Being a GetOutside Champion over the last year has been a very different experience. But the Ordnance Survey campaign to encourage more people to spent more time outside more often has continued through the pandemic, and we’ve done our best to encourage you to explore your local area, plan adventures for the future, and spend time outside safely.
Now things are starting to open up again (and I very much hope it’s forever this time…), I thought it was about time I rekindled my GetOutside Interviews series to introduce you to some more of my outdoorsy friends.
This time around I chat to Phillipa Cherryson, who lives on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons and is part of the awesome Adventure Queens community.
The GetOutside Interviews | Phillipa Cherryson
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? What do you do (the day job)? What’s for dinner tonight?!
Hi my name is Phillipa Cherryson. I’m a magazine writer and I’m lucky enough to live in Monmouthshire, South Wales, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. I turned 50 this year which was a huge shock as I really don’t know where all the years have gone! I’m lucky to live in the countryside with my long-term partner, our two dogs Benji and Sid and my horse Gus and his friend Ice. Tonight’s dinner is sausages with roasted vegetables and couscous – tasty comfort food.
Where and how you spent time outdoors today?
Most of the day I’m at my computer like so many people, so my time outside is precious to me. If I don’t get outside then I don’t function properly. My dogs are great as they need walking twice a day so it makes me go outside, whether its a perfect summer’s day or freezing cold and pouring with rain. I might curse the dogs when I’m pulling on my wet weather gear, but once I’m outside I love it – the rain and the wind can make you feel really alive. Today I didn’t have much time as I had so much on with work but the forecast was dry so I set my alarm early – yes it really hurt. But it was worth it. The birds were singing and the sunrise was so beautiful. It felt a real privilege to be out.
During lockdown I started running, well I call it trotting. In Wales we’ve only been able to exercise from our doorsteps for a lot of the past year. Because I was busy with work, I could only get an hour outdoors most days and that meant a plod through the muddy cow fields. I wanted to go further but didn’t have the time to do it. My friend suggested I trot it instead… not really running, but a gentle trot and then walking up hills. When I started I could barely manage a minute but now I’m now going so much further and it means that in that hour I can now trot through the cow fields and then into a beautiful woodland and up through the ruins of an ancient castle and then round the side of a hillside and back home again. What a difference!
Tell us about your favourite outdoor activities.
Most of my outdoor adventures are on foot. Until a few years ago I was quite a cautious walker and would only do tried and trusted routes. My partner is a long-term member of mountain rescue and whenever we walked together he would lead and navigate, so I lacked confidence to go it alone. But then three years ago I heard about Adventure Queens, a not-for-profit online community. It sounded amazing and I went along to one of their walks, an end to end of the Malvern Hills. I was so nervous! I thought I would be the oldest there, the slowest and that no one would want to talk to me. But it was amazing, with women of different ages and speed. We spent the day chatting and laughing – and no one got left behind!
After that I volunteered to run the South Wales group. Since then I’ve organised weekend camp outs, a thru-hike of the 99-mile Beacons Way, scrambling weekends, surfing, day walks, climbing, SUP sessions and even an axe throwing morning. I’ve loved seeing so many women grow in confidence from being outdoors. Many of them say joining the group has changed their lives – just like it has for me!
I’m so excited for this summer! I’ve organised a few Adventure Queens weekends already – we’re going to Gower to camp out and we’re having surfing lessons and going for a walk around Rhossili Bay. Then in July I’ve organised a weekend of scrambling in Snowdonia. In between there will be day walks and my own mountain walks with just me and my dogs. There will be a thru-hike too but I still can’t decide whether to go to the coast or the mountains. I just wish I had more free time as there are so many things I would love to do and so many places I’d love to visit. I love trying lots of new outdoor activities. I’m not an athlete and have never been sporty, so I don’t excel in anything, but I enjoy a lot of things at lower levels – so walking, climbing, scrambling, mountain biking and a few water sports too – but nothing too dramatic!
With all the pressures of normal life, how do you make sure you find the time for outdoors adventure?
Life can get very busy for me and sometimes it’s so hard to step away from my computer. During the day I force myself to get up every hour and stand outside the door or walk around the garden for five minutes, just to breathe in the fresh air.
But to get a good hour outdoors, I have to set the alarm and get up early. If I try to go out later in the day, then it never happens as my list of things to do seems to get longer as the day goes on! So the night before I’ll make sure my rucksack is packed and my drink bottle is ready for me in the fridge to take. If everything is prepared it’s so much easier in the morning.
I plan the Adventure Queens weekends and events well in advance so I know those are coming up, but at the weekends we’ll always have one morning walk. I love leaving home in the dark and setting out up a mountain just as it’s getting light. Watching a sunrise from a mountain top has to be one of life’s greatest privileges.
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?
Getting outside is so important. I call it my soul food. If I get outside for an hour in a day, then I function better and I’m a nicer person to be around!! For me walking up a mountain is like hitting a reset button. It puts so many things back into perspective.
It’s really easy to find excuses not to get outside, to snuggle under your duvet for an extra hour or put on an extra layer instead of going for a fast walk around the block to get your circulation going. But go for it, don’t hesitate. Your warm bed will be waiting for you tonight and you won’t need those extra layers once you’ve been for a walk and if it really cold.. nothing beats a soak in the bath after a winter walk
.So, what are you waiting for? Get outside, listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, watch the sunrise over the hills or mountains or try a new outdoor activity. Doing that changed my life – I really hope it changes yours too.
Thanks Phillipa, you talk a lot of sense here, and I’m so pleased you found the Adventure Queens and a love for hiking and all things outdoors. I very much look forward to meeting you in real life when restrictions allow!
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.