Fi Darby
  • OS Champion

Fi Darby

OS Champion

Meet Fi Darby – Freelance outdoor writer and instructor, wild camper, sea swimmer and avid hiker.

Fi Darby

Fi Darby

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m middle aged! There you go, I said it! Most people don’t like admitting to middle age but I’m really enjoying it. There are downsides of course, like dodgy knees, but there’s so much to be said for experience (and the children leaving home). I’ve been enjoying myself in the outdoors for so long now, I feel really comfortable with it. I’m a freelance outdoor writer and instructor and work with young people and adults teaching navigation and expedition skills. I would say I’m most happy when I’m outside but I love planning my walks, swims and camps as much as I do experiencing them.

Why do you love the outdoors?

There’s always so much discover when you’re outside. I don’t mind if I’m in a city or exploring a wilderness, I just like looking, seeing and often writing about what I find. Getting moving after a long week in the office, sitting in the dark on the hill, finding a small piece of history, you can do all of these things when you’re outside. And, because our natural world is so unpredictable, you never quite know what your next outside experience is going to be.

How do you get outside?

I open the front door! Since the pandemic I’ve really enjoyed exploring more locally. I’m lucky enough to live by the South Devon coast and have three beaches within a 30-minute walk. Walking is my favourite outdoor fun activity but I use it for transport as often as I can too. My morning exercise is a walk down to the beach, a chilly sea swim and then a walk back up our super-steep hill. I love all types of camping, including my camper van and this year I’ve been undertaking lots of outdoor adventures by train. It’s been great fun, better for the environment, and nowhere near as challenging as I thought it would be.

What’s your favourite route?

My favourite route is always the next one I’m planning to walk. I love the anticipation and research that goes into a new walk. I’m as happy wandering round my local copse as I am exploring the Cairngorm Mountains but it’s always Dartmoor I come back to. I love this walk up from Ivybridge train station. One day I’ll tell you what happened when I wild camped up there! (OL28)

Fi Darby

Fi Darby

Have you got any adventures planned?

This year I’ve been ditching the car and trying out some more sustainable adventures by train. My collection of train adventures is growing and includes sea swimming, wild camping and city-to-city canal walking. It’s been great fun. We’ve recently adopted a Jack Russell puppy, who loves the outdoors as much as I do, so my next challenge is to include him in my adventures. Soggy tent dog anyone?

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

This is going to sound crazy but I carry a thick rubble sack in all of my rucksacks. They are really useful for waterproofing gear, sitting on, isolating wet kit, and all kinds of other outdoor fun. I’ve even used one for tobogganing in Norway!

Who inspires you to get outside?

These days it’s my puppy! He’s always up for an outdoor adventure. I’m not sure other people inspire me to get outside but I do find the idea of exploration fascinating. I want to discover new things wherever I go, even if it’s just in my local area. As an outdoor writer, my job is to inspire other people to get outside but the job itself inspires me, I love thinking about what my readers might enjoy and how I can make it easier for them to experience an outdoor life.

What do you prefer: Paper or digital map?


I always use a paper map and compass for on-the-ground navigation (for so many reasons but mainly because I love having the skills) but I also love planning walking routes and getting ideas for exploration from OS Maps. I use both in my work, I’m a navigation and expedition instructor as well as being an outdoor writer but I’m always most proud when I’ve taught someone else to use a paper map and compass.