Inspiration: Highlights From 2021

Inspiration: Highlights From 2021

We've so enjoyed reading about your adventures in the FINDRA journal during 2021. ‘What is it about your favourite activity that you love?’ always prompts an amazing response so, as inspiration for the new year, we’ve put together some of our favourite replies. From wilderness art to walking, Canicross to channel swimming, there’s a wonderful world of fun and adventures out there!


"Yoga has given me back my self-esteem. It has taught me a greater level of respect for my body and has created a healthier relationship with my thoughts. Teaching Yoga outdoors, be that on a paddleboard, in the woods, on a beach or in my garden helps connect me to my joy… I think teaching and inspiring others is my true purpose in life.”

Karen Maidment, yoga and paddle board teacher.


SUP Yoga


“Whether it’s climbing a hill, traipsing through a forest, or walking barefoot on a beach, it’s all good for the soul. The sense of space and stillness, the changing views, the appreciation of nature and general sense of freedom is a way of finding peace in our manic-digital-obsessed lives.

Moira and Steve Forsyth, Specialist for Scottish Enterprise and part-time Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Therapist, and retired teacher.


David Flanagan - Surfer


“Coming to it in middle age, I know I’ll never be any good at surfing and that simple acknowledgment takes the pressure right off. I have nothing to prove and nobody to impress. It’s all about joy, and the detail within the big picture – the play of sunlight on the water, the wildlife going about its business, the smell of salty air. Given my many fears and hang-ups relating to drowning, it took the best part of a decade for me to learn to turn my surfboard with any regularity, or effectiveness. I still frequently find myself flying straight towards the rocks of our boulder strewn point break, mesmerised by the light speed I’m apparently achieving, and overwhelmed by my place in this once forbidden realm.”

David Flanagan, journalist and writer.


“I love the sense that my own body can carry me distances over roads or trails, and I can get from A to B myself. I love those wonderful mountain bike rides where everything comes together and you’re flying down the trail almost faster than your brain can consciously follow, breathless and totally alive. I love the friends I’ve met and the communities that have welcomed me through bikes.”

Aoife Glass, mountain bike journalist

Mountain Bikers


“I love the counter-culture, the swoopy feeling, the community, the purpose, the mud - and remembering that the higher the heart rate, the calmer the mind.”

Dom Ferris, founder and MD of Trash Free Trails



“My favourite bit of swimming is that point about a minute after you’ve ducked your shoulders under the water, you’ve got your breath back and you start swimming. The feeling of welcoming the cold as it glides over your skin is the most cleansing experience.“

Emily Williams, knitwear designer

Wild Swimmers


“Learning to embrace the coldness of the sea has been life changing. It imparts a feeling of being totally surrounded by nature, in the elements, and delivers a huge endorphin boost that makes me feel extraordinarily good. I have a sense that water cleanses me of negative energy - I don’t think of anything at all when I’m swimming and my worries seem to wash away in the water. And the more intimidating the conditions, the more exhilarating the swim.”

Ros South, Channel Swimmer, cancer survivor and campaigner


“Bike-packing for me has it all. The freedom the bike gives you as you travel through wild places at pace, the simplicity of living with minimal possessions as you need to carry everything you take – up every hill! And the friendships you build along the way.”

Jenny Graham, world record holder for cycling around the world unsupported

Mountain Bike Adventures

“There are three things I love about cycle touring - first, it’s slow travel and you experience nature and the places you’re travelling through in a much closer way. You will not only see it but also feel it. Secondly, everyone you meet is nice, interested and wants to help if you’re in need. Usually I don’t find socialising easy, but so many people have a genuine interest in what we’re doing when we’re on the bikes. Lastly, while we are always a pair, you are still having to pedal every meter yourself. It’s a vacation together, on your own.”

Linda Devisch, cycle tourer and ‘moderate adventurer’

“Being on the move. On long distance bike adventures, I know that I’ll wake up the next morning with my muscles aching but I also know that, once I’m back on the move, I’ll be okay and will be able to keep moving forwards. It makes me feel strong within my body and I LOVE that!”

Vedangi Kulkarni, adventure traveller

Puncture Repair and Canicross


“It is not just running with your dog, it’s about the communication between you both, the bond you form and the trust you put into each other. Tilly has to listen to my commands, especially when we are in an event that we’ve not run before: she’s running out front, attached to me, so I need to trust that she knows what she needs to do at every turn.

