Meet the new collection of OS Champions who will be leading the GetOutside charge and showcasing the best of Britain with their stories and tips in 2017.
After sifting through over 460 applications from the wonderful and inspirational British public, we are pleased to announce our new OS Champions. These people will be helping and inspiring you to GetOutside in 2017 – follow them on Twitter and Instagram to get advice, stories, tips, and gorgeous photos.
GetOutside Champion Ben Fogle, who has rowed the Atlantic, comes with an undisputed passion for the outdoors and you may recognise him from programmes including Countryfile, Wild in Africa, One Man and His Dog, Country Tracks and A Year of Adventures for Lonely Planet and BBC Worldwide.
Ben currently presents Harbour Lives, Countrywise and Fisherman’s Lives for ITV and New Lives in the Wild (Where the Wildmen Are) for Channel 5.
Extreme endurance adventurer Sean Conway is the first and only man in history to cycle, swim and run the length of Britain. He completed the record-breaking feat in 2015 when he ran from John O’Groats to Land’s End in just 44 days, having previously cycled and swum the route.
In 2016 Sean raised the bar once more when he took on the greatest challenge of his life. Starting in April 2016, he completed a self-supported 4000+ mile, continuous Ultra Triathlon that circumnavigates the entire coast of mainland Britain and Discovery Channel followed Sean’s incredible and dangerous journey.
Zoe Homes has always been a lover of the outdoors. From a very young age she has enjoyed playing outside, hiking with her family, camping, and generally spending as much time outside of her house as possible. She is a huge advocate of the benefits of regular fresh air, and does her best to encourage others to make the most of the world outside their own front door. She is also a co-founder of the Outdoor Bloggers network.
Zoe loves to hike, and has done a number of hiking challenges in recent years, including the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the Lyke Wake Walk (Zoe adds that if you've not heard of it, look it up, it's a brilliant but quite challenging stroll in the North Yorkshire Moors).
"I believe that life is all about the journey. It’s no good just waiting to get to our destination, we have to make the most of the travelling."
Kenton Cool is one of the world’s leading high-altitude climbers, and it's fair to say that he's really passionate about the outdoors. He has successfully climbed Mount Everest twelve times, having first been introduced to mountaineering when he read about Hillary and Norgay’s first ascent on Mount Everest in 1953.
In 1996 he suffered a fall and shattered both heel bones. Determined not to be beaten, Kenton underwent a year of surgery and therapy, and went on to become one of the most well-known mountaineers in Britain.
'"Adventure represents the greatest form of learning we have. Adventure is a personal thing, it means different things to different people but if you can hit the right cord then all of a sudden that individual will be inspired."
Belinda Kirk – Image: belindakirk.com
Social entrepreneur, explorer and speaker, Belinda has pioneered inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities, lead a dozen youth development expeditions around the world and gained a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain.
An expert expedition leader, Belinda has managed remote trips for, amongst others, outdoor survival gurus Ray Mears and Bear Grylls. Belinda launched Explorers Connect, a social enterprise connecting people to adventures in 2009. It's now a community of 25,000+ open to everyone from total beginners to experienced explorers to link with adventures, team-mates and adventure industry jobs.
She also runs Britain's most adventurous festival Base Camp Festival and established Britain's first national day of adventure, Wild Night Out to help disadvantaged kids get outdoors.
As the person who once decided to walk from Norwich to London because the train ticket was too expensive, Andy rarely needs an excuse to get out there and explore his surroundings. He says 'there is nothing quite like the powerful solitude of hiking solo in the Scottish Highlands, or nothing quite like the navigational challenge of the windswept Brecons'.
The Lake District remains his favourite place in the world. For Andy, it is the place which encapsulates adventure, and he says that visiting fills him with the same childish glee, as it did was when he first visited as a cub scout 20 years ago.
As someone who works with young people both as a teacher and in the Scout Association, Andy wants to show young people (and older young people!) how exciting the outdoors can be.
