“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively, unless you can choose a challenge instead of a competence.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Today’s interview is with Sarah James whos positive mind set is infectious! Whether up a mountain or in the water Sarah is an outdoor woman through and through! You can find Sarah on Instagram @sarahj_outdoors
1. Can you tell me something about yourself?
I’m 37 (until October), live in North Manchester and I’m probably the slowest hillwalker ever but I’m working my way through the wainwrights and I love getting out and exploring the national parks near to me.
2. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?
My favourite childhood memories involve the coast. I grew up in Blackpool and I used to love being near the sea. My brothers and my dad and I used to cycle up the promenade from Cleveleys Beach to the Marine hall in Fleetwood. It was always an evening adventure and I remember bring fascinated that my shadow was so tall due to the setting sun. Perhaps not the most adventurous by some standards but that 3 mile ride felt such a long way as a kid.
3. What are three things on your bucket list?
Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Wainwrights C2C path
Sout West Coast Path
I’d love to do an overseas hike like Kilimanjaro or Inca Trail but if it doesn’t work out in life, then I’d be fine with that. I absolutely love exploring our green and pleasant land, here at home.
4. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration?
Instagram has been amazing for inspiration and far too many ladies to mention inspire me. You see someone’s photos and they can inspire you to want to visit certain places, or try certain things. There are tons of women out there who are doing awesome things and lots of women absolutely willing to give tips on routes, kit, or even how to number 2 outside. Without these people I’d probably still be walking round my local country park.
5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
It will work out in the end. I’d hate to go back and advise myself to change anything because I might not end up in the same place, a bit like “The Butterfly effect”. Though if you told 17 year old me I’d be skipping through Lake District bogs and giggling, or enjoying sleeping in a tent, she would have been mind blown.
6. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey?
Its not a competition. Don’t compare yourself to people who have been doing it for years. Do go out with those people as you can learn a great deal from them. Also don’t worry about having the snazziest, most expensive kit, get something that is comfy and safe. Last thing, map skills are essential. If you don’t know, take a course. I did one with NavTrek and i feel so much more confident getting out alone.
7. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?
Hadrians Wall. We were pretty ill prepared physically for this walk, had never walked carrying weight and wore inappropriate footwear. Did you know your feet can swell a full size walking? No, me neither, and the 13 blisters I had when I reached the end point were testament to this. I still enjoyed it (if you igmore the number of stiles) but a little preparation could have made it so much better. If you’re planning a long distance hike, train (including wearing your bag) and choose your shoes wisely. Learn from my mistakes and you’ll have an excellent time.
8. What is your favourite thing about the outdoor community?
The support, especially among the ladies. Everyone is always happy to meet up for walks and on hand for advice.
9. Is there anything you would change about the outdoor community?
Diversity. I’d love for the outdoors to be truly for all. I’m up for taking anyone out on an adventure, whatever their background or fitness level. But if the pictures we see online don’t reflect who we are, then it’s easy to think it’s not for us. I feel like an imposter sometimes as a larger lady, in a sea of size 8-10 women. Absolutely love the work Rhiane is doing with Black Girls Hike and mixed walks through Tales of a Hiker to diversify the outdoors.
10. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes what’s stopping you?
I’d love to get back into climbing, I used to climb quite regularly indoors but fell out of the habit when my last relationship ended. I don’t have anyone local to me to go with these days and although I could boulder inside alone I prefer going with someone.
11. Has the outdoors impacted your mental health?
Yes. I have been using hiking to balance my mental health for years. I told my manager at work that I took regular mental health days to head to the hills and she was amazed. I use most of my annual leave doing this, but I genuinely love using it this way. I’m definitely better having lots of small adventures than one big holiday each year.
12. What does a typical adventure day look like for you?
I’m mostly a day adventure person rather than multi-day but there isn’t a typical adventure. It will almost always be a walk of some kind, but what I do depends on whether I’m solo or with someone. My partner has limited mobility so if I’m out with her, planning is key, and I have to plan to her ability and also think about escape routes. She also loves history and wildlife so my walks with her will factor in that, and not just the tramping round as many wainwrights as possible that I do on my own.
13. What is the one song you would pick to sum up your time outdoors?
Gosh that is a really hard question as I don’t even have a favourite band *checks Spotify playlists*
Ok “God is a DJ by faithless because “This is my church, this is where I heal my hurts”
A day out in the hills makes me feel like a new woman and any stress just melts away.
14. What three things do you always carry on your adventures?
Map, phone (for pics) and a spare buff. I actually wear these to keep my flyaway hairs out of my face. I am perpetually envious of girls who can walk with their hair down as mine is just wild!
15. What is your favourite snack while on adventures.?
Haribo kid mix. I love those jelly babies – they got me round the Yorkshire 3 peaks so I’d say they’re a good walking snack.
16. What are your three favourite outdoor brands?
Im not massively into outdoor brands because not many run to my size, so I can usually be found roaming about in non-walking gear. Berghaus do my size, and my waterproofs are from them.
17. If you could only do one outdoor activity for the rest of your life which one would you pick and why?
Walking. I love that you don’t need much equipment and its amazing how far you can get on foot. I also love the slow pace of it, as it means you can take in your surroundings and the wildlife around you.