Bike exploring: Help for Heroes
OS GetOutside Champion, Helen Pollard, takes us on a great Mountain Bike (MTB) route used as part of the delivery of MTB leadership training to Phoenix House staff in collaboration with Cycling UK.
Meet Eli Bishop - Found climbing mountains and paddling rivers for mental health.
What drives you to spend time outside?
For me being outdoors is the perfect remedy for everyday life; the stress & anxieties it brings and that you can achieve good physical and mental health by getting outside.
Where are your favourite places to go?
The Wye Valley has to be top of my list of places to go. It’s on my doorstep and enables me to walk in forests and hills, climb the crags that are dotted along the valley and I can canoe, paddleboard and swim in the Wye. It is also a short distance to the Brecon Beacons and more importantly the Black Mountains which is where my passion for the outdoors was born many years ago and is still to this day ‘my somewhere’.
What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?
My favourite thing to do outdoors? That isn’t fair! There are so many things I love about doing. I am first and foremost a walker, being in the hills and mountains is my first love, but I am also a kayaker, paddle boarder, I canoe, I climb, I mountain bike and wild swim, I ski, sail, I love wild camping and bushcraft. I think it is easier for me to say what my least favourite thing is which would have to be caving. Other than that I am pretty much game for anything and instruct most of it already!
Who inspires you and how?
There are so many people who inspire me. My Dad for instilling in me the love of the outdoors, maps and exploring from an early age, my Mum for being strong, independent and outspoken. My kids inspire me every day, I am in awe of them! I could list adventurers and fellow outdoorsy folk but actually the people who inspire me the most are the people who juggle everything life has to throw at them and still manage to spread joy, happiness and kindness in their paths.
What are your focusses this year to help people get outside more often?
I am passionate about enabling everyone to access the outdoors for their mental health and wellbeing. There are so many people out there doing amazing things; climbing this, running that, breaking records, being the fastest, going the furthest, being the first, having a unique selling point on Instagram; however I want to focus on wellbeing, for everyone. Slow days and slow ways with mental health at the centre of it all. Leading walks, inspiring others, working, public speaking and making the outdoors accessible and achievable. We would all love to be Adventurers with a capital ‘A’ but for 99% of us that just isn’t possible. I do however have a few little adventures that are brewing that will be fun and also highlight getting outside as the perfect tool for mental health.
What are your 3 biggest life achievements?
My kids - cliche but true. Realising that getting outside for my mental health is amazing! And becoming a Mountain Leader. The fact that I achieved this amongst so much turmoil still fills me with pride.
3 words you live by…
Kindness, honesty and adventure.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Peanut M&M’s... and cheese and banana on toast. It had to be food, its always food.More from Eli Bishop