International Women's Day
Adventure Stories From Our Inspirational Women
There's a story behind every adventure. And this March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re shining a light on the brilliant women at Cotswold Outdoor. From in-store experts to our wider team across the UK, our passion for the outdoors runs deep. And, we’re sharing their incredible stories to inspire you to take that extra step towards your next dream adventure.
Lauren Ainsley - Email Marketing Manager
Lauren shares her inspirational journey of scaling peaks and meeting her fear of heights head-on.
''Back in 2019, I made an incredible 8-month solo trip to South and North America. Before this, I didn't have much hiking experience and started out with a moderate fear of heights. However, over time I pushed myself further towards precarious cliff edges whilst hiking trails such as Two Brothers Peak in Rio de Janeiro, Laguna de Los Tres in Patagonia, Inca trek to Machu Picchu and Emory Peak at Big Bend National Park.
The first time I didn't get vertigo was as I walked along the canyon ridge on the Grand View Point trail at Canyonlands National Park in Utah, and it was absolutely exhilarating. Eventually, I found myself dangling my legs over the Grand Canyon, and I finished up my trip by hiking the notorious Angels Landing in Utah, which was the dream.
Overcoming this is such a core memory for me, and now I have a bucket list filled with many adrenaline-fueled hiking trails where the fear can no longer hold me back. Overall these experiences helped me learn to push my boundaries in many other aspects of life because I know that if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything.''
Emma Wilcox - Partnerships Manager
Determined and always smiling, Emma tells us about her exhilarating bike challenge to raise money for people with disabilities.
''I took part in an incredible cycling challenge, cycling from North to South Wales. Initially, I was organising the fundraiser when one of my team got hurt, so we shared the journey. With no prep and no recent biking experience, I felt nervous but exhilarated! No phones, no interruptions – just me and inspiration from the glorious views of the Welsh landscapes.
Riding into Swansea and seeing my children is a moment I'll never forget! And completing the challenge and raising 30K to enable people with disabilities to access physical activities was a proud moment.
We have since bought bikes for the family and have had some of our happiest memories; driving through the thigh burn and braving downhills is something I'd highly recommend!''
Phoebe Hewitt - E-Commerce Senior Copywriter
A story about incredible willpower. Phoebe shares how her multi-day trekking experience in Nepal taught her to always give it a go.
''In 2018, I travelled to Nepal to hike the Langtang Trail, a 48-mile, multi-day trek that begins with monkeys and jungle and quickly ascends 3925m to the icy 4700m peak of Kyanjin Ri. Growing up, I suffered from chronic asthma. I relied heavily on inhalers, so the thought of the steep ascents, acclimatisation difficulties, and long days of constant walking wasn't something I was sure I'd be able to handle.
However, travelling has always been about seeing wildlife, and the possibility of seeing monkeys, yaks, and an elusive red panda was enough to push me to try. Altogether, the trek took us six days to ascend and descend, all while staying in local tea houses and eating copious amounts of Dal Bhat and Momo dumplings.
It took every bit of my willpower to put one foot in front of the other and keep going, but I still look back on it now as one of my greatest accomplishments. The only mistake you can make is to not give it a go - you can surprise even yourself.''
Nancy Bicknell - IT Analyst
Armed with a positive attitude, a brilliant sense of humour and a passion for discovering new places, Nancy shares snippets from her impressive solo bike adventures.
''In 2018, I completed my first solo bike adventure crossing the Pyrenees from coast to coast, 836km distance, 19,263m of climbing and 23 peaks.
This pushed my comfort zone both by cycling and travelling alone. I don't speak French (or any language other than English), I hadn't done much training. Plus, I had a goal to complete it in 2 weeks because I was due back at work. And there are few exit options in the middle of the route.
When I was building my bike at the start, a man asked me where I was going, and I showed him a picture of the route. He tried desperately to explain to me via the medium of mime (when he realised I had no French) that the Pyrenees were, in fact, mountains and I should turn back. His lack of faith gave me even more strength to continue my journey. A local women also came and spoke to me; she recommended places to eat. Meeting new people and discovering hidden gems is one of the best parts about travelling alone.
This adventure taught me to believe in myself and take advice with a pinch of salt. I often feel like an imposter in the cycling world. I don't travel light, have somewhat retro panniers rather than cool bike packing bags, eat too many chips, take terrible selfies, descend almost as slowly as I climb, and wear the wrong clothes: I am not a 'cool' cyclist. But when I descended from the Pyrenees and got my first view of the sparkling Mediterranean, I realised I might not be cool, but I am absolutely capable.''
Experiences like these inspire the confidence to continue getting out there - no matter the weather. So, if you're excited to start your new adventure, drop into a Cotswold Outdoor store and speak to one of our experts. They live and breathe the outdoors and want to help you find the right kit to make that next trip into the wild a memorable one.
As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, Lily knows how to kit up for even the wildest weather. We sat down with her to learn more about what goes into choosing the perfect footwear, her thoughts on how the outdoors can become more accessible, and the joy of wild camping.
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