Dragons Back Circular - Black Mountains
The Dragons Back walk starts in the small village of Pengenffordd within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It boasts fantastic views of the surrounding country side and the beautiful Black Mountains.
Meet Marie Cheng - Avid adventurer, mountain enthusiast and dog mum, usually found on the side of a mountain with a pair of ski or hiking boots!
What drives you to spend time outside?
The Disconnection: We are far more connected than we have ever been. And I’m the first to put my hands to admit that there are times I find myself hugely addicted to my phone. Being outdoors reminds me of the fact that sometimes less is often more when you’re able to turn off all the noise. Being on a mountain, going for a run or ski touring up a hill are hugely calming contrary to what many people might think! I often get asked “do you not just do a relaxing holiday?!” But when you’re trying to navigate so you don’t get lost or making sure you’re not falling off a ridge, you just can’t think of all the millions of stresses of everyday life!
Where are your favourite places to go?
It’s a tough one as there are so many amazing places in the UK and across the world. But if I had to choose, probably a remote backcountry huts skiing in Canada or Europe with warm homemade hut food after a tough day or waking up to sheep bleeting or nudging your tent just before sunrise whilst wild camping in Wales!
What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?
Definitely hiking or skiing. Hiking because I think it’s really accessible to all due to the fact that anyone can choose what level you want to hike for the day. It could be hiking up a trail with all your kit and camping for days across Scotland, or it could be a nice walk in the local woods to clear the cobwebs! We are really fortunate to live in a country that has some great open space and all you need really is a pair of hiking boots (and well maybe a good waterproof jacket!). Skiing, well that’s easy, I just love the snow!
Who inspires you and how?
I reckon we must all have our adventure idols; professional mountaineers and skiers, people whom we would love to go on expeditions with. But what inspires me just as much are the ordinary folk; people who set up walking groups to provide support networks to people starting out, people who work hard to increase diversity in the outdoors to all; people who do these things and fit it around their ordinary day-to-day jobs. Because it just proves it’s all entirely possible if you just put your mind to it.
What are your focuses this year to help people get outside more often?
Reaching out locally and organising local walks in the Peak District: Having moved closer to the Peak District from the city, I’m raring to explore even more the surrounding area. With other local champions, we would love to encourage people to get outside and join in by organising local events or group walks. Duke of Edinburgh: Having been a volunteer supervisor for Duke of Edinburgh for a few years for a few girl schools, I’m keen to continue to encourage more kids to get outside via the scheme as it’s a great way for people to get that early access to the outdoors and learn invaluable skills such as leadership and resilience. Diversity and Equality: Diversity and equality in the outdoors has become so much more prominent and talked about in the past few years. I, with others have been trying hard to encourage greater uptake and representation in the industry. There’s been a lot of positive steps but there is still a way to go and I’m keen to continue this drive in the next year to help improve better gender and racial diversity in the outdoors. There’s a few exciting projects being discussed in the pipeline so watch this space!
What are your 3 biggest life achievements?
Another tough question! Hmm not sure I have 3! The first is maybe setting up my own part time adventure travel company in 2017. The outdoors has become a huge part of my life and my adventures and travels has led me to take groups of people; for some of which is their first time; on expeditions overseas. It’s been an outlet for me to channel my efforts to try to positively impact the communities and environments in which we go and do some great things, and a way to hopefully share everything positive that I had experienced in the outdoors with others. the second is again around probably taking the plunge and relocating halfway across the country after a very long time living in the city! Change is often scary to a lot of people, and often it can be a lot easier to just not rock the boat and change the status quo. But after a VERY long time living in London, and getting sick of doing the weekend commute to and from anything with a hill bigger than 200m (!); it was time to up sticks, quit my job and move and start a new section of my life. The jury is still out, but so far I have had no regrets to the fact that I can drive 15 minutes and be in the middle of the English countryside! Going to struggle with a third!
3 words you live by…
Live your life (not the one that others have defined for you). Sorry I kinda cheated there!
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Ice cream. Definitely ice cream. Oh and maybe Murray Mints…!Click to see all 100 GetOutside Champions