Welsh dynamo and Tweed Valley resident Rickie Cotter explains how curiosity drives her passion for the outdoors and how time in the mountains leads to a sense of peace.
Hi Rickie, and to start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
I am based in the glorious Tweed Valley but am originally from Wales and I work as a painter and decorator.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
The outdoors has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
I’m lucky enough to be of an age where your parents turfed you out in the morning to go play and you’d return home at night covered in sand, mud and usually blood (from grazed knees). I was used to being cold, wet and hungry which set me up well for the future.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
My favourite trips are usually the solo ones. I do love adventuring with others but its totally different to travel alone.
I have been lucky to travel all over the globe but I still have a deep fascination with Scotland (it’s so brutal and beautiful all at once) and engaging in other cultures makes me humble and appreciative of my freedom as a Western woman. And that can only be learnt in the far flung corners of the world.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Sometimes I feel my balance between work and play isn’t quite right.
We are programmed to work and I do believe we should all fund our own lifestyles, but sometimes I really crave emptiness. I know myself well enough now that when that desire is distracting then its my time to put down the paint brushes and head to the hills. Finding a calm place to reset is key for me to feel balanced, that might be by running, biking or wild swimming. Movement for me is peaceful, especially when amongst the hills.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
It was not so much a person that inspired my love of the outdoors, but it was curiosity. I couldn’t afford a car or a laptop, but I did have a bike and I literally wanted to know what was over the hill. Once I rode from London to Istanbul and it blew my mind, the doors flung open and from then on I always asked myself “Whats out there then?”.
Nature is so beautiful I just wanted more of it, I wanted to be gently part of it. Im inspired by nature’s resilience and awed by the grandeur of it – what better way to see it than by foot or bike?!
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Without being outside I probably wouldn’t have such purpose. I live for the outdoors, it’s part of who I am. I need to feel the elements, to wander without necessity amongst the hills. For the mind and body it’s essential for me. My wellbeing depends on it.
What is it about cycling and running specifically that you love?
My love of cycling and running gives me many things. I love the freedom of it all. Sometimes I’m fast, sometimes I’m slow, but it doesn’t matter.
I appreciate every day that my body is working and I have enough spare time to do these things. It’s brought many amazing people into my life and taught me many things about myself.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I discovered FINDRA through a group of like minded women who were starting to use it on the hill. I had a pair of FINDRA Shorts that I used for a bike ride from Canada to Mexico (some 4,000km plus) and they’re still in use today!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve been given is “No matter what, you always have a choice, it’s down to you.”
I was really struggling on my path at the time. I had no money, my housing situation was awful, my job was soulless and a youth worker looked me straight in the eye and said that line to me. Bizarrely it was like he believed in me, he was empowering me to make the situation better myself. From that day forward, everyday, I chose to make it.
Even now I still have to apply that concept, wether it be to emotions, work, friends, finances. Always remember you have a choice.
In this post, 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?
Connect. Connect with nature, discover it and go looking. It’s all out there. It doesn't need to be ‘epic’ or ‘gnarly’. Wander with an open mind, let curiosity lead you and you’ll be amazed what you discover if you let nature in.
Learn and share what you discover.
Protect and respect what it gives you, honour the landscape and it will treat you with the best light shows you’ll ever see, the best thundering waterfalls you could ever swim under and an endless horizon where dreams are drawn out to, if you let it.
Theres a whole other world out there waiting for you, what are you waiting for?
Awesome, thanks Rickie. You’re a genuine inspiration!
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Everything I’ve learned about the outdoors comes from within the pages of books, so I simply can’t pick just one. Here are 3 of my favourites from this year.
The Munros by Harveys Maps
It’s a complete collection of all the Scottish Munros. A collection of not just maps, but of secrets hidden within the landscape. When I open the pages I can visualise potential adventures and I get excited by the scale of it all. It makes me curious and excited.
The Rough Stuff Fellowship Archive
This is a collection of photos found in the archive of a cycling club that pioneered exploration by bicycle. It’s truly bonkers to see the places these men and women went with the kit they had in those days – mostly wool I may add!
I can feel the camaraderie through the pages. The simple pleasure of journeying beyond their own horizons. In a noisy social media world it’s refreshing to see these people just doing it for fun I can really relate to that. The joy is in the journey.
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
This book lay unpublished for 40 years in a drawer. In a world with a distinct lack of female voices in mountain literature it was a travesty that these words were not seen and read until the later half of her life.
To write about the mountains is really difficult, this is because to verbalise something that means so many different things to different people is almost impossible and yet to this day her words ring true and relevant.
I only wish she was alive to pen her relationship with the mountains now and tell me what perhaps lies ahead in my own relationship with the mountains.
She was bold for her time and I respect that.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Roll the Dice & Wash by Shy FX
It all depends on the mood. I really do sweep the board in music taste. I can go from Ray Lamontage to Stormzy. From London Grammar to Shy FX. I like what I like, which is as it turns out a wide range of music from different genres.
So let’s have a Shy FX drum and bass track from a couple of years ago and a time when a night out in a sweaty nightclub was something we didn’t think twice about.
Shy FX – Roll the Dice