THE GETOUTSIDE INTERVIEWS | CHARLOTTE DITCHBURN – PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY EXPLORER

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I enjoy featuring people here on Splodz Blogz who love to spend time outdoors through my GetOutside Interview series, in the hope that they may encourage you to spend a little bit more time outside more often.

In today’s GetOutside interview I’m chatting to Charlotte Ditchburn, otherwise known as Public Rights of Way Explorer. Charlotte spends her time promoting and securing rights of way and access for walkers and riders (bikes and horses) in our countryside.  

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The GetOutside Interviews | Charlotte Ditchburn

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?!

My name is Charlotte and I’m the face behind Public Rights of Way Explorer. I was born and bred in the Lake District but moved to Suffolk in 2018 and have now settled down here.

I spend my working days working to promote and secure the provision, protection and preservation of rights of way and of access for ridden and driven horses over public roads, highways, footpaths, bridleways, carriageways, public paths and other land. My average day at work is usually made up of responding to planning applications, researching and putting together Definitive Map Modification Orders, working with stakeholders and user groups, supporting volunteers and responding to queries from the general public.

I was previously a Public Rights of Way Officer and now champion access in my day job and through Public Rights of Way Explorer.

On the menu this evening is creamy pesto shrimp on a bed of wild rice (that’s pretty fancy for compared to my usual go-to Friday night takeaway).

Splodz Blogz GetOutside Interviews | Charlotte Ditchburn, Public Rights of Way Explorer

Where and how you spent time outdoors today?

I love the One Hour Outside campaign, I’m lucky to permanently work from home so get to spend a lot of time outside. Part of my hour is spent walking my two dogs every day. I love my dog walks, and while they can be a little mundane and repetitive, they really help break up the day. I enjoy extra time outdoors even more than the daily dog walks; I like to vary time outside from an evening otter spotting at my local Wildlife Trust site to starting the day with a paddle on the river.

Tell us about your favourite outdoor activities.

I love generally being outside whatever I’m doing, but my favourite outdoor activities include horse riding, paddle boarding, hill walking, wild swimming and wild camping. I love getting outside on my own and in groups; solo adventures give me the head space I need but getting outside with other like-minded people is so much fun.

I don’t currently have any huge adventures planned, I’m looking forward to some much-needed down time in Uist and Islay this year which were cancelled last year, and I am training to become a Hill and Moorland Leader so getting quality walk days in England and Scotland will be fun throughout this year.

I have recently become part of The Outdoorsy Type Suffolk team so we will be hosting many exciting outdoor events this year getting people together outdoors for walks, swims and paddles.

Splodz Blogz GetOutside Interviews | Charlotte Ditchburn, Public Rights of Way Explorer

With all the pressures of normal life, how do you make sure you find the time for outdoors adventure?

The pressures of daily life can really get me down, especially through the pandemic when all the little things have had a much bigger impact than they usually would. My time in green and blue spaces has been essential to my mental health even more than normal. It has always been a challenge for me to fit outdoors adventures into normal life as I work full time, volunteer as a Riding for the Disabled Coach twice a week and try to fit in a social life too.

I love micro adventures exploring my local area and home county of Suffolk, I find these adventures the easiest to squeeze in as they can be done on a normal working day. My favourite micro adventures usually consist of heading out with my camera in the hope of catching some wildlife, my favourite spot being a local fen where otters are regularly spotted. Or just heading out into nature either on foot or on my paddle board to just be surrounded by the sounds and smells of the outdoors, grounding myself.

Bigger adventures mean saving up a weeks’ worth of annual leave and usually mean a trip to Scotland either with the dogs to a holiday cottage or pillion on the boyfriend’s motorbike for a tour. I love what Britain has to offer, spending many long weekends back at my childhood home with my parents in the Lakes I adore heading back out on my favourite mountains and even discovering new hidden gems off the beaten track. Trips abroad are a rare treat, I used to enjoy adventures overseas with my local scout group and would love to make them a more regular occurrence.

Splodz Blogz GetOutside Interviews | Charlotte Ditchburn, Public Rights of Way Explorer

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’ve found the outdoors a breathing space, having suffered with PTSD, depression and anxiety, I found an escape in outdoor spaces and activities. I hope I can help others to restore their mental wellbeing through time outdoors, and realise the importance of green and blue spaces for our mental health. It is more important than ever before to spend time in the great outdoors, having experienced lockdown we’ve rediscovered our local areas and remembered how vital the great outdoors is to both our physical and mental health.

I grew up living a very outdoorsy lifestyle, being dragged up mountains with my parents, being adventurous as a cub and a scout and completing my Duke of Edinburgh award. These experiences really made the outdoors part of my life and I want to give others access to these wonderful opportunities and share my enthusiasm for the outdoors with everyone I meet.

Splodz Blogz GetOutside Interviews | Charlotte Ditchburn, Public Rights of Way Explorer

Thank you Charlotte for sharing something of your love of the outdoors with me. I always enjoy chatting with a fellow motorcyclist, and love that you keep your time outdoors super varied with paddle boarding, hiking, camping, horse riding, and lots of other things too. I totally agree about the impact that green and blue spaces can have on our mental health, and I always enjoy catching up on your outdoor adventures on your blog and social media.

To find out more about Charlotte and follow her outdoors adventures, check out her PROW Explorer website, head over to instagram, or follow her on facebook.

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.

Read all the GetOutside Interviews

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