Get To Know Kerrie Gosling
Cotswold Outdoor expert Kerrie Gosling tells us what she loves about the outdoors.
What does the outdoors mean to you?
“Everything! If I come here on my own, I’ve got time to clear my mind and if I’ve got things that I’m working through it gives you a sense of clarity around certain things. You’ve got that space just to think. But if I bring my friends here, especially if they’ve never been here before, I can bring them to a place that I love and share my passion with them and hope that they understand why I love it so much.
I’ve always been reasonably outdoorsy. I was in Girlguides when I was younger – on my first ever camping trip, it rained constantly for the whole 48 hours! But in 2013, I kept hearing an advert on the radio for a 10-day charity trip to China with a company called Discover Adventure. I always went on adventures with the same group of friends, so I messaged them saying “are you guys up for this?”, but you had to raise £3,000 to be able to go and they didn’t think they’d be able to raise the money. I was really disappointed, which made me realise that I just had to go for it – so I signed up anyway and went alone. Well I wasn’t alone, there were 40 people in the group! I’m still friends with and meet up with people from that trip. It was such a pivotal trip and it opened my eyes up to a completely different life. So much has changed in such a small space of time. I was really career-driven, it was all about the job and earning money, and now none of that matters. It’s all about the lifestyle.”
How often do you get outdoors?
“I try to get out as often as I can. Obviously working full-time makes it tricky but my boss is really understanding of the work I’m doing towards my Mountain Leader qualification, so if I need my days off together or fewer hours one week he’ll give me that. I’m able to get away once a month or so to Snowdonia or the Lake District.”
What’s your favourite part about the outdoors?
"Just the scenery, really. It’s beautiful when you’ve got blue skies and sunshine, but it’s just as good when it’s foggy, windy and rainy, because you almost feel the true nature of the area and what it’s really like. It’s always different, you can come back here time and time again and no visit will be the same."
Why do you think it’s important for us to protect the outdoors and the environment?
"It means so many things to so many people. It needs to be protected and looked after because it’s a lifeline for some people, they need to get out and clear their mind and it’s a way to sort things out in their heads. I’ve never been a litter bug, but it does make you think more about what you do on a day to day basis. Even earlier when we were out and I saw someone had dropped a banana skin, it made me really angry because some people think “it’s a banana skin, it biodegrades” but it takes forever. And the amount of plastic water bottles you see, you just think “you’ve made the effort to carry it up the mountain when it’s full of water, now it’s empty and lighter, don't just throw it away, take it back down”!"
Why is having the right kit important, before heading out on an adventure?
"Something I said to a friend a while ago was that for me, having the right kit is important because ultimately, if something goes wrong, that stuff could save my life. And if I wasn’t carrying extra layers or wearing the right layers, then you could get into a lot of trouble and I just don’t want to be in that position or put my friends in that position.
I often pack for every eventuality in my kit bag, and then when I get to my accommodation I’ll check the forecast for the next day and pack my day bag with everything I need. Even if it doesn’t forecast rain, I’ll still take my waterproofs!
When I’d just started out, the kit I had was OK but I hadn’t had proper fitted boots, I didn’t have proper waterproofs or anything like that, and at the time you just took it as a given that if it rained, you got wet. And it’s only when I started going through the training and had my boots fitted for me, and it was a really pivotal moment, and it just makes everything so much easier."
What would you say your specific areas of expertise are?
"I’d probably say boot fitting is what I enjoy the most, because you get to chat to the customer about what they’re doing and where they’re going, and quite often they’re going somewhere I’ve been so I can strike up a conversation, so it’s really nice to be able to chat to people and then go through suitable options for them. I’ve been there, I’ve had poorly-fitting boots, I know what it feels like so to help someone have nice, comfy boots makes a big difference to them enjoying their trip."
What do you think are the health benefits of being outdoors?
"There are loads of health benefits. On the mental health side of things, it definitely helps put things in perspective, it allows you that space from the day-to-day stresses to think and be in the moment. From a physical health perspective, it makes you fitter and stronger. It doesn’t even have to be a big expedition or a big day out, even going out and walking around the local park is better than nothing, especially if it’s something you’ve not done before. You can do it with your friends, or there are groups you can join and meet people, it’s a really social hobby. I’ve made loads of friends just through going out walking in the hills and in the mountains."
