Phoebe Smith
  • OS Champion

Phoebe Smith

Meet Phoebe Smith – Extreme Sleeping, wild camping adventurer; award-winning travel writer, author, photographer and broadcaster.

What drives you to spend time outside?

The chance to feel like a small part of such a bigger picture, heading to the wilderness allows me to disconnect from all the madness of the modern world and reconnect with all that is more important. I come back feeling refreshed and ready to face anything. If I could bottle and sell the feeling I get from a night’s wild camping I’d be a rich woman!

Where are your favourite places to go?

The wilder the better, and the higher the happier. For me spending the night on a mountain summit, far from any road, with my tent or bivvy is as good as it gets. Some of my all time favourite places are Fisherfield (far north Scotland), the Glyders (Snowdonia), the fells above Ennerdale (Lake District) and the Pembrokeshire coast (Wales).

What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?

Sleep! Seriously, several nights spent outdoors is utter bliss for me – moving in the days and then setting up camp and watching the wildlife move closer, the birds swoop overhead, the sun set and the stars come out to play. Whether rain or shine, I don’t care, in fact falling asleep cocooned in a sleeping bag while the rain taps on your tent is probably the soundtrack to some of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Who inspires you and how?

When I was growing up there were very few female role models I knew about – certainly the only time I ever heard about women in the outdoors was when I was in primary school and Alison Hargreaves sadly died on K2. Back then she was lambasted in the press for being a mother and leaving her kids with their father while she went on expedition, yet her male counterparts never received the same criticism. As such I’ve made it my mission to find other female figures from the past who have been lost to the history books, which I highlight each month in my Wander Woman Podcast. There are some great names out there – from Ada Blackjack to Katherine Routledge. I have also worked hard to help inspire the next generation of female adventurers by writing about my wild camping escapades in my many books – such as Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper and in articles I write for newspapers, magazines, websites and radio.

What are your focuses this year to help people get outside more often?

At the moment I know there are thousands of people in the UK suffering due to lockdown – especially if, like me, they thrive on heading out for days with a tent and walking the wilderness. So for the time being I’m using my social media to help people notice the little things on walks closer to them – I’ve stepped up my macro photography, started to learn my wild flowers and am actively trying to work out birds from their song (not easy, but hugely rewarding when you get it right!). Once this is over and we are free to explore I’ll be back to my UK-based adventures with my teammate and fellow #GetOutside Champion Dwayne Fields as we seek to challenge the traditional face of adventure and prove that there are some epic expeditions you can have right here in Britain. Before new year we spent 40 days walking the length off the mainland from the true north at Dunnet Head to the true south at Lizard Point, wild camping everyday, pulling all our equipment Antarctic-style in pulks and wild camping every single night – we called it Seabirds to South. It was the ultimate way to see the country – in 1,333km (828miles).

What are your 3 biggest life achievements?

1. Setting up the #WeTwo Foundation with my teammate Dwayne Fields, it’s not about planting flags, but planting seeds. As such in 2021 we will be working with a group of underprivileged young people to get them to engage with nature, wildlife and the environment by taking them to Antarctica via expedition ship. We will then ensure that every aspect of the trip is carbon neutral and help them set up initiatives in their local communities to inspire others.

2. Raising more than £42k for the young people’s homeless charity Centrepoint, through giving up Christmas twice to Sleep the 3 Peaks and Walk and Wild Camp Hadrian’s Wall, solo, dressed as Wander Woman; then dangling on portaledges off 10 UK landmarks (including sea cliffs, a football stadium and the Centrepoint tower in Central London) on 10 consecutive nights with my Team Extreme in 2018.

3. Summoning the courage to go on my first solo wild camp over 12 years ago – it completely changed my life and has been the catalyst for all my other adventures.

3 words you live by…

Actually, I can.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

An inflatable pillow, lots of chocolate and always, always a hot water bottle!