GetOutside Champion Debs Butler takes us on her stand up paddleboarding river trip in the Midlands.
Meet Abbie Barnes - Backpacker. Dog lover! Brew-drinker. Creative. Wildflower-mad!
What drives you to spend time outside?
The outdoors is everything to me. A place of learning, inspiration, creativity, grounding, work and play. I always feel at my best whenever there is open space and nature around me!
Where are your favourite places to go?
I always look forward to my annual trip to the Lake District - its such a special place to me for so many reasons and i enjoy documenting my hikes around the national park through film. I love losing myself through fossilling on Charmouth Beach, wandering along my morning walk, hiking new long distance trails and spending time with my dogs out and about on our local loops.
What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?
Hiking/backpacking, walking my doggies (Penny the westie and Bobbie the yorkie), traditional archery, mindfulness and meditation, fossilling, rock pooling, bush craft and wild cooking, skimming stones, discovering and ID-ing wild flowers - basically anything and everything is better when done out doors.
Who inspires you and how?
I am inspired by many people! i have a bunch of pod-casters that i follow closely and listen to each day. These amazing individuals are my mentors and coaches. They inspire and motivate, encourage and educate, comfort and empower. Some cover topics around wellbeing and health, others are more adventure/expedition focused. Either way, over the last year these people have seen me grow and flourish in a way I could have never anticipated. I am a big reader too! Brene Brown, for example, has been a huge inspiration to me over the years and continues to drive me forwards in pursuit of being true to the best I can be. Similarly, women like Felicity Aston and Roz Savage played a huge role during my childhood in inspiring me to dream big and pursue my passion for the outdoors.
What are your focuses this year to help people get outside more often?
Connection and Community are my two key words for 2020. I am passionate about empowering and inspiring individuals to connect with the natural world and with each other for the benefit of mental and physical health. I have been exploring new ways to open doors
for people to achieve this sense of community on the ground as I truly believe this can give a deep and real sense of meaning and purpose.
What are your 3 biggest life achievements?
After winning a short film competition i was able to speak in the European Parliament at the age of thirteen about the unsustainable use of palm oil to MEP's, stressing the importance of the need to label the ingredient so customers can make and informed decisions as to whether they want to buy the product. In 2019 i walked the tour Du Mont Blanc solo in seven days. I planned the entire route myself and wild camped much of the way. The trail changed my life. At the time i was really struggling with my mental health and in a very vulnerable position, dealing with crippling anxiety and depression. Hiking each day whilst surrounded by snow capped mountains, turquoise glaciers and roaring rivers, provided me with an immense sense of space and relief, and the challenges the trail through my way saw me thrive an realise what it truely means to feel alive. i produced a film about the hike which can be found on YouTube.
I think one of my biggest life achievements is the founding of Spend More Time In The WILD. I forged the idea for the project in 2016 but i only really began to build to campaign properly in 2018. I have been struggling with my mental health for many years and realised how spending time outside not only gave a me a great sense of purpose, but opened the doors to reach out to others in similar situations. The mission statement of the project is to inspire and power individuals to get outside for the benefit of mental and physical health, whilst building meaningful connections with the natural world and each other. There are now over 2 millions people following WILD on YouTube, which offers feature length documentary films that follow my explorations along long distance walking trails around the world, to day walk adventures, gear reviews, hiking tips and advice videos, mindfulness exercises, wild food and cooking videos, and more. I also give inspirational talks and wellbeing workshops around the country at educational and work places, and run monthly WILD walks which are aimed at providing a safe space for attendees to build their hiking confidence and deepen their appreciation for the wild spaces in our country.
3 words you live by…
Use the time!
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I take great pleasure in a lot of things but rarely feel guilty about them! :)Click to see all 100 GetOutside Champions