The Outdoorsing Club Leaders: Hanna Smith
ACAI’s Outdoorsing Club is a series of free events around the UK to inspire women to try a new adventure in nature.
We’ve scoured the land for leaders in their field to host these events and take their groups on an Outdoorsing journey with like-minded women.
One of our leaders is Hanna Smith, better known by her popular Instagram handle Hanna.Outdoors. ACAI caught up with Hanna to pick her brains on all things Outdoorsing...
Have you always had a passion for the outdoors?
“Growing up I was always interested in being active. I grew up on the edge of the Peak District in a lovely village but was born in the Philippines and moved to the UK around three-years-old.
“My mum was a single parent so we didn't have as many opportunities to do outdoor activities as we would have liked.
“So it wasn't until I did a placement in Canada in my early twenties that I unlocked my true passion for the outdoors. When I came home after a few years I saw the UK in a different light and started to discover all these incredible places we have on British soil.”
Why do you think more women were encouraged to get outdoors during the pandemic?
“The pandemic was a strange time for all of us. Whether you were an essential worker, furloughed or not working, it brought some difficult times.
“The outdoors quickly became an integral way for us to escape and be free. I think it encouraged more women to try something they maybe hadn't done before and ignited a new passion. Or getting back into something they used to do.”
How did Covid change your path?
“So for the past five years I've been going on hikes, wild camping, indoor bouldering, wild dipping and trying new things and sharing my adventures on Instagram.
“I didn't know any other women who liked doing the same things as me, but since Covid I've been able to meet up with other like-minded women and have made friends through that little app. It’s been amazing.”
What barriers do you think there are to women spending time in the outdoors?
“Sexism still exists in the outdoors although this is slowly improving as we are seeing more female outdoor leaders/enthusiasts in quite a male dominated environment.
“I think it helps to break this stereotype by sharing our own experiences on social media platforms, making it the norm to see women in the outdoors enjoying the same hobbies as men, such as hiking and wild camping.
“It’s encouraging to see other women enjoying the outdoors and it spurs me on to be more adventurous and confident.”
Can you tell us your three best walks/hikes in the UK?
Helvellyn via Striding Edge
My first one has to be my first proper mountain hike that I did back in 2017, Helvellyn via Striding Edge. I had moved back from living and working in Banff, Canada and was going through reverse culture shock. This is when you return to your home country after a period of living away and feel like you don't belong or don't fit in - it didn't feel like 'home' to me. This was my first real experience of the mountains in the Lake District, and the views combined with the daring scramble felt euphoric. This was when my love for the outdoors in the UK began and it started to feel like home again.
Malham Cove, Gordale Scar & Janets Foss
My second is the Malham Cove, Gordale Scar & Janets Foss walk in the Yorkshire Dales. Yes it is touristy... but you can see why it is so popular! The limestone cliffs and geology are so fascinating, and you get beautiful woodland, waterfalls (with an optional wild dip), a scramble and rolling Yorkshire hills dotted with fluffy white sheep.
Finally the Lochinver circuit in the West Highlands of Scotland. This is an easy route that starts in Lochinver and follows a path along a salmon river through beautiful woodland before opening up to a plane of bright yellow gorse. You are surrounded by panoramic views of the surrounding Scottish mountains including the great ridge of Quinag and Suiliven. It’s also an area where deer roam, which makes this walk even more like something out of a story book!
What are your tips for first-time hikers?
“It can be quite daunting venturing out for the first time, so remember it doesn't need to be the biggest mountain or hardest scramble!
“I would recommend starting off on a well paved and clearly marked walk. A well marked walk will be easier to follow as there are no navigational skills required, so you can walk and enjoy the views and not have to keep checking a map.
“If you don't feel comfortable going on your own, ask a friend/family member to come with you or you can find Facebook groups in your area where you can connect with others in the same position. The Outdoorsing Club is a great place to start for this.
“Finally, be prepared. Check the weather forecast on the Met Office and then check it again before you set off. Always pack a waterproof, snacks/lunch, water, a means of calling for help, a battery pack and a map.”
Is there anything you do to build the outdoors into your everyday life?
“I am consciously trying to make an effort to go for a walk as soon as I finish work each day, even if it is only for 10-20 minutes. It really does do wonders on how you feel. I find it helps me de-stress after a busy day of work, it gets my heart rate up for that endorphin hit, and I feel content being surrounded by nature.”
What’s your next Outdoorsing adventure?
“Sharing my adventures on Instagram has brought some fantastic opportunities and I am currently presenting a seasonal walking series with Manchester's Finest, with a special guest each episode.
“Now that my partner and I have moved to Kendal I plan to set up a blog/YouTube channel to help encourage other women to get outdoors and support them with tips from my own experience.”