What made you want to work for Cotswold Outdoor?
“I’d worked in the same company for 14 years, and had seen it change so much – not always for the better! And I was only staying because I was on reasonably good money, and I was worried that if I left I wouldn’t be able to afford my flat and things like that, but it was doing my head in. And then the two guides on the China trip were telling us that they were Mountain Leaders, and explaining what their job and I was like “hang on, you’re telling me you get paid to do this? I want some of that!”. And literally after that, I got home and I started to resent my current job more and more. Having my eyes opened to what’s out there both in terms of jobs and amazing things to do, made me leave without even having anything to go to. So I told a friend “there’s this cool shop I go into all the time, I’m going to apply there”, I dropped my CV in at Cotswold Outdoor and I got a call for an interview the next day. It all just made sense, it really tied in with what I wanted to do and the kind of people I wanted to hang around with.”
Can you tell us a bit more about Cotswold Outdoor Milton Keynes?
“The thing that I love the most about working at Milton Keynes is the team. The team that I work with are amazing, they’re the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with. Everyone’s got each other’s back, everyone’s likeminded, everyone’s got the same ethos in why we work there and why we do what we do. It’s just wicked. I’m a supervisor, so I do boot fitting, rucksack fitting, kit lists.”
What’s the best part of your job?
“The best bit about my job is helping the customers, and nerding out about kit because we really like talking about kit! It’s a way of life really because it’s my interest and my passion, and we’re learning all the time, whether that’s through using the kit or researching about it.
Being able to pass that knowledge on is one of the best things about my job. It’s a bit of a running joke now because nine times out of ten, when customers say “I’m going here”, I’ll go “I’ve been there!” I think that’s the most important part of our job. We’ve been to these places, we’ve used the kit, we know that it works and it’s instilling that confidence in the customer that it’s good and it works and it’s worth it.”
Why are places like Cotswold Outdoor so important?
“Don’t get me started about internet shopping! The difference is, coming into a shop and being able to talk to staff that have been there, used it and abused it, is you’re getting an honest answer about a product. Because we’ve been out there and we’ve used it, we know how it works and know how it performs and we can pass on that knowledge.”
What inspires you to get out there and take on new adventures?
“I think in some ways, social media keeps me inspired. Because there are so many outdoors-related groups on Facebook or Instagram now, that you can look at so many other people’s adventures ad pictures and make a mental ticklist, and then something else will pop up on Facebook and you’ll think “I want to go there”. The list of things that I want to do grows a lot quicker than I tick things off it! There’s so much to do in the UK, don’t get me wrong I like going abroad, but there’s so much on your doorstep.”
What would your advice be for someone planning their own adventure?
“Come to Cotswold Outdoor for the best advice! Seriously, my advice for someone planning their own adventure would be just to go and do it. Research, plan, and just do. I think it’s important to just get out and experience things because you learn along the way. My kit has changed so much over the years because you’ll try something, it doesn’t work, you’ll try something else until you find the right combination.”
What is the emotional impact of adventure for you?
“The worst possible thing for me would be if I couldn’t go outdoors, like if I broke my leg or something, I wouldn’t know what to do. There’s just so much to see and discover and for me it’s more a question of ‘why wouldn’t you?’. My friends think I’m mad but then as soon as I take them somewhere, they understand. This weekend I took a friend out and he’d never been to Wales before, let alone up a mountain, but once we got up there he said to me “mate, this is really cool. I get it now”. You cough and you pant to get up to somewhere but then you can just sit and take it all in, you’ve got no phone signal so you’re not hassled, you can just sit back. A lot of people go to the outdoors to escape work and city life, but I don’t see that I’m escaping. I’m not running away, I’m running to those places – I feel like it’s where I should be. I would say to anyone to just go out and do it – you don’t need to have the very best kit, you just need the right kit to go out and experience it for yourself.”
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