Lauren is a mum of one and a lover of the outdoors. She first started her blog as a way of documenting all the camping trips, walks and days out that she and her family have enjoyed.
The blog developed into an award nominated blog, with Lauren priding herself on making adventures and exploration as accessible as possible for everyone, regardless of experience or budget and regularly writing up her top tips and weekly trips.
Russell and Jana love to explore the everyday places that can be reached by almost everybody. This includes discovering those small disused train tracks, the canal paths between towns and cities and people’s local paths that often go unused, while reinforcing the belief that you don't need to be super fit or have incredible skills to do it..
In 2015 Russell scooted from Land's End to John O'Groats (LEJOG), inspiring friends to cycle it in 2016. In 2017, Russell will be learning to swim so that he can swim in Loch Ness.
Russell also works as a consultant in London, presenting & public speaking his passion and spreading the word through adventure that we should challenge ourselves, try something new. Earlier this year, Russel and Jana had their book ‘Amazing family Adventures’ published by the National Trust, as well as releasing their book about Devon’s walks.
For Emily Thompson, being outdoors is an addiction, and she particularly loves hiking at any opportunity she gets.
When she's not romping over the mountains or dreaming up the next adventure, Emily works for a charity inspiring positive changes and providing second chances to young people.
Emily also works as a freelance Mountain Leader, working with young people through their Duke of Edinburgh award – training, supervising and assessing their expeditions around the UK, and providing adults with a variety of adventures in the outdoors, and is also an active callout member of her local Mountain Rescue Team.
"There is nothing like the feeling of the wind on your face to make you feel alive – its a perfect ‘reset button’ to modern life."
Glyn has been a hill-walker for 50 years, walking all over the world but particularly in Wales, Scotland and Lake District. His love for the outdoors and survival started as a young Scout, before he joined the RAF and trained in combat survival.
Not content to take it easy, Glyn is a Radio Amateur and participates in an scheme called Summits-On-The-Air, which involves operating portable radio equipment from the tops of summits using onlythe equipment carried in your rucksack.
Having just turned 60 himself, Glyn was surprised to see how little encouragement there is to get the 'older generation' out into the hills. And despite suffering from arthritis, severe pain and a stroke 2 years ago, he is a determined Champion for the greater involvement of over 60's in hill-walking.
Kate grew up spending a lot of her time outdoors as a child. As a teenager, she joined the Sea Cadets, where she learned to navigate and undertake expedition training. Kate has taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Ten Tors challenge and now absolutely loves the outdoors.
You can find her out and about most weekends, and she is always planning new adventures on her blog. In 2016, Kate climbed to the summit of Kilimanjaro and would love to spread the enjoyment you can get from these sort of trips with everyone. Whilst not everybody can climb Kilimanjaro, Kate would like to make more people of all fitness levels aware of what is on their doorstep and the beautiful locations we have in Britain.
Belinda Dixon loves inspiring others to GetOutside in Britain with her blog. Belinda is a travel (Lonely Planet) and adventure writer, a broadcaster and a leader for the charity the British Exploring Society. And in each of these areas of her professional and charity work Belinda champions the benefits of an active, outdoors lifestyle. She says that she also loves to 'showcase how everyone – whoever and wherever you are, and however you live – can enrich their lives by getting outside.'
Belinda loves to make the outdoors accessible and hopes to work through the Beginners Guides in 2017 and put them into practice, as well as to lead on another British Exploring expedition.
Belinda Dixon – Image: Malcolm Snelgrove via @beldixon/Twitter
Jen & Sim Benson
The Bensons – Image: jenandsimbenson.co.uk
Jen & Sim love exploring Britain and wrote the Wild Running book - the first UK guide to off-road running - to showcase the incredible trails this country has to offer.
