Our thanks to Daniel Ahnen for allowing us to use his footage of the camino del rey.