Being outside means everything to me. I grew up walking the hills of the Lake District, so they feel like home. I love being out there by myself, I love being with friends or guiding a group. It is like a refresh button for the soul. Whether it is stopping to take in the views or flying down a singletrack focused on every movement and obstacle in your way. It’s a meditation. A focus. It brings me into the moment and spits me out on the other side feeling refreshed and alive.
A number of years ago I found myself in a dark time, a place where I was trapped for a number of years. There were no hills there, no bikes, no mountains to climb other than to escape the depths of darkness that consumed my soul. When I closed the door, the first thing I did was to climb a mountain, I was alive again. I then jumped back on my mountain bike and have been riding and hiking ever since. The journey to recover my mental health has been epic. It continues to have its challenges, but that is not surprising given the depths I fell to. If I didn’t have the anchor of the outdoors, I am not sure I would be here today. Friends and family have played their part in the recovery too, but without the opportunity to ride my bike, hike up a hill, ski down a mountain, the journey would have been much harder.
To go outside and do an activity is so beneficial for our mental and physical health. It can be anything from base jumping to just a short walk and sitting to take in the views. There are so many different activities to do, but we all have a common theme; a love of the outdoors. A passion for adventure. A path to wellness and peace. A journey of discovery, not only of where the trail will lead us, but of ourselves.
Helvellyn is a super special place to me. I started skiing on Raise at the age of 6 and have skied Helvellyn a number of times. I feel at home up there, it’s a place of comfort to me. I love that I can hike, ride or ski over and around this beautiful ridge line and I can call it my home. I have huge respect for this wild area that can sometimes be wild and inhospitable. At others, as calm as the night we enjoyed this ride.
In the last 6 years I’ve battled, not only with my mental health but with my physical health. I have intersitial cystitis which basically means my bladder is on fire and I often get flares of pain. If I do too much it is detrimental and results in pain, exhaustion and poor health. I’ve had to step back from activities, racing, guiding and being outside as much as I’d like, especially in the last two years. But I’m convinced it’s temporary and whenever I can, I go outside. I often push the boundaries too much, but I refuse to give up. Even if it’s for a shorter ride, a shorter hike or a run only a mile long. The benefits outweigh the negative!