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Feel Wild |  Wild Places

Smell the old wooden jetties and rich damp grass as we head off on a sensory journey. Join us to see, hear, touch and taste the life of wild places.

Image: Sophie Turner via Unsplash

Focus on that Feeling

Recently, we launched our Wild I collective which seeks to explore the connection to a place that we can all associate with. The collective focuses on these connections through the eyes of talented artists who draw their inspiration from our wonderful natural playgrounds.

This project got us wondering how you, our outdoor, adventurous and overall cool people community experience these connections in your lives. We’ve collated the experiences of some of our online community to share this New Year. Here, we hope to share Wild places with you, some you may recognise, some you may never have visited and some might just inspire you to go somewhere new!

Below you'll find a collection of experiences of Wild places and examples of how we interpret the word 'wild'. Sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Got a Wild place you'd like to share with us? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

Find your Wild Space

Hoveringham Lake, Nottinghamshire UK

Ella Main

What's your favourite Wild place?

It's hard to choose a favourite place. It’s a toss-up between the Peak District and Hoveringham Lake (Nottingham). Hoveringham Lake is a local wild swim spot for friends, family and myself. It was a safe haven during the lockdowns and it created a connection with my mum that I hadn't ever had before, as well as a greater connection with nature and the earth.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

During March last year, it was evening and the sky was golden from the sun, it was a family friends birthday and we were all dressed up in fancy dress. We went swimming in the lake in 5° water. After we got out, got dry and warm, we then sat and watched the sun go down on the lake.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

Finding places like this gives you a new perspective on the world with a drive to preserve its tranquillity and beauty. It also creates a sense of community with other like-minded people all over the world.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

First, have a peaceful wander around the lake and then you can find the perfect spot for a swim. Then, dry off, get warm and sit by the lake. Listen to the birds and watch the colours on the water as they change. Also, don't forget to bring some mealworms for the local robin!

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Scottish Highlands, North West Scotland UK

Tim Wilson

What's your favourite Wild place?

I’m always drawn to forests and mountains; especially in the North. The air always feels clearer up North, but being in deep woods, particularly up high, is an amazing feeling. The mountainous forest has a special sort of quiet to it, and you suddenly become very aware of small details – tiny birds up high in the trees, obscure little plants, or simply how isolated you feel. It’s a very sensory experience, I love the smell of pine needles and the brittle whoosh of faint breeze that carries their scent. I always find myself going off to explore by myself and invariably I’ll sit for hours under (or up) a tree just listening and watching. Nature gets used to you when you do this, and it’s amazing when that happens.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

Cycling through the Scottish Highlands with my brother last summer. It’s hard to pick a favourite but this had all the ingredients – simple transport; quiet trails; a good companion; pristine weather; nature in abundance and we were completely exposed to all we encountered. Cycle touring shows you all there is to see, at your own pace. We pedalled for hours every day through miles of old-growth forest, just taking it all in. At the end of each day, we’d pitch the tent and watch the sunset against the spires of purpling trees, catch up on our favourite moments from the ride so far and just laugh in sheer good spirits. The buzzards’ keen cries would make way for tawny owls warbling from somewhere close by. In the morning we’d pack everything back up, have a quick breakfast on the warming grass and be on our way, knowing we were in for another full day of it.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

Spending time like this has helped me slow down. It’s a lasting feeling; whenever I find myself in a busy environment, I know that I can return to a space of peace that’s almost waiting in the wings. Being in quiet woodland can feel like a parallel universe, and that feeling helps me to anchor myself if I’m stressed. It’s also nourishing to know that nature simply carries on, and is there; even when our politics, cities and deadlines push us to forget.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

Turn your phone off or leave it at home. Bring a book, a nice hot drink, a bag to pick up litter, maybe also a journal or decent guide to the local flora and fauna. Bring less stuff and go with your mood – walk a little, stop and look around, walk some more. Make an effort to pay attention to what’s around you. Find a quiet spot, sit down, and let the birds and animals get used to you being there – I’ve had some really close encounters with sparrowhawks, foxes and deer by just sitting still and waiting. Pick up any litter you find and take yours home too. Look at the way the light changes throughout the day, and savour what you see.

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Inspired by Wild Places

Rocklands, South Africa

Freya Newbegin

What's your favourite Wild place?

I took a trip here in 2019 with my boyfriend and some friends. He had been before but this was my first trip, we went bouldering and stayed out there for a month! The landscape is so different from anywhere I had climbed before, such amazing rock features and beautiful views across the Cederberg mountains. Even though it’s a pretty popular climbing destination it still felt wild, there were days that we wouldn’t come across any other people out climbing and I remember how peaceful it felt to be in such a vast environment. This trip was the strongest I’ve felt when climbing, it felt good to tick off some classic problems.

