This has been an incredible year for me and I had no idea it would pan out this way 12 months ago. It feels like most of the fun things that have happened were a result of me reaching out to someone when I didn’t think they would say yes. Whether that’s friends to join me on adventures, asking random strangers on Instagram to meet up or approaching various different organisations to pitch new opportunities.
The moral of the 2017 story — don’t be afraid to ask.
I kicked off the New Year with a trip to the Brecon Beacons in Wales with my friend Jason. Being somewhere new and getting outside is my top way to spend New Years Day, as it puts me in such a positive frame of mind for the year ahead.
As a gift for the YesTribe to say thank you for the support they’d given me in 2016, I decided to offer up, originally 8, free coaching sessions for anyone in the Tribe that needed support to move forward with a business that they’re currently working on. I loved giving back so much that I ended up helping almost 30 people on a whole array of ideas, from adventure based ones to sustainable fashion and outdoors education.
I also joined a wonderful panel of female adventurers at the Adventure Travel Show in London, hosted by Dave. We talked about everything from planning and funding to ice cream, cake and that you really don’t need to be an expert in anything to go on an adventure.
It was my best friend’s 30th this month so I took her on a micro-adventure to celebrate. We cycled out of her home and along cycle paths for roughly 30 miles, stayed in an AirB&B over night and then cycled back the next day. While we didn’t camp out that night, it is February after all and a little too chilly for her first wild camp, I did buy her a bivvy for future wild camping opportunities.
Later in the month I had some friends over to watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It takes an interesting look at conspicuous consumption and poses a call to live with less. Having, at the time of writing, lived pretty much out of a couple of bags for the best part of 18 months, I totally appreciate how little we need to live comfortably. And never more so than when on an adventure is this brought home even more, living simply, with only the possessions that you can comfortably carry.
In collaboration with my friend Dave, this month I launched Adventure Book Club. A community for those who want to read and live adventurously. We kicked off with our first book Revolutionary Ride by Louis Pryce and have since read some fascinating books including One Breath by Adam Skolnick, The Push by Tommy Caldwell and Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.
This was also the month for planning my next big adventure — to walk the length of Britain. It didn’t involve much planning to be honest, I just had a look at the rough route I wanted to take and worked out in the more remote areas where I could get food and shelter or find some where to camp. Beyond that and borrowing most of my kit from friends, I was lucky enough to be supported by some great companies. Going Solo Adventures provided me with a lovely Map of Britain buff, Odylique by Essential Care gave me their wonderful organic sunscreen, which was essential given I was to be outside almost everyday for 2 months, and ZeroSixZero created a brilliant tracker map so you could see my progress each day.
Here I was back at John O’Groats with a plan to keep walking for the next 8 weeks until I hit my end point of Land’s End. April saw me walk the length and breadth of Scotland, heading initially west along the north coast, before turning south at Durness until I crossed the boarder into England at Gretna on 1st May.
Scotland definitely had its tough days with 40+ mph winds and non-stop rain, but it also had delicious sea food and wonderfully kind people, who would often stop to offer me a lift, to which I would have to explain that I was walking in the middle of nowhere in this awful weather by choice. The best thing would be when I would see them later in the day, and they’d start cheering me on, in awe at how far I’d walked that day.
A sanctuary in the storm at the Kyesku Hotel.
Not long after crossing the boarder did I start to suffer from tendonitis. It resulted in me being rescued from the side of the road by strangers who then kindly put me up for the night, before I went to wait out a week on crutches at a friends house in the Lakes. To be honest, there are worse places to have an enforced holiday than the Lake District and the full two weeks I was there (both the week off and the following week walking through), were beautifully sunny, warm and dry.
Once back on the move and making my way down through England I decided I wanted to make back the time I’d lost while off on crutches so, knowing that between Chorley and Bristol is pretty flat, I decided to up my millage from 20 to 30 miles per day for 6 days straight. While I managed to do it, walking for 11+ hours a day with a 15kg backpack and now suffering from trench foot due to horribly wet conditions, this was pretty exhausting.
