Hey, can you tell everybody where you are based and what you do?
I'm based in Lochaber, in the West Highlands of Scotland. I trained as a geography teacher but I've had a varied career, and I'm currently working as a land use advisor. When I'm not looking at maps at my desk, I'm outside with my partner Ben and our two floppy eared woofies Orchy & Fiadh.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
I grew up on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. It's a remote area surrounded by sea to the north, west and south, so the outdoors has always been engrained into my life. My childhood was spent exploring the peninsula with my parents – on foot along the coastline or up onto the hills, and also by sea kayak. There was always a motto of “there's no such thing as bad weather.” We would waterproof from head to toe if need be. My favourite place to hang out was at the beautiful white sandy beach with my best friend, where we would get up to all kinds of nonsense!
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
I feel so grateful to have had a few amazing trips, but after I completed my teacher training I spent the summer travelling and visited two places I'd always wanted to see: Tofino in British Columbia, Canada and the Lofoten Islands in Norway. For me, the perfect location brings mountains and sea together, and both Tofino and Lofoten have both, and are insanely beautiful places. I remember blinking and thinking “am I really seeing this?”
Surfing in Tofino and scaling some amazing mountains in Lofoten will definitely be a life highlight for me. I feel like in this day and age beautiful places are getting busier and are having to adapt to cope with an increased number of people, particularly since the pandemic. I feel lucky to have visited when I did, especially as I don't fly abroad much at all now.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Fortunately, when you have two dogs they will always ensure you are getting outside enough each day! I'm lucky in that my work is flexible, so I can take a longer lunch break and get out for a good walk with the dogs, into the local woods or along the river. After a day at the desk my body craves movement: I enjoy planning what I'm going to do each evening for exercise. Sometimes the house doesn't get cleaned for a few days, but it'll get done eventually!
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
.I think upbringing was a big part of it for me – getting out for walks was important family time and I've continued this into my own adult life. One positive aspect of social media is being able to follow incredible athletes, nature writers, photographers and other people who help to inspire me further. There is so much to gain from spending time in nature – from physical and mental wellbeing to learning about local ecology, geology, geography...
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
I remember years ago I was struggling with my mental health and feeling very stressed because of my job at the time. Alongside a regular yoga practice, being active outside really helped me to look after myself. At the time I was training for a half marathon, and was doing a lot of trail running in the woods and along the beach. If I'm honest, I think this, together with having supportive friends and family, stopped me from having a complete meltdown.
What is it about your hobbies specifically that you love?
For me it's all about variety. Living in the Scottish Highlands, the weather is sometimes a challenge and there are particular activities I choose to do in bad weather, like trail running. Dry summer evenings make me long for mountain bike rides, and warm summer days urge me into the river for a dip. Sometimes, it's just a simple walk with the dogs. I listen to my body and what it wants and plan from there.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I think I discovered Findra around 2020. I was working as a field studies tutor and spent most of my working day outside teaching, and quickly realised that wool was the best material for staying warm whilst doing a lot of standing around talking on a hillside or by the coast! Thinking back, I think my first purchase was one of the stripey betty neckwarmers. The Marin cowl neck is my all time favourite. I possibly have it in 3 colours now...
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard, do your best, and smile. I've tried hard to make it my philosophy!
On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
It doesn't have to be a big outing. Even a short stroll in a local area will help clear the head and get the the blood pumping around the body. It can be purely about the physical movement, like striving for a PB, but there is also an opportunity to learn more about nature. Whether it's local tree species in a park, summer wildflowers in a meadow, local bird life... Nature is at threat and we should all be doing our bit to fight for it and look after it.
I'm a big reader, so picking one favourite book is very tricky! When I read 'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens, I thought it stood out as the best novel I'd read in a long time. The author's descriptions of the location are wonderful.
My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit.
This song is made even more special by the video on YouTube of people night skiing with colourful lights. I find the song empowering.