What made this trip extra special was getting engaged during our stay, so it definitely holds a place in my heart.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

Aside from getting engaged! I would say just that feeling of waking up each morning and knowing the only agenda for the day was to climb some amazing rock and be outdoors all day. No distractions, no stress, just climbing. Knowing that you’re going to get some decent juggy holds to top out a boulder problem was also amazing, you don’t get that often in Yorkshire!

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

It’s such a special place that I want to go back to again, and now take my daughter to experience it too. I realise that I need to take extended trips away on a regular basis to really feel content and refreshed. That way I feel more inspired to come back to my work in the UK.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

I would say to see as many sunsets as possible. I’ve never seen such amazing colours in the sky as I did in Rocklands. Also to see the stars at night is incredible, it’s so dark that you really get an amazing display.

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Camasunary, Isle of Skye, Scotland UK

Christopher Hall

What's your favourite Wild place?

My favourite wild place is Camasunary. This Coire sits in the heart of the Cuillin mountains and to most is a short stop over on the Isle of Skye trail. However, when I first passed through I couldn’t help but stay another night. The mountains sit above grand waterfalls which tower above a meadow that rolls on into the sea. There is no greater beauty and peace.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

Having arrived at Camasunary after a storm, to my dismay, one of the many river crossings was suddenly impassable and so to find a place to pass safely I followed the river up the valley. However, instead of finding some stepping stones that would take me home, I found grand waterfalls that crashed over the slabs of gabbro and the only option to cross was to jump over the torrent. Fear took over me and I battled with myself until fear became frustration. Eventually though, the mountains eased my head and I took the leap. When I landed, a wave of joy flooded my system. I no longer was in any rush to follow the path and so headed further and further up river, jumping, running and dancing up the rocky falls.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

It is a wild, wild place and so your plans will be thwarted at every opportunity. However, it teaches that failure is just another step towards success and beauty. It teaches you to explore more, embrace your instinct to jump in puddles and roll down hills. Enjoy the journey.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

Walk up every river, swim in the sea and meditate in the meadow. Just take the time to soak in nature.

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Nature Inspired Designs

Ogwen Valley, North Wales UK

Jacob Martin

What's your favourite Wild place?

I’m a big fan of all sorts of wild places. Almost everywhere is interesting to me but somewhere that stands out is the mountains of North Wales. Specifically the Ogwen valley. When you first see this place it is pretty special, the ridge of Tryfan stands tall in the middle with the lake below. I first saw this view from my mountain bike, we came over the mountains from the north as the sun was going down and I saw this amazing view of craggy mountain peaks and knew it was somewhere I needed to explore more.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the valley, many days with great people. There was one time I scrambled the North ridge of Tryfan at sunset with the most amazing friends. We had great big chats all the way up and down, ate chocolate and had all the laughs standing at the top.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

I hadn’t explored this part of the country very much until only a couple of years ago, even though it is so close to where I live. It made me realise that there are amazing wild places where there is a lot of adventure to be had without getting on a plane to the other side of the world.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

Go where others have gone. Go where others haven’t. Look up. Look down. Hike to the highest peak. Jump in the lake for a swim.

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Rumbling Bald, North Carolina USA

Brittanie Bessettent

What's your favourite Wild place?

The top place that stands out in my mind is the Rumbling Bald. This isn't the first outdoor climbing stop I ever went to, but it is the one that changed the way I look at the climbing community. I was introduced to this spot by an ex and it has held a special place in my heart no matter what the situation. The Bald is located near Chimney Rock State Park and Lake Lure in North Carolina and is maintained by the Carolina Climber Coalition.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

Practically all the time I spend at the Bald I spend climbing; while I was with my partner it was spent bouldering (standard boulderer who was disgusted by the sight of a rope). It wasn't till after we seperated that rope started to find a place in my climbing routine.

One of my first trips back to the bald was spent with the most amazing group of climbers, specifically trad climbers. They showed me the way of the ropes and my life was forever changed. Sitting at the top of Gunboat Diplomacy for the first time staring out into Lake Lure, I remember why I worked so hard to climb to the top; that will hold a special place in my heart forever.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

The Bald is one of those places you can expect to see all types of people from the family with that one teenager who is wearing an oversize hoodie and dragged outside, to the boulderer who's carrying four crash pads and a gallon of water.

My favourite time though is competition time. The Bald host many outdoor comps, including Rumble at the Bald; there's nothing like the sight of hundreds of climbers walking down the path and up the mountain to just send some routes and have a rad time. This has been one of the top places I have gone to meet new climbers and network, plus the amount of pads you have to help work your project is insanes. Supportive, loving, and mellow there really is nothing like the southern climbing community.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

The Bald has everything from sport and trad climbing, an insane amount of bouldering, and hiking if you're into that kinda thing. For one of my favourites you have to come during flowering seasons; as you turn into the Bald there is the most amazing flower bridge. They label the flowers and provide you with one of the most serene outdoor experiences. If all of that is not your style there is the cutest little mountain just a little up the road with a brewery, shops, and good foods.

