Debbie North
  • OS Champion

Debbie North

OS Champion

Meet OS Champion Debbie North – Lover of mountains, presenter, writer, wheelchair user, adventurer, tea drinker

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I have recently become a widow, and now adapting to life without my soulmate, Andy. He kept be going and if it wasn’t for him, I would not have had the adventure that I have had. I made a promise to him that I would keep having adventures and so I must, though it is not easy. Together with the support of my family and friends, we have set up a charity called ‘Access the Dales’ which is about inspiring people with disabilities to get outside into the Yorkshire Dales. We have created wheelchair hubs around the dales for people to borrow and access places that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Why do you love the outdoors?

I love the freedom of the hills. The higher I can go the better. I love the views and that feeling of achievement when you do something that you didn’t think was possible, but then you make it happen. And you look back and say, “I did that.” I love the mountains and the hills. I’m a Yorkshire lass and love the Dales – but give me any hill or mountain to climb and I’m happy.

I feel closer to Andy when I am outdoors.

How do you get outside?

I have a range of different wheelchairs that I use for different outings. I am now learning to go solo, which is scary. I have beautiful friends that help me to get outdoors, and I use organisations that help disabled people to have adventures outdoors.

What’s your favourite route?

I don’t have a favourite route. When people ask me that, my answer is always ‘The last walk that I did!’

Debbie North

Debbie North

Have you got any adventures planned?

I’ve just completed canoeing the Caledonian canal, which was totally awesome. I’ve also bought myself a small campervan and I’m going out and about in it, exploring new places.

I’m sailing around the Outer Hebrides next year. I have just been appointed Cabinet Office DDA ambassador for the countryside. It’s a three year appointment and by the end of the term of office I want to look back and say that I have I have created new opportunities for people with disabilities to get outside.

What’s the most essential thing on your kit list?

Apart from my wheelchair, I also have a pair of wet legs as sitting down in the rain my lap always fills up with water!

Who inspires you to get outside?

Andy has inspired me to continue my outdoor adventures. I want him to be proud of me, for what I have achieved so far and what I will continue to do.

My favourite quote is from Alfred Wainwright, “You were made to soar, to crash to earth, then to rise and soar again.’ Each time I have a new adventure I use this quote as my mantra.

What do you prefer: Paper or digital map?

(Controversial we know!) I use both.