Blazing a trail 2/5

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In an industry that’s long been dominated by male adventurers, five of the UK’s most boundary-pushing female explorers talk about the trials and triumphs of being a woman in the wild. Part 2 of 5.

Words: Hannah Ralph. Illustrations: Adrianna Bellet

Pip Stewart

Adventure journalist

‘Women have a tremendous power to lift each other up’

Adventurous beginnings
I went through Brownies loving the outdoorsy stuff, especially camping. And the badge system, too, which taught me a lot about goal setting. If I had to attribute the start of my career to anything, though, it would be The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award — that experience really took things to the next level for me.

Defining moments
When I cycled from Malaysia to London, I experienced unbelievable generosity. Islam has a proverb, 'a guest is a gift from God', and even in the poorest communities, people would welcome us into their homes. It’s easy to focus on negatives, but this helped me realise there are so many benefits of being a woman, including that we’re not seen as much of a threat.

Woman to woman
I find a real beauty in the sisterhood. As women, we have this tremendous power to lift each other up. So get together with your group and head into the wild — I’m positive you’ll have a great time.

Power games 
I love Instagram, but with all these bodies sculpted to perfection, you have to remember that’s not most people’s reality. The reality is we’re all different; we don’t always look great. Personally, I’ve never felt more beautiful than when I’m sweating, hyped up on endorphins during an expedition.

Getting started
Find your niche. I got into adventure because I love telling stories, and wanted to tell them in more interesting ways, from more interesting places. Be it videography, photography or writing — develop your skill. You can go down the social media influencer route, but that might have a short shelf life, and the alternatives are so much more rewarding. 

Parting words

Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, don’t stick around for politeness’ sake. And think back to those badges — if we didn’t know those badges existed, we wouldn’t have known to achieve them. It’s the same with gender — if we don’t know we can do it, we wouldn’t be doing it at all. Find your female role models and know what’s possible. 

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