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The Dolomites Mountain Range, Italy

Henry George

What's your favourite Wild place?

Defined by towering spires of crumbling limestone, the iconic cathedral like rock formations of the Dolomites erupt from the valleys below. It’s no surprise that these mountains can have a big effect on those who spend time there, and it’s certainly no secret that they’re considered some of the most beautiful mountains on earth. For me, they are the very best of wild places.

Back in 2019 I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Alta Badia. Having spent time there across the seasons, I was lucky enough to gain a deeper understanding of the cultures, history and sports that make the Dolomites such an exciting place. Their sense of magic and opportunity for mountain sports is encapsulating, and it certainly played a large role in setting the direction of my mountain oriented lifestyle.

I think to me, the thing that makes the Dolomites truly special is their captivating history. While you indulge in their modern-day pleasures, you can’t help but notice the traces of a previous war, not to mention the odd pieces of shrapnel still littered across the rocks.

During the first world war, the Dolomites was a heavily contested area between Italy and Austria, and was home to some of the most brutal mountain warfare of the time. The mountains of today are littered with trenches and tunnels, like Lagazuoi, now a famous tourist attraction. Troops even went to the extremes of tunnelling into the Marmolada glacier. But from the extensive and bloody history, a harmonious mix of cultures has grown over the last century, leaving us with mountain communities steeped in culture, and not to mention the never-ending choice of food...

The Dolomites are also a very accessible mountain range, and by this, I mean you don’t need to be an exceptional climber thanks to the intricate network of Via Ferrata. With all the thrills of high mountain climbing, these make for some very memorable days in the Mountains.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

My favourite memory of the Dolomites has to be the Oskar Schuster via ferrata in the Sassolungo massif - my first real taste of mountain exploration in the Dolomites. It provided an iconic experience that had me instantly hooked. The via ferrata itself works its way up through the towering spires of Sassolungo to top out at the summit of Sassopiato, providing some incredible views to finish. It has everything you could want for an introduction to the Dolomites and it’s a memory that will certainly stay with me for a very long time.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

I think the Dolomites not only changed my perspective on life, but they changed its path altogether. Before moving to the Dolomites, I found myself at a crossroads in my early 20’s with little direction in my life, desperately trying to figure out what I was going to do.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet and work with some truly talented and inspiring people who all shared a mutual passion for the mountains, each with their own interests and fields of expertise. I think that rubbed off on me and now I have my own passion for all thing’s mountain, something that my bank balance and I have a somewhat love hate relationship over...

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

If you're visiting the Dolomites for the first time in the summer, which I can't recommend highly enough, try a via ferrata. With grades varying from easy scrambles to vertical and highly exposed accents, there's something for everyone. The abundance of routes provides a unique way of exploring the Dolomites that's unlike any other mountain range in the world and leaves you with endless choices to explore. For spectacular climbing, check out the iconic Cinque Torri, a must visit destination for any climber thanks to its extensive selection of sport and trad routes. Afterwards, don't forget to drop by at one of the mountain huts and enjoy some Kaiserschmarrn, a South Tyrol classic sweet treat.

If you're a ski tourer and heading out in winter, I'd recommend exploring the extensive choice of couloirs. For all the best classics, get yourself a copy of 'Ski Mountaineering in the Dolomites' by Enrico Baccanti & Francesco Tremolada. On your way home, don't forget to swing by a mountain hut and ask for a Calimero for a great end to the day!

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The Lake District, UK

Rachel Mulford

What's your favourite Wild place?

To choose my favourite wild place is difficult, between Ogwen Valley, The Scottish Highlands and the Lake District, I am spoilt for choice.

However, The Lake District has a special place in my heart, a place with a feeling of home every time I am there. From Climbing crags, hiking the mountains and paddle boarding on the lakes, it has everything that makes me feel calm and happy.

Does this place emote a special memory for you?

A time I will always cherish in the Lakes was a cold but sunny weekend just before Christmas. I had spent the day with my dog Merlin, hiking in the mountains that overlook Buttermere and finished my day on the summit of Dale Head for the most beautiful sunset and 360 views. In that very moment, sitting with Merlin, watching the sun set, my heart felt full. And after what had been a difficult year, I had a feeling of ‘I'm going to be okay, I’ve got this’.

Has time spent in this place affected your perspective on life?

The Lake District has opened my mind to moving away from the area I have grown up in. It is somewhere I see myself living, hopefully in the not so distant future. I feel like the time I have spent here has had a really positive impact on my mental health and happiness. Whenever I am in the Lake District all the stresses of life seem to disappear. It has also opened up to a fantastic community of like minded people who travel from far and wide to spend time here.

If someone was visiting this place for the first time, what would you advise them to do?

If someone was visiting for the first time I would say to put your phone in your bag, grab a book or a journal and lose yourself in relaxation by one of the many beautiful lakes. Take a hike in the stunning mountains, of which have many routes for all abilities. And explore the stunning caves near Ambleside.

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