WILD ADVENTURE WOMEN // ABBEY (BEE) JAMES

WILD ADVENTURE WOMEN // ABBEY (BEE) JAMES

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively, unless you can choose a challenge instead of a competence.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Bee has been one of my biggest inspirations in the outdoor community most importantly her social is honest the good and the bad which makes her relatable She inspires me to try new sports and drink more coffee. I am also currently stalking her trail runs!

You can find Bee on Instagram tampandwander and Twitter tampandwander go find her, one of my favourite Instagrammers during lockdown and a source of inspiration always!

1. Can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Bee and I’m hurtling towards 30. I find myself in the fortunate position of being able to say yes to most types of adventure. From trail running to novice skiing and hiking to stand up paddling. I’m a fair-weather wild swimmer and I cycle more as a mode of transport than for sport. You’ll find me happiest road-tripping and car camping across the UK, mixing my affair with the outdoors with my other love – coffee. 

2. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?  

Before 2018, adventuring for me was family visits to National Trust properties or other stately homes and gardens, around christmas time. Fresh cold air burning my cheeks as I’m wrapped up in layers of knitted accessories and wearing my wellies. Perhaps a dog walk or a hike in Bronte Country with a friend’s parents one weekend. Since discovering that the outdoors is a plentiful space that should be explored and cherished, I have had countless memories to make up for the many years I missed out. In October 2018, me and my partner took a road trip on the NC500. We wild camped for the first night in Applecross. There was nobody around and the sky was so clear. You could hear the waves crashing and see the warm light of the pub across the bay. Before the sun had set we took different paths for a solo hike exploring the wilderness. I was empowered knowing I am capable, with all I had learnt in previous months, to hike alone along the Scottish west coast. As we set up camp, we saw the occasional doe on the beach but thought little of it, but a classic, truly wild experience. The night drew in and we were reminded that it was in fact deer rutting season, and the deep-throated belches of these magnificent nuisances kept us wide-eyed and awake for hours. We packed up and moved on by four in the morning. 

3. What are three things on your bucket list?

Island hopping around the Outer Hebrides and Shetland islands, as well as a trip to the faroe islands and further afield to the Lofoten Islands of Norway. I’ve been enjoying what we have on our doorsteps though. It’s in our culture to travel far to feel we have seen something amazing, and forget to look at and appreciate the wonders we have here in the UK. 

4. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration? 

There is a whole host of inspiring womxn in the outdoor community. But I look at all actions by Womxn who speak and act to break down barriers in the world through adventure or life in general. For a foot into this world of education, friends such as @aileenenglishtutor vocalises injustices in the past and present. I’m inspired by any womxn who doesn’t apologise for taking up space. 

5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self? 

The countryside, garden, or just that park bench, is not gross and icky. Oh and exercise doesn’t have to mean regimented gym workouts or running around the village. You actually have the fitness level to hike a mountain and run down it, or traverse a ridgeline, so maybe buy a pair of trainers and educate yourself. 

6. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey? 

Find someone who is already doing what you want to do, and take onboard what they teach you. Read/ listen to wiser people with experience who can show you what kit will aid your experience, how to respect the natural environments you want to explore, and leave no trace. That doesn’t mean just picking up litter (though this is a big point). It means not disturbing habitats, not lighting fires and scorching the ground, not taking rocks/ flora and fauna home with you.

7. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?

I’m tired, I’m cold and my feet are wet. Many of my adventures have been out of my comfort zone. And a lot of them have resulted in type two fun, where I was crying in the middle and ferociously battling fields of nettles or bog or the fact that skiing is just controlled falling (!), but then after I’m met with a feeling of “what’s next? Bring it on!”

However sometimes you are met with your line. That you will not cross again. This for me was when me and my partner took to the lake district after work one winter, to find the snow. And we found it. And I was miserable. My first ascent up Helvellyn. We took the most direct route which happened to be the steepest. My partner was navigating, as he has ample experience and training. It was pitch black with flutters of ice falling through the cone of light from my head torch. my whole world was isolated to the circle of vision on the hard frozen ground. Every foot lifted was whipped by icy wind that chilled me to the bone. I couldn’t enjoy the view, I couldn’t enjoy the snow. I couldn’t see the stars or make conversation through the howling weather. We were never in danger and we completed our expedition to find the first snow of the season. But it was a definitive moment of what fun in the hills looks like to me. It doesn’t look like that.

8. What is your favourite thing about the outdoor community?  

The outdoor community is a place with contentious issues. It encapsulates community and industry together. It’s a community with a wealth of knowledge, and you can find people from many walks of life who all have a bond, that is adventure. If you want to try a new sport, or discover a new place, or start a new venture, there is tremendous support. Friends made through social channels, or out on the hills, can raise you up and help you learn/ develop/ grow. As Freya Hodson said “don’t worry about sliding into those DM’s” of someone who is experienced in your sport. There’s a culture of shared knowledge and skills.

9. Is there anything you would change about the outdoor community?

As I mentioned, the outdoor community has room to improve. There’s an unfortunate silo position that can exclude people who are of difference race, ethnicity or culture. My first Kendal Mountain Festival was a surreal experience. Everyone appeared to know everybody. But everybody was also very alike. Finding a group to become a part of was easier for me as a white middle class woman, dating an outdoor influencer, and it still felt intimidating. To quote @pattiegonia “your outdoor adventure doesn’t have to look like the toxic masculinity peak bagging narrative that the majority of the outdoor industry/ community thinks is the only “worthy” way to get outdoors. Let’s break the mould, and really welcome everyone.

10. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes, what’s stopping you? 

I’d love to try EVERYTHING. Crippling fear of falling or failing is my biggest stopper. Second to that is having not made time for them yet. I take opportunities to adventure as they come up. I should seek them out more. Watch out for me paragliding from a mountain top or rollerblading down a small slope (so scary!)

11. Has the outdoors impacted your mental health?

Adventures and the outdoor space has been a great tool to help manage my mental and physical health. I wouldn’t say it is a solution to my anxieties, however it is a form of escapism and it brings me such joy. Whilst hiking or running on the hills, I’m being more physically and mentally active, whilst boosts my self esteem and sense of achievement. When paddling on a calm lake or river, I have a chance to experience something meditative and contemplative. 

12. What does a typical adventure day look like for you?

Ordinarily I adventure with my partner. He’s an early riser so the start of my day is one of luxury. Bags and car packed, lunch made and coffee brewing. I begin to wake up as I’m sipping my coffee and he’s shaufering me up the M6 to the lake district. We’re on the hills early and on less travelled paths to avoid high traffic areas of the wonderful landscape. Hiking the ups, running the flats and downs, stopping to smell the roses and taking shots for social media. As he runs laps around me, I listen through my heavy breathing to the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. I watch the terrain change under my feet as I fly down the fells. I gaup at the landscape and then complain about my wet feet. I never sleep as well as the night after a day in the mountains. 

13. What is the one song you would pick to sum up your time outdoors? 

Nina Simone – I’m feeling good.

14. What three things do you always carry on your adventures? 

First aid kit

Foil blanket

Whistle

15. What is your favourite snack while on adventures.?

Homemade granola chocolate bars and cold pizza – for a day out.

All of the above, plus Nissin Demae Ramen, bread and hummus, and cherry tomatoes – for a road trip adventure.

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