Q&A | Wild Swimming and all things<br>outdoors with Vicki and Louie

Q&AWild Swimming and all things
outdoors with Vicki and Louie

On our photoshoots we always rely on people in our network to spend the day with us; bag on their back and story to share. Vicki and her dog Louie (@vickiandlouieguidedwalks), ambassador for Wonderful Wild Women, spent the day with us at Black Moss Pot. Her story is one we recognise ourselves.

A love of the outdoors drew Vicki northwards to the Lake District from a life on the south coast. Valuing the experiences she has through many of the outdoor pursuits, she stepped out onto her own path becoming a local guide and outdoor educator. Here’s her story.

On the day Vicki had Smith The Roll Pack 15L with pockets, as her additional companion.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I love to be outside with whoever I can drag out or whoever has dragged me out! And believe me, sometimes I do have to drag myself out, but I always end up reaping the benefits. No matter the hesitations/excuses or responsibilities, it is always better once you have got up and gone out. My own little mantra…”get outside it helps!”

I‘ve always been extremely passionate about sharing outdoor activities with others and made it my career to do so. There is nothing better than supporting someone to achieve what they thought they couldn’t.

Outside of work I love to walk, bike, ski, climb and swim. I have always loved being in or near water, so anything involving that is also where you will find me, shortly followed by Louie my dog.

What does adventure and the outdoors mean to you?

I love the freedom that the outdoors gives me, it’s a step away from everyday hustle and bustle and general niggles of life. Just stepping out the door to walk my four-legged shadow Louie, can wash away any strain that I am feeling.

Time moves differently when you are outside. We spend our days rushing around, squeezing in the “to do list”. Even when teaching outdoor education I find my days rushed, achievement focused, and the inner Vicki “everyone must have a good time” is always present, working away at making sure everyone I am with, gets something positive from their day.

Then when you go home and have your own adventure, time slows down. I end up feeling like I’ve had two days in one. Two totally different experiences. Two totally different achievements. Two totally epic ways to enjoy the rewards, that being outside can offer. When all you need to do is focus on being outside and doing the activity of choice. Nothing else mattering, as in that moment, one foot in front of the other is all you need to do or not do, depending on how you enjoy being outside.

My passion and my drive to share this with others has been the forefront of my days, ever since I realised that the outdoors was where I thrived the most. I spend most of my childhood not being accepted, then I found the outdoors and then the people. I am lucky to have found my like minded people. Surrounded by literally hundreds of incredible humans!

You recently started your guiding business in the Lake District, do you have any advice for others who feel they want to start their own small business?

Take the plunge!

I have worked in the outdoors for over 12 years, have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but you would not believe how hard I found figuring this part of my career out.

Take those first steps

Just like any part of starting out in the great outdoors, you must take those first steps. Those will be the ones that mould you, the ones that make you humble. I spend a lot of time telling people that everyone had to start somewhere. I was once a complete novice at map reading too. So be brave.

Don’t let the fear stop you

I nearly did. With so much uncertainty at the moment, it’s really hard to have faith in your decisions. You will never know, until you try.

Walk tall

My nana always said “walk tall”. If you do that, you will see above the setbacks and keep striving for the forward boosts.

Talk to those that believe in you.

If I hadn’t have reached out for advice, I don’t think I would have taken the first steps.

You’re part of the Wonderful Wild Women crew, what does it mean to be able to be part of a community of awesome outdoor females?

When Sarah asked me to be part of the team, I was over the moon. I am so passionate about sharing the outdoors. To be able to diversify even more and become part of such a great local community, felt absolutely amazing. To stand along side authentic, passionate and incredibly kind women helping to create opportunities for others to feel supported and inspired, really is something special. We are starting to come back to life now after covid, so watch this space as we are working on getting days and events up a running again! Please feel free to get in touch about opportunities and tag us on all of your adventures!

How would you encourage others to enjoy the outdoors who are not as confident to explore further away from home?

I think words similar to above, taking those first steps. Research what you have close to you, green spaces, open parks, local hills or woodlands. A lot of places are managed and have great websites with information on where to park or what routes to follow.

Take time to sit in your own garden, or a space close to home and just watch and observe nature or look for someone to guide you in those places first, then quiz them as much as you can. Ask all the questions that concern you and see if they have any advice on what you could do locally on your own.

Wild swimming has really allowed people to connect over a shared activity throughout the country, what are the benefits of taking a dip for you?

Wild swimming, specifically in cold water, has had a huge impact on me. I find that cold water swimming has a direct influence on my resilience and my ability to cope with extremely hard situations. I love a good summer dip as well though and the benefits of all wild swimming are endless. For me personally, I have benefited by meeting new people I wouldn’t have necessarily met in other circumstances which are now close friends. I benefit with my physical health too, as some days I can cover long distances and on others use my tow float to help me bob around like an otter. I feel the water and swimming is one of those places where we are all equal, it doesn’t matter the person, the enjoyment and benefits are immediate.

Millican is all about treading lightly as we go, causing no unnecessary harm to the planet, is there any advice you’d give for those exploring the outdoors?

Look for the information! There are so many resources and wise words of advice out there, even reading one piece can be insightful. The most important thing to do is to look after our spaces, all of them. Leave no trace but bask in the beauty.