This week we meet with Kate O’Callaghan, ambassador of Wonderful Wild Women, a collective of everyday people making decisions to live more adventurously, actively and mindfully in all areas of daily life.
Hi Kate, we’ve met your husband before (FINDRA Ambassador Danny O’Callaghan), but can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live 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. Other than mountain biking, my main hobbies are surfing and hiking and day-to-day I’m involved with the development of young people in the outdoors – and also ambassador to Wonderful Wild Women (more of which later).
How long has the great outdoors been a 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 8 years ago when I met Danny I really found my passion.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
I struggle to pick a favourite adventure as we’ve travelled throughout Europe, Asia and New Zealand – and also briefly to America – but our recent trip to Scotland for the NC500 is up there with the best of them.
Sri Lanka was a huge milestone adventure because it was our first after my surviving cancer and it holds so many heart warming memories but New Zealand takes the win on my favourite. 5 weeks of exploration on bikes, kayaks and by foot. Taking in as much of the country as possible and enjoying every moment of overwhelming scale in the mountains and lakes compared to the UK.
We spent Christmas Day with some of Danny’s old family friends and they took us to a community Jacobs Join type Christmas and it was such an honour to be a part of it. It was also in New Zealand that we did our first proper bike packing trip, 4 days on the Old Ghost Road which was an awesome experience. Honestly, the entire holiday was just incredible.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
I am lucky enough to have a flexible working life, I work in an industry that develops our young people by using the power of the outdoors as a catalyst for behavioural change so they understand that need in our own daily lives too.
Being outdoors and active is hugely important to me so I make sure it’s always a priority in my day to day life. Mini daily adventures through the working week and more epic of a weekend, pushing it further on 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 and that community inspires me constantly from a persons first experience in the outdoors to some of the epic challenges that are shared with us.
The other ambassadors are a force and I admire each of them individually. Sarah and Lauren inspire me to want to complete epic adventures as they go about smashing records and pushing themselves further and further with each challenge, ever humble in their achievements.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing 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 going out on my bike will make everything seem so much lighter.
What is it about mountain biking specifically that you love?
I love the freedom of mountain biking, being able to explore further and push myself harder to achieve the summit. The adrenalin and challenge of the descent. Being in the hills with our friends and having an amazing adventure, making memories together.
As cheesy as this sounds – my most favourite thing is to ride at sunrise, there is something so magical about sitting at the summit, having climbed through the dark to watch the sunrise whilst most of the world below are still sleeping and then feeling the sun warm you as you descend. It’s in those moments that I feel most alive.
When did you discover FINDRA?
A few years ago on one of our visits to Innerleithen but even more so since Danny became 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.”
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?
Being outdoors and in nature is healing, joy giving and inspiring, there is no judgement out there, only peacefulness and a feeling of awe as you witness how huge and wonderful your surroundings are. There is something incredibly satisfying about sitting with yourself on a mountain side and taking in everything it has to offer, the peacefulness of the open spaces and views.
If people are nervous about getting outdoors start small, a local walk exploring your surroundings and noticing the beauty is enough. If people are nervous about venturing further join one of our Wonderful Wild Women events (or something similar more locally) or use a guide, both offer a safe and supportive environment for you to try it out (WWW also have demo kit available for anyone who doesn’t have the gear). Take a small step and reap the rewards – I promise you won’t regret it.
Thanks Kate, much appreciated!
For more inspiration from Kate and Wonderful Wild Women you can follow the social links below:
TRAIL OF THE WEEK
Heartbreak Ridge, Ballater
My favourite ever trail is Heartbreak Ridge at Ballater. It’s long, flowy but technically challenging from start to finish, single track and rock rolls, finishing in the forest, a little bit of everything! The trail that just keeps on giving.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger
Last week Penny mentioned a book by her neighbour Bruce Wannell who passed away recently and it reminded me of Willfred Thesiger’s The Marsh Arabs, a classic of travel literature.
The book details his experiences with the Madan people of what is now southern Iraq in the late 1940’s and a world now largely destroyed under the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Thesiger travelled from village to village by canoe and he pays tribute to the hospitality, loyalty, courage and endurance of the Madan describing their impressive reed houses, the waterways and lakes teeming with wildlife.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Girls Just Wanna have Fun by Cyndy Lauper
With no music selection from Kate this week, Alex picked this classic by Cyndi Lauper from 1983 – a track that also makes an appearance in the classic 80’s kids film, The Goonies.
Do the truffle shuffle!!!
Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna have Fun