Spending time outside has not been too arduous this summer thanks to the amazing weather we’ve been having. Lunchtime and after-dinner walks in amongst the trees or by the water are sought after respite from being “stuck” inside, and I hope you’ve been making the most of the weather while it lasts.
Were you one of the 700,000 people who watched BBC Scotland’s “Beginner’s Guide to Bagging a Munro” film? Then you’ve already met this week’s GetOutside Interviews subject. Kate Hopper, otherwise known as Smidge, likes to climb big hills at every given opportunity – that is when she’s not working the 9-5 in a very serious day job…
The GetOutside Interviews | Kate Hopper (Smidge)
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? What do you do (the day job)?
I’m Kate, otherwise known as Smidge (I never reached 5 foot tall) and I live in Edinburgh. I grew up on the edge of the Peak District, but moved to Scotland 22 years ago and made it my home. By day I am a Town Planner – I help to plan (and get budget for!) new infrastructure such as cycle paths, schools and new parks for Edinburgh. I’ve always loved OS Maps so it’s no wonder that I work in a job where I use them everyday. By night (and the rest of my free time) I am a Munro-bagging, long distance walking, road tripping travel and outdoor blogger at Love, from Scotland showing people just how easy it is to get outside in Scotland.
Where and how did you spend time outdoors today?
Like most people who work Monday to Friday I find it easy to make excuses not to get outside during the week, focusing so much on how far I am going to walk on the weekend, or which hill I am going to climb – which is why the One Hour Outside campaign is so important. I’m lucky to live only three miles from my office, so I walk home from work as as much as possible. However, this year I also want to start walking to work as well – but it is so tempting to have that extra half hour in bed and just jump on the bus…
Tell us about your favourite outdoor activities.
My first love is climbing hills – last year I climbed 18,000 metres – way beyond my personal Everest! However, I’m not just a tick boxing Munro-bagger as I love climbing every hill – some of our smaller hills such as Suilven in the far north west of Scotland are far more challenging than those twice their height. This year it has also been about long distance walking too. It’s a big birthday year for me so as a challenge I decided to walk a marathon. Of course I went for Scotland’s toughest – I’ve just completing the 26.2 mile Great Glencoe Challenge which also included climbing 5000ft!
I’ve also spent this year pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Despite being an outdoor blogger, apart from a bit of fun hairy scrambling on the hills I am a total wuss when it comes to doing adventure activities – so this year I’ve thrown myself off cliffs into the sea, been on a bike for the first time in 30 years (and rode it down a mountain), been wild swimming and snorkelling – and been thrown off a horse on a beach. It’s all been filmed – and will be out in September – I am excited to show people just how much you really can do outside if you are a scaredy cat like me!
With all the pressures of normal life, how do you make sure you find the time for outdoors adventure?
Being a Scotland blogger means I spend every moment of my spare time out and about in Scotland. I’ve my weekends planned until 2019 with adventures! However, whilst it is tempting to always head to the remote corners far away from modern life (and normally a phone signal) Edinburgh is right on my doorstep. I spend a lot of time in the beautiful Pentland Hills, walking the 13 mile Water of Leith Walkway – and my favourite coastal walk to South Queensferry to see Edinburgh’s famous three bridges.
As you are a GetOutside Champion it goes without saying that you want to encourage others to spend time in the great outdoors. Why do you feel this is important?
I often worry that i’m actually fake news as I haven’t always been a get outside type. In fact after leaving university I spent 15 years sitting behind a desk not doing very much at all. However, it all changed a couple of years ago when I went through a really traumatic period of my life and I had to totally reconsider what my future was going to look like. Around the same time I was challenged to climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft) and I discovered that I loved it. It turned out that getting outside gave me both a new outlook on what my life could be like – and the mental strength to start living it.
I think we have all read the statistics of just how important getting outside is, but you don’t know just how good it is for you until you actually experience it for yourself. Since I started getting outside, my lifestyle, my health (I’ve even managed to stop smoking) my attitude and my mental health have all changed. I’m not a different person, just a far better version of myself, and it’s the outdoors that have done that. As I am still a beginner at this myself I am always encouraging people to just try. I love making mini films showing people how to get outside – my Beginners Guide to Bagging a Munro for BBC Scotland has now been watched by over 700,000 people. It would be amazing if even just 10 of them decide to get outside.
Thank you to Kate for taking the time to answer my questions. You’re totally right; spending more time outside doesn’t make us different people, but it certainly helps turn us into amazing versions of ourselves. I’m looking forward to your video later this year!
And for more information about the Ordnance Survey GetOutside campaign, you need to be here.
If you are feeling inspired by my friends, please drop us a line to let us know – sharing the love is always good.