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How did I end up here…..

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

I’m often asked how did I get into all this, did I know I wanted to work in the outdoors and so on, the honest answer was I didn’t even know this industry existed!

Over a nice glass of wine, I’m sure we’ve all waxed lyrical about our past life and all the twist and turns (and mistakes) we’ve taken to end up here. There does always seem to be pivotal moments in everyone’s life where a simple decision generated a new pathway for the future - after that 2nd glass of wine the conversation surely leads onto ‘I wonder where I would be if I’d made a different decision on that day’! 3rd glass surely leads on to the Matrix - red pill or blue pill!

Dog walking was probably where it all started….

Even my earliest memories have Boxer dogs in them, they needed long walks several times a day, rain or shine we went out down to the fields & woods and mooched around for hours. I hated the rain, welly boots, being cold….nothing has really changed!

I loved when we explored new paths in the woods, I always wanted to know where it went, what other path linked to it and then with mates we’d forage through all the stuff in between, generally getting caked in mud, falling out of trees and seeing if we could ride our bikes through it all.

I left school with some good results, a tough old fashioned Headteacher ‘ruled’ us, but sometimes a bit of ‘black & white’ was healthy I guess and then I rolled into college which went south pretty quick. We realised early on that apart from 2 registrations each day no one was that bothered if you appeared anywhere else, but the pub and pool table loved us! By the 2nd year the clubs had lured us in, it started on a Wed and we finished Sun morning and I loved it!

I also loved sitting in the back of an old college transit on Fri nights and zipping up the mountains or down to Dartmoor & Exmoor where we roamed the hills all weekend. Big rucksacks, clothed in Army surplus and trying to figure out how to use that piece of plastic and keeping our maps and feet dry! I just loved the whole travelling up somewhere, being with some good friends, physically being challenged, getting soaked & then warming up, the amazement of what you could do, seeing new places…

winter walking in the Brecon Beacons

2 years at college was a bit of blur and funnily enough I didn’t do too well and had to to go work. After a short while, I booked a one way ticket to Australia. I wasn’t hugely confident and where this decision to leave the UK came from I’m not really sure, guess the wanting to always explore, see round the next corner, what’s over there type spirit helped. Never having been out of Europe, Australia seems a bit nuts looking back, but it changed me forever….

Arriving in Sydney airport, this was light years ahead of the internet and with no guidebook - I hadn’t heard of Lonely Planet and with no accommodation booked, I did wonder ‘what the f&*k have I done?’ A long time later I was still alive, still travelling and loving every moment of exploring. I walked everywhere, in cities, in jungles, on mountains, along the coast - generally in a pair of blood red Dr Martens. I once went up a 3000m mountain in wintry conditions in them….amazing boots! I would walk 20-30kms a day, just wandering, no plan, often finding myself in some random places, sometimes fab, sometimes not so fab, but I saw a lot! I travelled alone mostly, but I soon realised I was never alone, you’d always slide across to other travellers where ever you were and just chatted. There were times when you’d be getting excited about the next place you intended to visit and then suddenly this person you just met, went with you. It was an incredibly trusting, refreshing approach to people and one that I miss.

I have been lucky, where I’ve seen a lot, visited some incredible places around the World, met heaps of just fantastic folk and amazing memories so deep, the passion to keep travelling could have kept me on the road all my life. It was definitely possible back in the early nineties…

I came back to the UK eventually and became a little bored quite quickly, I either left these shores again or I found something to do. At a loose end I popped over to my old 6th Form and asked the teacher who dedicated her time to driving us to the mountains to explore if I could come along and help. I could drive mini buses so I was dead useful, I’d like to think there were other attributes I had to offer, but I think this was the main one.

I kept hearing about this ML thing at this stage. I remember filling out a form to register for the Award, you had to tick boxes what you wanted, pop a cheque and SAE in the post and a few weeks later my A5 logbook and Eric Langmuir’s book turned up. My days started to get exciting….

I started to realise that there was this whole world of cool things that you could become qualified in and actually get paid to do…this was becoming very exciting….

Paddling, climbing, orienteering, mountain biking all suddenly became new sports.

Nearly 30 years later, I can see how certain decisions got me here….

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