‘The outdoors will give you more than you can ever understand without feeling it first-hand.’ Mountain biker, hiker, surfer and Wonderful Wild Women ambassador Kate O’Callaghan lives and works in The Lake District, and shares with us the ways that the outdoor inspires her adventures - from the every day to the epic!
Hey Kate - Tell everybody where you are based and what you do!
Hey, I’m Kate and I am based in the Lake District. I am a mountain biker mostly but like to try my hand at anything outdoorsy! My other main hobbies are surfing and hiking.
How long has the outdoors been part of your life?
I grew up on the outskirts of a city so didn’t have much to do with the outdoors when I was growing up, a few things here and there but I was properly introduced to adventure when I joined the army at 16. It took a back seat for a while and then about 9 years ago when I met Danny I really found my passion.
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
This is a hard one to answer, I love all our adventures for different reasons, each place we have travelled to makes a mark and changes me somehow. We experience so many different cultures, see so many different environments and landscapes I fall in love with them all. Each adventure challenges me in a different way. I think that is what I love most about adventure, how it challenges and changes you as a person.
My most recent big adventure was a coast-to-coast MTB ride with my friend Sophie, we bike packed from Ardnamurchan Lighthouse to Aberdeen off road, 450km over 5 days with around 6000m of ascent, self supported. This was such a great experience, challenging, healing, riding through beautiful areas continuously, we loved every minute of it. We were raising money for two charities close to our hearts and raised a massive £8000, we were totally overwhelmed.
A week or so after I did another bike packing challenge with my friend Katie, that was 100miles across the Lake District. Another epic adventure and we loved it. Challenging of course but wonderful.
The last few weeks Danny and I have been exploring the Outer Hebrides and the west coast of Scotland, we have been biking, hiking, swimming and paddle boarding. We rode the Postman’s Walk in Harrisand that was amazing, enjoying a route that the postman had walked for over a decade to keep his village connected to the outside world before roads were put in. The scenery on that route was breath-taking. Each day of our adventure gave us something amazing and we just loved it.
I guess that is the thing about adventures, they bond people, they give you something you can't get anywhere else, they create stories and memories that last a lifetime and are passed on through generations.
How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities such as work and family?
I am lucky enough to have a flexible working life. I work in an industry that develops people - we deliver apprenticeships and also experiential learning in the outdoors so they understand that we need that in our own daily lives too. Being outdoors and active is hugely important to me and my husband so we make sure it is always a priority in day to day life. Mini daily adventures through the working week, bigger adventures of a weekend and epic adventures on our holidays.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
Danny, my husband and his love of adventure inspires me, he is my favourite adventure buddy! I am a Wonderful Wild Women ambassador https://www.instagram.com/wonderfulwildwomen/?hl=en and that community inspires me constantly from a person’s first experience in the outdoors to some of the epic challenges that are shared with us. The wonderful wild women team and my pals that I ride / hike / play with all inspire me.
Do you find that spending time in the outdoors has a positive impact on your well being and mental health?
Being outside has a huge impact on my wellbeing and mental health – it is my go to therapy. If I am having a bad day I know that being outside will make everything seem so much lighter. I recently lost my mum and the outdoors and adventures have helped me through it massively.
What is it about mountain biking that you specifically enjoy?
I love the freedom of mountain biking, being able to explore further and push myself harder to achieve the summit, then the adrenalin and challenge of the descent. I just genuinely love being outdoors, biking in the hills or surfing / paddle boarding / swimming. Doing this with our friends and having amazing adventures, making memories together is what living is all about.
When did you discover FINDRA?
Mostly since Danny became a brand ambassador.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
From my dad – “Life, family and friends will always be more important than money. Be kind, be humble and live your life you way”
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?
The outdoors is powerful, it’s healing, it’s challenging and unpredictable, it’s more beautiful than you can imagine and the pictures you see online never do it justice so get out there and experience it for yourself. If you are nervous, start small, tag along with someone experienced, join a group like Wonderful Wild Women. The outdoors will give you more than you can ever understand without feeling it first-hand. Go for it - you won’t regret it.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
From the author of The Kite Runner, this is a heartfelt saga about two Afghan women whose friendship shines with hope and humanity against the backdrop of war and destruction.
The Postman’s Walk in Harris is a route that the postman had walked for over a decade to keep his village connected to the outside world before roads were put in. The scenery is breath-taking.
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Favourite Music: Fir Wave by Hannah Peel
The title track to the Mercury Prize shortlisted album by Hannah Peel which is self produced and self released, this eight minute electronic composition is beautiful, mediative and mesmerising.The album itself looks at the patterns in nature and how that relates to electronic music. Fir Wave is based on the pattern of fir trees on a mountain side and the wave regeneration caused by the wind. Sit back and let it wash over you.