The Past Year in the Boots of Adventurous Ewe’s Leaders
It’s been over a year now since we were forced into hibernating Adventurous Ewe due to the ongoing global pandemic. A year which has really taught me a lot about running a business and reinforced just how important people from all walks of life really are. My levels of empathy, compassion and understanding have been amplified. From those whose dream adventures had to be put on hold, to the tourism community all over the world who’ve had to make immense sacrifices to adjust to life without the travel industry spinning. Leaders, crew, local accommodation hosts, drivers and all their respective families … people whose livelihoods depend on travel. Not overshadowing the devastating fact that people have lost loved ones (and not only to COVID-19) during such tough times and the personal impact that this has had.
However, before embarking on the next chapter which I welcome with much excitement and hope as the world starts to get underway with reopening, I just wanted to take the time to shine the spotlight on our dedicated, talented and resilient team of leaders & crew. I’m in endless awe of their professionalism and support, how hard they work and the standard they work to. As for so many people, it’s been a tough year for these guys & gals, whom some have been forced to seek work elsewhere whilst maintaining their respective skills, fitness levels and taking care of family.
So to start things off, below are some of our fab UK based Leaders, their stories and what they’ve been up to over the past year. Stories and updates from our equally fab overseas based Guides will be in our next edition of our blog.
UK Mountain & Climbing Leader
The past year has been a roller-coaster, with plenty of amazing highs. Cancellation of my summer work gave me a chance to focus on sport climbing and I discovered how much I love it! I also made an impromptu decision to complete my MCI assessment (Mountain & Climbing Instructor), which led to a wonderful summer of “preparation”, scrambling and climbing all over Scotland. After a short autumn season of guiding work, I’ve kept busy through the winter delivery driving, crocheting headbands, and teaching myself computer programming.
I’m looking forward to pretty much everything about getting back to work with Adventurous Ewe! I have missed spending lots of time in the mountains, and I’ve also missed meeting lots of new people – I’m really excited for the social aspect. It will be particularly special to help people achieve outdoor challenges this year, after we have all built up so much hunger for adventure!
Super Skillful Sam
UK Mountain & Bike Leader & Videographer
2020! What a whirlwind! For the past 12 months I have been busy saving the world delivering pizzas for Dominoes, one slice at a time!! I’ve also been busy working on my own little adventure videography company Wild Valley Productions, making plans, filming VLOGS and editing content for other businesses including some highlight videos for Adventurous Ewe. The silver lining has been spending way more time with family which has been awesome!
I’m super psyched to get back into the mountains, I’ve really missed long mountain days with great people. Most of all I have missed sharing stories, laughter and experiences all whilst being in the hills. Let’s do it!!!!
Incredibly Inspirational Ian
UK Mountain, Climbing & Bike Leader
As what I would term a functioning obsessive, the last year as been a great opportunity to let that flag fly. I have obsessively played online Monopoly while self-isolating, deep-dived into the world of Horology, obsessed over the Covid news, social injustices and bbq’ing in the garden through May and obsessed over wine tasting all throughout lockdown 1. That was completely useless with no smell or taste post-Covid but luckily, the effects of alcohol were unaffected.
When my taste came back I obsessed over Camembert while obsessively practiced for the UK’s top level Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor qualification through summer. I took countless people out on all sorts of incredible climbing and mountainy adventures teaching and learning every day. After 5 years of working toward it and 100+ days in the Snowdonia mountains and fantastic North Wales sea cliffs last summer alone, I passed in October. A life goal accomplished and the best part of it all? The Daily Camembert (I should launch a newspaper).
Noooooo – I jest. The best part was exploring these mountains with people from all over. A chat and laugh, discovering who outside our groove exists in the world, sharing moments, creating memories, and generally enjoying the magic of North Wales and each other. Since then, it’s been different lonesome obsessions – soloing rock climbs, scrambling, skiing when the snows were in and my latest – building a campervan.
Ah, but when I gaze off to those peaks and think about the future my obsessive nature subsides and I feel calm and happy that we’ll all be out there playing soon. And I am MASSIVELY looking forward to that. I can’t wait to work with my friends at Adventurous Ewe again, to welcome all you new psyched folk to the flock, and finally, I’m looking forward to sharing some rad times up there in the rains, shines and clouds.