Tilly has to know that my commands will get us to where we need to be. It’s a wonderful way for her to be mentally stimulated as well as physically. She really does work when she’s running in harness and takes her “job” very seriously.”

Lara Trewin (and Tilly the dog), Canicross devotees


“I love the fact that my own two feet can take me to such amazing places. I do like to push myself a bit outdoors, as I find that quite meditative. However, hill running, for me, is such a joyful activity. It’s like being a kid in an enormous playground – running through mud and heather, climbing big rocks, running fast downhill.

Ross Brannigan, hill runner and engagement officer for the John Muir trust


“For me, mountains have always been the preferred environment. Not solely summits - the glens and high corries hold equal appeal. I’ve never had much talent as a technical climber with running in the wilds being my preferred style but I’m as happy just rambling.

With a logbook (I like taking notes) going back over thirty five years I’ve yet to find a single trip where I returned feeling worse than when I left. Tired, cold & hungry but content at worst but more often returning with a deep sense of being able to deal with the noise of life that we’ve been taught to consider normal.

The outdoors strips away a lot of the veneer that we rely on day to day. We can simply need shelter, water, some food and warmth. I’ve shared hills, bothies and travelled with complete strangers yet never felt lonely and in comparison, felt a crushing loneliness in a room full of people I’ve known for years”

Graham Kelly, mountain leader and trail running guide Inspiration - Sam Gare Wilderness Artist


“My art helps me to truly see our natural world and experience it in a different way than say an activity like hiking or biking would. I’m just trying in my own way to give the natural world a voice and help others to realise its value. And at the same time, it helps me have a voice too – the simplicity of that motivates me.

Sam Gare, Contemporary Wilderness Artist

Family Cycling


“I love the fact that it’s helped me navigate the teenage years with my son Henry and daughter CeCe, who has physical and cognitive disabilities alongside autism. I enjoy sharing my happy place with them and giving them a chance to chat without the spotlight focus of a family meal table. Seeing each other overcome fears or challenges has given us a mutual respect which we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Cycling gives you a connection to the area you live in as well as a sense of your own identity. Conquering hills or mastering new routes reminds you that you can grow and tackle difficult things. I love how cycling makes CeCe smile; as we cycle I listen to her behind me, chattering and singing, interspersed with the odd ‘I love you Mum”.

Vicky Balfour, bike mechanic

Favourite Book

The Art of Wild Swimming Scotland by Anna Deacon

Wild Swimming Scotland

And not just because there’s a FINDRA bobble hat on the cover!

This book explores what makes the perfect swim. It's about the most magical Scottish locations (and how to protect them), finessing your kitbag, keeping yourself and others safe . . . and maybe discovering a nice place for a warm-up cuppa and cake. Whether you're a seasoned dipper or a fledgling, The Art of Wild Swimming is the ultimate guide to becoming an awesome, joyful and responsible swimmer. From the dramatic turquoise bays of Orkney to the peaty lochs of the Cairngorms, the thundering waterfalls of Skye to the calm depths of a reservoir in the Pentlands, the book shares over 100 spectacular dookin' spots across Scotland.

We’ll be interviewing Anna in our journal next month - do look out for the post in your inbox.

Favourite Film

Brave Enough by Jo Mosely

Brave Enough - A Journey Home To Joy from Passion Fruit Pictures on Vimeo.

The film follows Jo’s 162 mile long journey - by paddleboard - from Liverpool to Goole along the Leeds Liverpool Canal and Aire & Calder Navigation.

Brave Enough is a story of how, step by step, day by day, Jo rediscovered herself, her purpose and happiness again after a very low point in her life. It's about discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, cherishing the smallest of joys and the magic of adventures on our doorstep. It's about rediscovering movement and exercise in midlife and realising that it doesn't have to be about losing weight or competition but simply 'for the joy it brings.’ It's about knowing that you are never too old to start a new dream and it's never too late to make a difference.

We highly recommend it.

Favourite Quote:

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
William Shakespeare

Favourite Music Fir Wave by Hannah Peel


The title track to the 2021 Mercury Prize shortlisted album by Hannah Peel, Fir Wave is an electronic composition based on the pattern of fir trees on a mountain side and the wave regeneration caused by the wind. It is as beautiful, meditative and mesmerising as you would expect.

The album itself looks at the patterns in nature and how that relates to electronic music. Sit back and let it wash over you.

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