This week as part of our Sunday Inspiration series we meet Friend of FINDRA Hollie Leonard who’s very much into all things outdoors.
Hi Hollie and can we start by asking you where you live and what you do?
Hi, my name is Hollie Leonard and I am based in the West End of Glasgow. I work for the NHS as a research physiotherapist in a 3D motion analysis lab which means I spend my days analysing how people move. When not in work I swim (preferably open water), ride one of my bikes (n+1 right?!), run (trail or mountains) and ski tour.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
I was lucky to grow up in the countryside in Ireland so when we weren’t in school we were outside building dens and forts in the fields. So while the outdoors has always been a playground to me, it was in my early twenties during my time at the University of Glasgow that I really started getting more adventurous and feeling the draw to lochs, mountains and wild places.
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
Well we are just back from a phenomenal two-week trip to the Outer Hebrides where we did 700km by fat bike and pack raft up the west coast of the islands and back down the eastern side. We lucked out massively with the weather. That being said, my favourite has to be a climbing trip I did in Alaska in 2015 where myself, Dave (my other half) and our two friends Ian and Peter climbed Denali. Dave and I had got married a few months before so couched this as our honeymoon and we had the best time.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
I am very fortunate that I am married to my top training and adventure partner so making time for long runs in the mountains at weekends is fairly straightforward as we do most of it together with our Siberian husky, Mutley. During the week juggling work, training and “adulting” is like playing a jigsaw puzzle – what snippets of time do we have to fit in a run or a turbo or head out for an open water swim.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
Yes – my husband Dave. We met at Uni and our first holiday away together was to Grindlewald in Switzerland on a hiking holiday. I was a bit anxious as I had never really done any hiking before but I came back hooked to the mountains, glacial rivers and craving the smell of the flowers in the Swiss pastures. It was idyllic and since then we have had some incredible times in the outdoors.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Absolutely, there is a quietness and stillness I get from being in nature that is hard to describe. Getting outside for a walk or run with our dog before work, and again in the evening clears the head – even if it is in the city – finding a quiet leafy lane or park where you can see some green and hear the birds singing just brings a lightness. Being in nature really is one life’s greatest pleasures but is often so overlooked.
When did you discover FINDRA?
We were introduced to Cat and Trev Worsey when we met friends for a Munro hike on a crisp snowy day a couple of years ago. I was admiring Cat’s merino headband – which was a FINDRA piece and she told me all about the company. Since then I usually have an extensive FINDRA wish list of base layers, hats etc that gets pulled out at birthdays and Christmas.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“The mountains will always be there”. It is important when out in the hills to constantly be assessing the conditions – weather and terrain and adjust the plan accordingly. Sometimes that means dialling back on the days objectives, and that is ok. Resist the temptation to plough on, make good decisions, make it home to tell the tale.
On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers?
The outdoors can be a giant playground, hills for running and skiing, lochs for swimming, trails for cycling. Here in Scotland we are lucky to have so much of this on our doorstep. Even if you live in a city, outdoor adventures are never far away so pull out a map and get outside!
Images by Hollie Leonard or David Leonard and more pics of Hollie on her adventures can can be found here: instagram.com/holliejleonard
Favourite film – Valhalla. It always brings stoke for ski touring!
A trailer for the film is shown below and more details about the film can be found on Sweetgrass Productions website.
Marrow chutney. My grandma always made this chutney which is amazing with a strong mature cheddar and a good chunk of bread – always brings happy memories of picnic lunches!
I now find that making this at the end of the summer when marrows are in season signals a move towards autumn which means winter adventures are not far away.
Favourite trail – the Sherburne Ski Trail (aka “The Sherbie”) on Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
This is a super mellow ski down from the Hermit Lake Shelter at the base of Tuckermans Ravine back down to Pinkham Notch.
Dave and I got married on this mountain in January on one of the coldest days that winter. A group of close family and friends hiked or skinned up for the ceremony and afterwards we skied back down the trail together – what a blast we had! And no – I wasn’t wearing a wedding dress. I got new touring boots instead of expensive wedding shoes!
FAVOURITE PIECE OF MUSIC
The song Mr Fantasy by the band Traffic. If you watch the movie Valhalla, you’ll see why! Makes me instantly want to be in remote mountains ski touring and brings back so many happy memories of ski tours with friends in New England, where we lived for a few years.
Traffic – Mr Fantasy