Man-o-man, I love these mountains…
Jubilant & Jewel in the Crown Jo
UK & Overseas Expedition Leader
Knowing that all of my outdoor work would be cancelled I hotfooted it to the Tesco Careers website and applied for a job as a Delivery Driver which I started at the beginning of Lockdown 1 and have only just left. I had a blissful 2 months of DofE work in late summer but have spent the last 11 months delivering to mostly very grateful customers in and around Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset. I also turned 50 a week ago and completed a marathon challenge on my birthday of running 1.1 miles on the hour every hour for 24 hours and raised over £1600 for children’s mental health charity Place2Be. It’s certainly a birthday I won’t forget!
The mountains and the people! I’ve missed the motivational chats and helping people to achieve things they were worried they wouldn’t and being out and about in the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer. Bring it on!
Jo has already tackled the highest mountain on 6 of the 7 continents and now just has 1 to go. For more info or to throw a few pennies towards supporting this epic and hugely respectable feat for Place2Be, please visit here.
UK Mountain, Bike & Kayak Leader
My pandemic year has been a roller-coaster ride, starting with two of us (and a dog & cat) spending 3 months (it was supposed to be 2 weeks) in a caravan working from home, whilst waiting to move into our new house. But the weather was good, we live in a beautiful area, so we did loads of lockdown walks and I did many, many miles of running (something that has become a constant and is probably why I am still relatively sane, and married 😊). End of May we finally manged to move, but the furniture storage facility had furloughed all their staff, so we camped on the floor of our new house for a fortnight!
My proper job is Teaching Adventure Sports at an FE college – so from September business as usual, all be it with masks and social distancing. Then lockdown two started, lots more running, walks with the dog, and when rules allowed, with other members of the family, including my grandson (age 4) whom I am trying to mould in my own image (failed with my sons as ones an Accountant, the other a Joiner!!).
Looking forward, I can’t wait to be back in the mountains, running and with groups of adults who are up for the challenge.
UK Mountain & Bike Leader
I, like most, have been doing as much as I can to keep the ‘outdoorsy’ part of me alive over the past year. I have been focusing on trying to not get into the lockdown routine of Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat. I was guilty of this in the first lockdown and my fitness suffered massively! I kicked myself out of it with an “Everest on the Stairs” at home challenge and since then I’ve been throwing myself hard at fell & ultra running. Whilst we were allowed to travel briefly last summer, I managed to tick off something that has been on my wish list for a long time, completing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in under 5 hours with a 4 hour 47 mins finish.
Back into lockdown, rubbish home hair cuts, and this time I was determined to use it to my advantage…having thought about the Bob Graham every year since I was 15 and always thought “I’m not ready”, I’ve taken the opportunity to use this time to train as much as possible in the hills near home. (Luckily I live in the Peak District!). Since Christmas I’ve done a 50 mile ultra round home. With no checkpoints allowed due to Covid restrictions, getting some pasta and a change of socks half way on a friend’s doorstep was a highlight! I’ve recently done a double Edale Skyline and some mega 6000ft mornings of hill reps in Dovedale. Now I’m spending time in the evenings going over maps and doing as much prep as I can before being allowed to travel again.
As of last week I am now a Volunteer Vaccinator with St John’s Ambulance. Looking forward to being part of the solution to get us all back to what we love as soon as possible!
The past year has been frustrating for us all. Quite simply I can’t wait to get back out there enjoying the mountains and long multi-day cycling expeditions with great groups of like-minded people! The team camaraderie and sense of collective achievement is what I miss the most.
UK Mountain & Bike Leader
2020 was a different year. But for me it has been one of my most enjoyable (controversial I know). It has given me the time to pause and not worry about things that we do not know about or have control over in our lives and live in the present moment. I explored my home area so much more, enjoyed the peace and quite of the mountains and gave myself time reflect on what it was that was important to me.
Along with the whole of the UK I bought myself a mountain bike so was out in my local hills and with the weather being so great over spring and summer it was a blessing. Once we were able to travel, I treated myself to a trip to the Alps, something I would not usually do over summer with it being the main season for work. It was a fantastic trip and I went at a good time, when Snowdonia became the focal venue for UK tourists, so I managed escape the masses and find some very quiet mountains to climb on the Swiss Alps. Since Autumn has arrived, I have started a teaching degree in Primary education.
I am very much looking forward to getting out into the hills again with Adventurous Ewe, helping people push themselves physically and mentally and sharing this magnificent landscape with others who too appreciate the beautiful areas we have here in the UK.
