Hello Kate! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. For anyone out there who hasn’t come across your blog or twitter before, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I blog about everything outdoorsy that I can and have done for 3 years now. From walking to sailing and climbing to camping, I will have a go at pretty much anything if I get the opportunity, and I like to share that with people, as there’s always something different to write about. Hopefully that opens it up to more than just walkers! I’ve been a Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion for the past 2 years as well, which allows me to share that love of being outdoors with such a wide variety of people and hopefully inspire them to get out on their own adventures however big or small!
Have you always been outdoorsy? Can you tell us a little bit about your introduction to the outdoors and adventure activities?
I grew up spending lots of time outdoors. My parents took us on lots of walks as kids and I spent a few years living on the edge of Dartmoor, which definitely helped! Lots of playing in the River Dart and walking on the moors. As a teenager I joined the Sea Cadets and that’s where my real love of being outdoors began. I took part in Ten Tors, spent my evenings hiding in bushes covered in camouflage paint, went sailing, shooting, windsurfing, completed Royal Marine assault courses, yomped across Dartmoor some more, rowed, swam and completed my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, getting very wet, cold and muddy in the process. It just stuck. I went to university in Plymouth which, if you don’t know, is nicely wedged between Dartmoor and the sea! It was perfect, and I spent a lot of time on Dartmoor in the 4 years I wa living there.
What is it that you love about being outdoors the most?
The peace and freedom. Being able to walk out, step into nature, get some fresh air and instantly feel as if a weight has been lifted. You can just get away from everything if you want to.
You have the New Forest on your doorstep – what’s your favourite part of the national park?
I think it would have to be either Buckler’s Hard or Lepe Beach. Bucker’s Hard is a beautiful little spot, an old Royal Navy shipbuilding village on the Beaulieu River, where they built some famous ships that took part in battles such as Trafalgar in 1805. Also, prior to D-Day, they used it to construct dummy landing craft for preparations. There are two rows of cottages, a museum and a great pub! There’s also a beautiful walk along the river to Beaulieu and back.
Lepe Beach is beautiful as well, you get some wonderful views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, and it’s hard to believe that you’re in the UK on a sunny day! I have to admit that it also interests me historically. Hundreds of troops left from Lepe on June 6th 1944, for the beaches of Normandy, and you can still see reminders of that history on the beach, including the dolphins, which formed part of the pierheads for loading ships, as well as the beach hardening mats, which reinforced the beach so that military vehicles, including tanks, could head long the beach safely. HMS Mastodon (now Exbury House) is just down the road, and the whole New Forest is filled with wartime history!
As well as the history, though, it’s just a beautiful spot to get your toes in the water and watch the yachts in the solent. On the Friday of Cowes Week, you get a great view of the fireworks as well!
What is your favourite natural place to visit in the UK?
I love the mountains, and they hold a special place in my heart but I really don’t think you can beat the South West Coast Path for views. It is just stunning. Whether you’re walking in Somerset, Dorset, Devon or Cornwall, you’ll see something different and the coastlines are so varied. Crashing waves in secret coves relax me in a way nothing else could.
Where in the UK would you like to explore, but haven’t had the opportunity yet?
I am probably the worst outdoorsy person ever, but I’ve never been to the Lake District, and would love to. If I’ve headed north it’s always been for Scotland, and I’ve kind of bypassed the Lakes. Maybe this winter I’ll finally get up there for some Type II fun in the snow!
What is your favourite activity to do on your own?
Cycling. I’m not a big fan of group rides, I like to be on the road and just wing it as I go. I do it to take in the scenery around me rather than beat Strava records, though that’s always a bonus! I know many can’t walk or ride on their own as they feel too isolated, but I’m a very independent person and for me I need that solo time to be able to really get away from everything!
Have you ever done any formal training to help you learn any outdoors skills you have or are you completely self taught?
I did a course in the Alps last summer, which focused on moving on glaciers and getting out of crevasses if you fall in (and yes we had to fall in on purpose which wasn’t something I expected) but it helped me gain much more confidence in the mountains! Other than that, and being taught to navigate by an ex Royal Marine ML, I have taught myself everything.
What is your favourite memory from spending time outdoors?
It would have to be on a walk to the Albert 1er Refuge near Chamonix. It was a boiling hot day, I wasn’t feeling well as I’d had some mystery virus before I went to the Alps and was still not over it. I sat on a rock, grumbling to my guide whilst drinking some more water and an eagle flew down and perched not far from where we were sat. It was absolutely incredible to see one in the wild, especially soaring around in front of alpine peaks!
You once climbed Kilimanjaro, what made you want to complete this challenge and what did you do to prepare for it?
If I’m honest, I’d seen it in a documentary once and thought I’d like to one day, but it was a totally spontaneous decision! My best friend lives in Moshi, at the foot of the mountain, and I was going to visit her. It seemed stupid to be going all that way and not climb it!
In terms of preparation I am totally the worst example as I did nothing. I popped to Dartmoor a couple of times, but nothing I don’t do at the weekends anyway. I know some spend months in the gym before Kili, but I definitely didn’t. The only thing that made the climb difficult for me was ‘twisting my knee funny’ half way up on some scree… Turned out, after it gave out on the way down, I’d actually dislocated my kneecap, and in the scree down from the summit, just before it blew, I tore the tendon and cartilage. I decided to do it for charity as my Grandad passed suddenly and unexpectedly from Guillain Barre Syndrome, and so that kept me pushing on!
If people are stressing, though, they shouldn’t. It’s not a route march at all, and the pace you walk at is so slow it feels ridiculous, but it’s for your own good, and in order to acclimatise. If you walk in the hills anyway, you shouldn’t find it a problem!
Do you have any challenges in mind for the future?
I’m trying to plan more historical trips. So I am doing a bike ride in August from Sword Beach to The Seine, following the route the 12th Devons (including my Grandad) took after D-Day.
I also have a full traverse of the Drakensberg Mountains planned, I just need to let my guide know my date choice for 2019 or 2020, but it’s entirely dependent on how my masters study/annual leave falls!
What are you three favourite items of kit?
My Scarpa Manta Pro boots. They’re just fantastic and so comfortable.
My Jetboil, because a cup of tea can save your life… It’s a fact, maybe.
Would have to add my new tent (MSR Elixir 2) in there, as it really is fantastic and I can’t get over the space inside!
What do you think is your biggest barrier to getting outside regularly and how do you overcome it?
Life! It’s not always easy to get away for a whole weekend because of commitments with work, volunteering or (at the moment) meetings with estate agents as I’m selling my flat. I try to at least get out for a bike ride a few times a week, though!
Best pub in Hampshire for warming up post-adventure?
The Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard is great in winter. Fires, beautiful views and some lovely gins!
Are there any prominent outdoor or adventure sport figures who inspire you?
Not in the sense that I want to head off into the jungle any time soon, but I love following Pip Stewart’s adventures. I met her at Buckingham Palace last year and she is also just the loveliest person!
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into an outdoor pursuit?
Just get out and get started! If you think you’ll love it or if you think you won’t, you still need to find out. So just have a go, get stuck in and have fun!
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