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Everyday AdventurersEmma Lewis

By Leanne Downs25 February 2019

Emma Lewis is a mum of two, who discovered a love of the outdoors after she had major hip surgery and began walking as part of her rehabilitation. She shares her outdoor adventures with her family on her blog Hip2Trek. Today we chat to Emma about her favourite places, activities and getting the kids outside.

Hey Emma, Thank you so much for chatting with us today. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?

Hi I’m Emma, and I live in West Yorkshire with my family and two mad cats. As well as writing my blog at Hip2trek, I’m a Company Director, student, animal shelter volunteer and very occasionally I work as a film extra. I’m not very good at sitting still, can you tell?!

Have you always been outdoorsy? Can you tell us a little bit about your introduction to the outdoors and adventure activities?

I grew up not far from the Yorkshire Dales and Ilkley Moor was on our doorstep, so when I was a kid, we would go out for family walks. It’s only in the last few years though, I’ve become more outdoorsy. I no longer take getting outdoors for granted, it’s only when you can’t do something you realise how much you need it. I developed hip problems and needed two lots of major hip surgery in the last six years. It had become so bad that I wasn’t able to walk up the road with my new baby without being in agony, and then I was unable to drive. Part of my rehab after surgery, was to try and walk a mile, then a few more, then a bigger hill, a longer walk, and before I knew it, I had a love of walking and being outside. It was then I started blogging about our family walks, my hips and getting outside.

What is it that you love about being outdoors the most?

I love the freedom of being outside, as daft or as clichéd as it might sound. I’m a big worrier, but being outside I just take in my surroundings, enjoy the fresh air and exercise and then all of a sudden, I’ve forgotten what I was worrying about. I love the walks with my family and getting the kids away from the distractions of the TV and laptops. We talk about all sorts of things and I think our conversations are better than if we were sat around at home. I think the wide-open spaces are good for all of us, and there’s that feeling of euphoria when we come back from an outdoor adventure, tired and happy.

You live in Yorkshire, what are your favourite places to explore?

Without a doubt the Yorkshire Dales. Malham Cove is a particular family favourite, and one of my first ‘challenges’ after my surgery to attempt to walk again. We’re very lucky in Yorkshire though that the landscape is so varied with moors, fells, cities and beaches too.

What is your favourite natural place to visit in the UK?

Oh, there’s so many! I love Anglesey, where I lured my husband away from! It’s so beautiful and wild on a cold windy day. I also loved the dramatic beauty of the Loch Lomond area in Scotland, we only spent a few days there, but I really want to go back.

Where in the UK would you like to explore, but haven’t had the opportunity yet?

I would love to explore more of Scotland, especially the Cairngorms and the Highlands, perhaps bag a Munro whilst I’m there! Oh, and see the free ranging reindeers. I think the kids would love to see them too. There’s so much of Scotland I would like to see. We spent a few days one Christmas near Loch Lomond, but we just didn’t have time to go any further. We definitely didn’t do it justice. I would also love to walk the West Highland Way but haven’t found anyone brave enough to come with me.

What is your favourite activity to do on your own?

I like walking by myself, although it did take some getting used to and my imagination sometimes gets the better of me. Did that bush just move? Is there someone following me? Ah no, it’s a just bird or a squirrel! There’s a good walk I can do from my house and although not far from a town, you can feel you’re in the middle of the countryside. It’s a good workout, mostly on public footpaths with fields, streams to cross and a couple of big hills.

Have you ever done any formal training to help you learn any outdoors skills you have or are you completely self taught?

I don’t really have any formal training, apart from I did a NNAS Silver navigation award a couple of years ago. Walking with my family, especially small kids, I really thought I should learn how to navigate properly and read a map. Not that I was taking them out on mountains or anything like that! It’s something I think you need to keep practising though. I have considered looking at learning some more outdoor skills, maybe outdoors first aid or something like that.

What is your favourite memory from spending time outdoors?

My favourite outdoor memory was whilst doing a charity Great Wall of China trek. During my rehab after my second hip surgery, I felt I needed some motivation and to do something big. My parents were horrified when I told them of my plan, I don’t think they thought I would be able to do it. It brings tears to my eyes, but one day in China was particularly hard for most of us. As I entered a watchtower on the wall, there was a line of trekkers, all with their walking poles in the air, making an arch, singing. I joined the end of the line and then every trekker in our group got the same cheers, until we had all made it up to that watchtower. It was a magical moment and one that will stay with my forever.

What are you three favourite items of kit?

I don’t have loads of fancy kit or a big budget, so I’ve gradually been adding bits and pieces over the last couple of years. I love my Kiwi stretch pro trousers from Craghoppers that the ladies from the Outdoor Bloggers recommended. My trusty Coolmax walking socks from Regatta have never let me down and have come all over with me. I think socks can make a big difference so have stuck to the same type. I also love my Salomon walking boots.

What do you think is your biggest barrier to getting outside regularly and how do you overcome it?

I think time and money are the biggest barriers to getting outside regularly. Trying to cram the family commitments and activities, my homework, the kid’s homework and getting outside into a weekend can be hard. We do try and have a least one day at the weekend where we’ll go out and get some fresh air, even if it’s just the local country park. Now that I walk regularly, I’m a bit like a little dog that needs walking every couple of days, or I get twitchy legs!

Best pub in Yorkshire for warming up post city adventure?

Eek! That’s a really hard one. We’ve usually got the kids in tow, so warming up in city pubs is very rare! We’re not far from Leeds and like real ale, so Foley’s Tap House on The Headrow is worth a visit.

Are there any prominent outdoor or adventure sport figures who inspire you?

There’s so many inspiring outdoor or adventure people. I like following people like Laura Bingham, Kenton Cool and Ash Dykes’s adventures on social media, enabling me to see places that I wouldn’t be able to adventure in myself! I’m also inspired by the Ordnance Survey GetOutside champions, I like reading their advice and tips and their adventures seem a bit more accessible for me.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into an outdoor pursuit?

Just do it! I think the hardest part is making the decision and getting out of the door in the first place, but just do it. You won’t regret it. Obviously, I’m not suggesting anyone try and go walk up a mountain straightaway and you need to be safe. Start small and if you want to do something more technical get the right help from someone experienced in that activity.

Leanne Downs

About Leanne Downs

Leanne Downs is the content editor for Thryve and works as an outdoor writer, blogger and photographer. She loves hiking, hillwalking and wild camping.

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