Courageous & Cheerful Chris
UK Mountain, Bike & Kayak Leader
Since lock down I felt my fitness level was dropping because I had to take a job at Halfords fixing bikes instead of leading groups in the mountains, so I decided to take up running. On day 1, I started by running 5k, then by day 30 I had ran from Capel Curig to my house in Caernarfon, completing a marathon distance. I then listened to Born to Run as an audiobook and decided I could run an ultra marathon…well 50K at least!! It was absolute hell, I ran through all weather conditions, ran out of water and got a lot of strange looks as I finished the run in Bangor city center, covered in mud, snot and walking like John Wayne.
Over lockdown, between working at Halfords and running, I’ve also been building a veg patch and wildlife area in my garden….oh and am imminently about to become a dad!!
I am looking forward to returning to work in the mountains especially with Adventurous Ewe, as its always great work with fantastic crew and groups.
Keen & Kind-hearted Kat
UK Trainee Mountain Leader
This last year has been a crazy roller coaster for us all to say the least and with this free time I have taken full advantage of it and made the most of what I possibly can and have made some unforgettable memories. April 2020 at the beginning of all of this myself and my partner ran a 24 hour ultra in our cosy welsh terrace cottage, raising awareness and money for Rethink Mental Illness a charity and cause close to my heart. We raised over £1,700 which was more than I could have ever imagined!
I was super lucky to be asked to become a Montane Ambassador which again I still pinch myself about to this day. This has enabled me to strengthen my writing skills and has gave me some incredible work opportunities. I have taken full advantage of local trail runs/ climbing routes and have been up our local hill Tal Y Fan numerous times keeping up the preparation for my Mountain Leader assessment as well as maintaining fitness for when we can go into the hills. One of the best lockdown highlights was becoming a dog mum! We are the proud owners of a Welsh Sheepdog Puppy named Thor (who lives up to his name with noise).
Going forward I am super psyched to get back into the hills with some ace leaders for Adventurous Ewe, I can’t wait to share my passion for the outdoors with others who are equally passionate! This year more than ever adventure is needed!!
Sea Loving Sue
Deputy Ewe, Assistant Leader & Support
The past year as thrown many a curve ball of which we’ve all had to adapt to new ways of working and living. Thankfully technology was there to step up to the plate and allow communications to still take place, especially with all my family living back home in Oz. Impressive times when my 4-year old nephew is a whizz at FaceTime!
Inbetween lockdowns there was the chance to get back to the water and teach the beloved Moshi-dog how to swim, continue with my RNLI crew training (only 35 assessments to complete before becoming fully fledged crew member), jump aboard for a few of rescues, complete my RYA Competent Crew Sailing Certificate whilst keep chipping away at the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course. So it’s been all things to do with the sea plus stepping up the training in prep for the next big adventure in 2022/23. Guess what the theme is 😉
Personally, I’m so looking forward to the world of travel opening up again in order to meet people from all walks of life to support and share some incredible experiences. Nothing beats giving someone a helping hand to see the happiness generated from achieving their own milestones, witnessing Mother Nature weave her magic or being amidst local people & cultures. Plus I love working with our remarkable leaders & crew that we’re so fortunate to have worldwide. They’re all such a great bunch and I’ve definitely missed the banter and camaraderie as Moshi-dog has missed her stick-throwing pals.
As for me, Jim, well as many of our team have mentioned, it’s been a roller-coaster of a year however, I’ve tried to keep active and use the time to learn new things. Inbetween lockdowns here in Wales, I tried my luck at paragliding, ski touring and whenever Mother Nature graced our local beach with wind, I was out on the water kite surfing.
And now I’m feeling positive with the roadmap ahead to navigate our way back to some exciting adventures. I’ve finally ticked off a few niggling to-do list items like refreshing our website, creating some new and unique adventures and started work on our Climate Emergency Plan to measure every gram of CO2 emitted for each trip and work on reducing our carbon footprint through a specialist consultancy, ecollective.
However, this is all about our tremendous team, and again I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our entire crew and to all our partners & suppliers who have helped us get to this point. I’m so looking forward to when we can reunite again and together share more incredible adventures across this remarkable planet. And remember to keep a look out for our next blog installment from our overseas Guides, they’re a remarkable bunch too.
Diolch yn fawr iwan,
Thank you very much