Needless to say, I made it. 57 days, 993 miles, countless incredible people helping me along my journey, including two people who found me from Instagram and turned up en route with cake and biscuits!!
Once home from the walk I was eager to get back on my bike and I was lucky enough to do that at the Women’s Tour of Britain final stage in London. I was 1 of 100 women representing cycling in London who completed a lap of the final stage before the professionals got underway.
With my cycling legs well and truly back I was keen to make the most of summer so one Monday after work I just kept cycling until I hit the coast some 5 hours later.
For a long time I’d been wanting to cycle from London to Bristol too, so I hoped on my bike to cycle almost 140 miles over two days and it was brilliant. This was also the first time I’d used Strava to track my route, which invariably meant that I forgot to turn it back on at one point, but it gives you a good idea of the route.
Loving the mini challenges of the summer so far I hoped over to the Isle of Wight for a long weekend circumnavigating the island by bicycle — it couldn’t have been better weather!
Following the coast for 3 days only made me want to jump back on a SUP. I’d done a couple of short day paddles over the summer but wanted a bigger challenge. My friend Chantell was now helping me run Adventure Book Club and we were inspired by this month’s book, Round Ireland with a Fridge. So we teamed up with Billboard to take their awesome new touring SUP boards for a spin in the Lake District, with a mini fridge. Curious as to what’s in the fridge?
Aware that September is really the last month of possible warmth in the UK before Autumn sets in I was keen to have another crack at LEJOG by bicycle, Luckily enough I managed it this time and even made an awesome new friend en route. Rory was cycling it too and our paths happened to cross just outside of Edinburgh. It was great to ride with him and I’m now part of his AdventureCrew blog.
My ride was slightly different this year in that I stopped off en route to speak at the National Trust South West Outdoor festival in Cheddar. A great weekend of races, speakers and good food. I also went sea kayaking in Devon and hoped over to Holy Island to learn about roasting coffee with Pilgrims Cafe.
The causeway to Holy Island.
It’s amazing how Instagram has played a key role in my adventures this year. Through it I made a new friend in spring, which lead to a photo shoot with Wiggle in October for their winter kit down in Dartmoor. It was a new experience being a model and I’m looking forward to seeing the official pictures once they’re released.
October is always Yestival month and this year Chantell and I organised an Adventure Book Club Corner, with a wonderful crowd keen to discuss all things adventure and reading related.
Not wanting to let the cold stop me from getting outside I organised a winter trails adventure on the west coast of Scotland, supported by Merrell. Their new Chameleon 7 shoe was brilliant for scrambling around on rocks, long hikes and cafe hunting in small towns around the Isle of Skye.
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
I also fancied having another go at climbing. I’ve only ever been indoor climbing and that was around 10 years ago. Rory, who I met during my LEJOG cycle, is a very experienced climber and handily he lives near the Lakes, so I hopped up one week for some exploring in the area. I have to say I quickly remembered why I hadn’t been climbing in so long — I’m bloody terrified of heights! A scramble up a big peak (big for me, anyway) outside, followed my a more gentle indoor session and I think I got my climbing fix for the next 12 months.
Since completing the walk I’ve been wanting to write a book about it, so this month I got my head down at a friend’s house in Barcelona and cracked on. Fingers crossed it will be ready some time next year, and of course, I can guarantee it involves lots of stories about cake!
As you’ll have seen across my social media, I’m also super excited about a little plan I have brewing for an adventure next year, which is on a completely different scale to what I’ve done before.
If you’re not terrified, you’re not pushing yourself — that’s what they say, right? Well, I think this qualifies.
Right now I couldn’t be more pumped for what lies ahead in 2018. A year of firsts, collaborations and hopefully even more epic adventures. Find out more about my SUP Britain World Record attempt over on my website.