If you follow adventure and adventurers then you will have already heard of this week’s GetOutside Interviews subject. Belinda Kirk is well known as a go-to person when it comes to making expeditions happen – she’s managed trips for some of the biggest names in adventure, and is a Fellow of the Geographical Society.
But Belinda is keen that we all have opportunities for adventure, and wants to encourage us to make the most of the places around us. She founded Wild Night Out – now GetOutside Day – and has very strong feelings about how adventure can help us all live better. Read on to find out more…
The GetOutside Interviews | Belinda Kirk
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? What do you do (the day job)?
I’ve been helping others to get outside for the last 20 years, it’s my passion. I believe adventure is a necessity of the human spirit. The modern world has become too easy, too averse to challenge, too divorced from nature. This is having a negative effect on our physical and mental health. We need an #AdventureRevolution, to learn how to #LiveAdventurously.
Currently I run adventures open to everyone through my not-for-profit organisation Explorers Connect and Base Camp Festival and I speak about the benefits of adventure on wellbeing at schools, businesses and events. I founded Britain’s National Day of Adventure in 2014 and joined the Ordnance Survey GetOutside team in 2016 in order to grow the national day with them.
My background is in international expeditions. I travelled the world for 16 years. I’ve walked across Nicaragua, searched for camels in China’s Desert of Death, discovered ancient rock paintings in Lesotho, pioneered inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities, lead dozens of youth development expeditions around the world and gained a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain. As an expedition leader and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, I have managed remote trips for, amongst others Ray Mears, Chris Ryan and Bear Grylls.
Where and how did you spend time outdoors today?
What a great campaign idea! A year ago I moved to Exmoor National Park, so my time outside everyday just got a serious upgrade. I go for a hike with my son (eight-month old Jackson) every day in the woods or moors locally. Today it was raining so we only went for a short walk between the worst showers. There is a footpath on the opposite side of the road from our house, it follows a small river through woods and fields, blooms with bluebells in the spring, throngs with bird song in the early morning (with an eight-month old I have been seeing a lot of early mornings!), It never gets boring because it changes through the season and I get to show Jackson something new each time; he loves trees, he spends the walk looking up and marvelling. I let him reach out and touch the trees too but have to stop him from eating the leaves.
Tell us about your favourite outdoor activities.
When I was 18 I went on an expedition, I loved it and I decided then that in order to do adventure all the time, not just in my spare time, it was going to have to be my job. I’ve worked as an expedition and adventure leader, expedition manager, scuba diver, adventure film-maker and adventure photographer. So adventure has always been the theme but I’m a bit of a jack of all trades and master of none. I love pretty much everything outdoors and therefore want to try everything. Overseas I specialised in leading teams in jungles, deserts and low level mountains, in the UK I take groups hiking, wild swimming, diving and camping. For activities that I don’t have the experience to lead myself I manage the trip and work with an instructor with the skills in that area.
Now that I have a little one, I am learning to have adventures all over again. There are some logistical hurdles with a baby for example just going out for a walk or a surf during this lovely hot summer has been tricky because finding or making shade has been big a part of the planning. But where there are challenges there’s also a new magic. Camping has been much easier with a baby than we imagined, we have a cool little pop-up cot for him. He has never slept so well or been more happy than when we are outside all day and camping at night, so its good chance to catch up on some zzzs, which any other new parents will appreciate are gold dust.
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?
How long do you have? I could answer this all day….
The modern world has become too easy, too averse to challenge and too disconnected from nature. This lack of living adventurously is having a negative effect on our physical and mental health.
I believe that adventure is a necessity of the human spirit. Adventure makes us happier and healthier, it teaches us to take challenges, to appreciate our wild places and each other and gives us moments of real joy. I’ve spent 25 years taking groups into the wilderness and I’ve seen adventure change people’s lives, by fostering creativity, building confidence and giving inspiration
Ten years ago I started what I now call an #AdventureRevolution My aim is to help a generation re-connect with outdoor adventure.
I remember sitting with Belinda at our welcome meal when I joined the GetOutside Champions team back in January 2017 and being in complete awe about the adventures and expeditions she’s been on. Thank you, Bel, for using your life to inspire others to live more adventurously.
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.