Tor McIntosh: three minute interview

Founder of the ​Slow Adventure Company, Tor McIntosh – a teacher from Devon, strives to make it easier for people to get outside and enjoy the countryside on their own adventures.

One of the main reasons Tor McIntosh – a freelance journalist from Devon – decided to start the Slow Adventure Company was to make it easy for anybody to get outside. Her mission statement is: “To make it effortless for folk to experience slow-paced, human-powered adventures in the outdoors, and to benefit from the simple pleasure and restorative value of exploring wild, natural places.”

What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?

It’s a welcome responsibility to promote the benefits of spending time outside and encourage as many people as possible to reap these benefits. It also means continuing my own personal commitment to #GetOutside – to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

What are the benefits to you of being outside?

I spent many years only focusing on the physical benefits of being active outdoors, but these days I’ve become more attuned to the psychological benefits I get from spending time outside. Whether it’s a long bike ride across Exmoor on a Sunday or escaping from my desk for a brief walk during a lunch break, being outside resets my mind, refocuses my thoughts and, quite frankly, cheers me up if I’m starting to slump. It is my medication. And I’m addicted to it.

What do you most enjoy about being outside?

The visual enjoyment is the scenery and observing the landscape surrounding me. However, I equally adore the feeling of being outside, which is manifested via breathing in the fresh air and feeling the elements on my skin; the sun beating down on my bare arms; a howling wind whipping past my ears; or missiles of rain pelting my face. This is what makes me feel truly alive.

What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc.)

Ooo tricky! I don’t have a clear favourite, as I love to explore all terrain. But, as I grew up in Cornwall and now live by the coast in North Devon – and pledged to walk all of the South West Coast Path – then coastal terrain just pips the others to the post.

What do you like about Great Britain?

Flying back to the UK from abroad I love looking out the plane window and observing the vast stretches of coastline and the patchwork of green fields. It always makes me appreciate the UK’s landscape and its “green and pleasant land”.

Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?

The South West Coast Path, especially in North Cornwall – remote, dramatic, wild and stunningly beautiful.

What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?

Walking/long-distance hiking and cycling (leisure + touring).

How would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?

Being outside makes me feel content and it gives me a feeling of freedom, both physically and mentally.

When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?

Anybody who has worked in an office environment with me and then seen me in my favoured environment, the great outdoors, will see that I transform when I’m outside: I’m more positive, my energy levels are higher, and I believe that anything is possible.

Why should people #GetOutside more often?

There are so many reasons, but I strongly believe that it is good for your heart, mind, body and soul.

What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?

By not going outside you are missing out on our planet’s greatest natural resource, the Great Outdoors. It’s open 24/7, 365 days of the year, and it’s free. No hidden fees. No contract. So, what are you waiting for…?

Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?

I don’t think there is one thing that can be blamed. Instead it’s a multitude of factors linked to our modern Western way of living. Over time we’ve become a nation, and we’ve created a culture, that is dependent on the latest technology, which tends to be targeted at both convenience and speed. For example, modern transport has been designed to get us places quickly and conveniently, therefore more people opt to drive to work or commute by train or bus, rather than the less convenient and much slower forms of transport such as walking or cycling. A further analysis of this example is the distance people tend to commute to work has vastly increased over the past decade or so, and this can be linked to the rise in house prices, the tricky job market, etc., meaning it’s just not practical to #GetOutside as part of your commute. The basis of these ideas and my thinking have come from reading/watching Carl Honoré’s book and TED talk, In Praise of Slowness

What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?

What should you do? You should slow down…

What should you take?

  • A deep breath
  • Time to appreciate the view/the place/the landscape/the natural environment/the people
  • The finest not the fastest route
  • Suitable clothes and footwear
  • A compass and an OS map!

What tips or pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to get more out of being #Outside?

Primarily, just enjoy whatever you’re doing outside. It’s not about climbing the highest mountain, cycling the furthest, running the fastest – it’s about doing activities outside that benefit you.

Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey?

The only map that I use when planning trips and exploring the UK

What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?

Generally I don’t listen to music when I’m outside as I’m a strong believer in connecting with the natural environment using all your senses. But on very long, solo bike rides you will find me singing along to Johnny Cash tunes or listening to Desert Island Discs and BBC Women’s Hour podcasts.

What are your backpack essentials?

A flask of Earl Grey tea and my camera.

What’s your favourite food when you are outside?

Soreen malt loaf (although over the years I may’ve OD’d on it), but on day-long hikes I adore a simple DIY packed lunch of fresh baguette, cheese, some crisps, an apple and a slice of homemade cake.

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