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Five Adventurers We Admire

On Tuesday 8th March 2022, Go Ape will donate £3 for every booking made to support our national charity, The Prince’s Trust, through their #ChangeAGirlsLifeCampaign.

Go Ape has three core values, “Keeping ‘the Adventure’ in Adventure”, “Being Socially and Environmentally Responsible” and “Doing the Right Things”.

We care about our planet and encouraging people to experience the incredible adventures in our world. That’s why, this International Women’s Day, we want to spotlight five amazing women who are smashing through physical and societal barriers to live their lives more adventurously.

Phoebe Smith

Phoebe Smith inside a tree
Credit: Phoebe Smith

Phoebe Smith is an award-winning adventurer, presenter, broadcaster, author, photographer, speaker and podcast host. She is a woman who is not only encouraging everyone to get active and outside but is setting an example on how to do so in an ethical and sustainable way.

Phoebe’s recent article, Future proofed piste – sustainable skiing in the French Alps was featured in The Guardian and proves that it is possible to set off on a more sustainable ski trip. Along with her family, Phoebe travelled to Serre Chevalier in the French Alps by Eurostar (rather than by a plane) and stayed at wind, solar and hydro powered ski resort.

During their trip, they took part in other environmentally conscious activities like Ski joëring (harnessing yourself to a horse and being pulled along at speed) and snowshoeing and ate at “Ecotable-certified restaurants” like Trinquet des Boussardes.

phoebe smith in blue rock climbing mountain
Image credits: @phoebersmith
phoebe suspended camping inside a cave
Image credits: @phoebersmith

Other adventures she's undertaken include sleeping on top of the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland; being suspended off 10 UK landmarks for an Extreme SleepOut Challenge and walking Hadrian's Wall over Christmas dressed as Wonder Woman - and raising over £42,000 for the young people's homeless charity Centrepoint. In February 2022 she will lead a group of underprivileged young people to Antarctica by hybrid expedition ship through the #WeTwo Foundation, a charity she formed with teammate Dwayne Fields - whom she also walked the length of Britain with over 40 days pulling wheeled sleds..

Find out more about Phoebe on her website, read one of her 10 books about adventuring or listen to her podcast, Wander Woman.

Bex Band

Bex Band on beach in pink love her wild t-shirt
Image Credit: @bex-band

Bex Band is the most well known as the founder of the award-winning social enterprise Love Her Wild - the UK’s largest women’s adventure community.

Some of Bex’s incredible adventures include: kayaking the width of the UK against plastic-pollution; hiking 1000km along the length of Israel; cross-country skiing the length of the Finnmark Plateau; and kick-scooting the length of the the USA.

Back in 2017, she launched Love Her Wild to provide support and opportunities for women in adventure. Now an award-winning community with over 30,000 members, Love Her Wild has taken thousands of women on life-changing adventures around the world - as well as providing mentoring and funding schemes to break down financial and social barriers preventing women from getting outdoors.

From 19th June August 2022 Love her Wild will set off on their most ambitious team adventure yet, the “Women’s End2End”! Hundreds of women will help carry the baton on a hiking relay that will stretch the full length of the UK - taking 74 days and covering over 2,000km!

Bex has been named as one the UK’s most Inspirational Entrepreneurs and is a bestselling author of the book, Three Stripes South about her 1000km trek through the vast Negev desert with her husband in 2016.

bex band and team in welsh lake
Image Credit: @bex-band
Bex band and love her wild team hiking
Image Credit: @bex-band

“One of the things I really love about adventure is that it's so subjective. For me personally, an adventure needs to tick 3 boxes. Firstly it needs to be outdoors and getting me into natural spaces. It also needs to have an element of uncertainty or exploration of a place I’ve not been before. Finally, it needs to be challenging. This could be something physically demanding, like doing a multi-day a hike, or mentally challenging, like not knowing where you are going to sleep each night

This is the winning combination that brings me both excitement and nerves before an adventure and guarantees I leave the experience stronger than I went into it.”

International Women’s Day is always a really special day. Running an adventure community with over 30,000 female members, I’m never in short supply of women to celebrate and be grateful for. This year, volunteers in the Love Her Wild community are organising an exciting multi-activity day in Gloucester so I will be closely following that. I’ll also be taking time to spending some quality time with my daughter who is always inspiring me to do more to change the landscape for women for the better.

Belinda Kirk

Belinda Kirk at book signing

Image Credit: Belinda Kirk

This International Women's Day Belinda Kirk will truly be living life adventurously as she hikes and camps her way across the Canary Islands along with her 4-year-old.

At the age of 18, Belinda set off on one her first big adventures to study Monkeys in Tanzania and followed this up by travelling across Africa alone. She has said that these experiences altered her outlook on life and her self-confidence.

