What drives you to spend time outside?
There are so many reasons that make me want to #GetOutside! From curiosity (Where does that path lead? What bird is that? What lives down there?) to a need to spend time with nature as an antidote to the stresses of modern life. Immersion in wild places is how I ’press the reset button’ and I think getting outdoors is vital to our mental wellbeing.
Where are your favourite places to go?
I love discovering new places, the wilder the better! But I’m also very lucky that my home in North Skye has some spectacular scenery and wildlife, however much I explore there’s always something new to discover here.
What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?
I just love to be immersed in a landscape, watching the wildlife and feeling as if I’m part of nature. From uninhabited islands to ancient, moss-covered woodland (two of my favourite environments) there’s so much variety to discover. I love to forage, swim in pools or waterfalls and find cosy nooks to bivvy in (it’s nice not ton have the barrier of a tent). When you sit and watch the world around you you start to notice more; animals start to emerge and noticing tiny, magical things.
Who inspires you and how?
My biggest outdoor inspiration is the writer, Nan Shepherd. I love how her experience of nature isn’t about ‘conquering’ places or bravado, but getting to know them and enjoying the journey. Her book, The Living Mountain, is a love-letter to the Cairngorms and in it she describes getting to know the hills in great detail. She taught me to experience nature with all my senses. The conservationists Jane Goodall and Virginia McKenna are also huge inspirations for me.
What are your focuses this year to help people get outside more often?
This year I want to encourage people to #GetOutside and become more in tune with their natural environment. The more time we spend outdoors the more value we put on our parks and gardens and, in turn, helps drive us to want to protect them. The outbreak has been horrible and surreal but hopefully it will teach us how important our green spaces are to our mental and physical wellbeing as well as to wildlife.
What are your 3 biggest life achievements?
Spending a year living off-grid on a Scottish peninsula for a telly experiment. It was brilliant and awful (and a hundred other different things) and sticking it out for 12 months was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I ended up with severe depression and I’m proud of myself for pulling myself out of the other side of that. On the plus side, I’m now an expert fire-lighter who can milk a herd of goats and recommend the best moss to use as loo paper! I’m passionate about marine conservation so I enjoy the small achievements related to that. I think my favourite was successfully petitioning for Waitrose to stop selling unsustainable Antarctic krill oil (this industry has a huge impact on whales, penguins and seals!)
Since becoming a #GetOutside champion in 2018 I’ve received messages via social media about how I’ve inspired followers/friends to go outside, try beach cleaning, start camping alone or start camping more responsibly. Others have said that they can’t get out and that my stories about Skye cheer them up. These are just small messages but they mean the world to me.
3 words you live by
Can I break the rules and say, ”Never say no to an adventure”?! Okay, how about ’Leave No Trace’.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
If you’re not hurting others then no pleasure should be guilty! Though, I do have a fondness for a good whisky (every view is made better when enjoyed with a wee dram!)
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