In 2009, Belinda left a career as a TV producer & director to set up Explorers Connect, a non-profit organisation connecting people to adventures. Deciding to focus on helping people set up their own trips and adventures, she has spent the last 13 years encouraging over 30,000 ordinary people to engage in outdoor challenges. Each year she hosts Adventure Mind, a conference series that explores the link between adventure and wellbeing.

Some of Belinda’s coolest adventures include: walking across Nicaragua, searching for camels in China's Desert of Death, pioneering inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities and gaining a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain.  

belinda and explorers connect
Image Credit: explorerbelinda
Belinda leading youth expedition
Image Credit: explorerbelinda

Belinda is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the British Exploring Society. An Ambassador for the Youth Adventure Trust, Veterans in Action and Ordnance Survey. She has also raised nearly £100,000 for environmental, childrens and ex-Services charities.

Find out more about Belinda and check out her award-nominated book, Adventure Revolution: The life-changing power of choosing challenge.

Kwesia AKA City Girl in Nature

kwesia in field

Credit: @Mysterex 

Kwesia grew up in Deptford in inner-city South-East London. Like many of friends, neighbours and peers, she experienced a great deal of the challenges that come with living in an area, and with people, who have often been neglected, excluded and marginalized.

She struggled as she tried to make sense of violence and trauma going on around her found herself homeless and struggling with her mental health and well-being.

At her lowest, she received what she regarded as a gift and a blessing. An opportunity to be part of a British Exploring Society’s expedition to the Peruvian Amazon Rain-forest. She spent 3 weeks in a remote part of the jungle, with no phone or contact with the outside world, with a group of people that she barely knew.

This, in many ways, was a life-changing experience for her. She experienced the beauty of nature, where there was no judgement, just life teaming with energy and opportunity. And bonds of friendship and loyalty with strangers who had to discover ways to live and work together in order to be successful.

When she returned, she started to think about connecting with other people, particularly young people like herself, some of whom have never had the opportunity to experience anything other than poverty and hardship. She wanted to explore if a connection with nature, could touch them in a similar way that it had with herself.

This led to the start of City Girl in Nature, as a way to give back to her community. To share her love and passion for the outdoors, and belief that everybody should have the chance to be healed, to be nourished, and to life with abundance. 

Find out more about Kwesia or check out her Youtube Channel.

kwesia with friends on jetty
kwesia and friend representing british exploration society

Gail Muller

Gail Muller on mountain
Image Credit: @thegailmuller

Doctors told Gail Muller that she’d likely be in a wheelchair by the age of 40. This was due to muscular-skeletal issues and the chronic pain that would arise from them. Despite a determination to dodge the issue, Gail began to feel the pain in her early 20’s and chronic illness impacted her life for 15 years.

Gail never gave up hope though. She searched the world for different diagnoses and cures and eventually found a solution for herself in the mountains and lakes of Italy. After working with specialists and rehabilitating her body, she was able to take the reins in her life again.

Now Gail balances her life between education, adventure and shares her skills with others so that they can move with hope and confidence through their adversities too.

Some of Gail’s most incredible adventures include: a 2,200 mile hike along the famed Appalachian trail (which crosses 14 states, 6 national parks and 8 national forests!); a trek a section of the Continntal Divide from the Canadian border down in 2021; and she completed a a 630 mile hike around England’s South West.

Gail Muller and friend by river
Image Credit: @thegailmuller
gail muller on West Highland Way
Image Credit: @thegailmuller

“For me, an adventure is something that makes you feel alive and takes you even just a few inches outside of your comfort zone. You don't have to go physically far! When I was chronically unwell for a long period of time the adventures I had were mostly in my head; dreams of movement and goals to achieve down the line, or exploring the world through the written word of others. I was lucky enough to recover to take these into the real world, but even living vicariously had its benefits.

Adventure has potentially been folded in with ‘conquering’ and masculinity in the past, but I think society is doing a good job of making the idea of an Adventure a much more accessible, inclusive and subjective experience. It needs to be exactly that, because we’re fast running out of mountains to stick flags in and jungle to ‘be the first in’ and these are archaic ideas of seeing our world as something to be owned and tamed rather than to be understood and respected in myriad different ways. It’s when adventuring seeks to understand and give more than it takes (whether understanding ourselves or the world at large) that it will sustain itself. I’d love the idea of adventure to include rather than exclude the majority of us.

This year Gail will be celebrating International Women’s Day by…

Hiking the beautiful Cornish coast paths in preparation for her first women’s retreat which will take place later in March where we’ll be celebrating the strength and resilience of women and claiming our place in the great outdoors.

She’ll also be dipping in the Cornish sea with her brilliant female friends, and continuing to speak loudly and proudly about being a strong and vibrant woman in her 40’s, recently diagnosed neurodiverse and having recovered from years of chronic pain, who is striding out forwards into all that is possible for us women, no matter age or obstacles! I hope to inspire others to do and feel the same.

Find out more about Gail and read her book,"Unlost, a love letter to the healing power of the wild outdoors and a testament to the strength of the human spirit

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