They're experienced runners with a wealth of navigation experience - and a huge collection of OS maps! The Benson's are also the editors of the routes section in Trail Running magazine and have a monthly column in Running magazine, both dedicated to informing and inspiring runners.
Their next book, Family Adventures with the National Trust, is being published in the spring and to help inspire more families to get out and experience amazing adventures together.
Martin is a long distance walking expert based on the Jurassic Coast, and regularly takes part in long distance challenge walks - including the Dorset Doddle.
Martin runs his own small guiding company and takes visitors out onto the Jurassic Coast and talk to them about the Geology and fossils of the World Heritage Site. He also works as an ambassador for the UNESCO World Heritage site and promotes it's importance.
In his spare time, Martin likes to enjoy one of the unique features of the local coastline by going fossil hunting. In 2017, Martin plans to complete the training to become a Mountain Leader.
Martin Curtis – Image: @jurassiccoastguides/Instagram
Sarah Whiting (Craft Invaders)
The Craft Invaders family (with Sarah behind the lens!) – Image: craft invaders.co.uk
Sarah Whiting is passionate about both children and adults spending more time outside exploring, learning and getting creative.
It was this passion that led her to create the Craft Invaders blog with her family, where she shares family orientated craft tutorials (which have a strong focus on nature-based and recycled craft), recipes, foraging, wildlife, and their visits to UK wildlife and historic sites.
Nigel Vardy (aka Mr Frostbite) spent much of his childhood walking with his parents in the Peak District, and gained further inspiration at secondary school, where ‘Outdoor Pursuits’ were part of the curriculum. Taking part in a Raleigh International expedition to Chile turned that childhood inspiration into a true spirit of adventure.
Nigel began worldwide mountaineering and enjoys feeling the bite of cold air in his lungs. It hasn't all been plain sailing as in 1999, Nigel suffered severe frostbite on Mt McKinley, loosing his fingers and toes and earning him the nickname 'Mr Frostbite’. Rather than stop there, he has since undertaken numerous expeditions both in the British Isles and across the world. He adores his local Derbyshire hills and regularly walks out his front door to explore them.
He uses this passion to help inspire many thousands of youngsters through education and the DofE scheme, talking about the advantages of being outside and leading walks describing the history of mountaineering.
Dave Cornthwaite has been on the move for over ten years and make a living from adventure and encouraging people to get outside.
In 2012, Dave founded SayYesMore, an enterprise based on a philosophy of turning strangers into friends, breaking down fears and hurdles and enabling people of all ages to redesign their lives and jobs. With the first ever Yestival in October 2015 and the creation of the ever-growing YesTribe, Dave's passionate advocacy of adventure as personal development has contributed to hundreds of individuals heading off on their own journeys, big and small.
Shell Grayston started her blog, Get Out With The Kids back in 2011 to help inspire more people to get outside. Get Out With The Kid's motto is enjoying 'family time, one adventure at a time' and that is what they try to achieve as a family.
Shell says, 'We're just normal working parents trying to fit in as much outdoor time as we can' and for the Grayston family that includes trying different activities all year round – from hiking, camping, running, cycling, to geocaching and canoeing.
GOWTK have also done canoeing challenges for British Canoeing, and are currently undertaking a year-long challenge at the moment for the Camping and Caravanning Club, where they are writing, vlogging, and sharing their adventures.
"We love taking on a challenge as it's great motivation when you experience something new, with a fantastic feeling of achievement."
Jude Brosnan – Image: ispeakbike.blogspot.co.uk
Jude Brosnan considers herself a rare breed – the outdoorsy Londoner. Her main love is long distance, solo, unsupported cycling and her trips include John O'Groats to Land's End (JOGLE), London to Amsterdam, Brussels to Budapest. Jude also takes lots of micro adventures including the circumference of the Isle of Wight and the Bournemouth to Brighton ride, and started a blog to help more people enjoy it.
When she's not cycling solo, Jude takes visually impaired people who are interested in sport and cycling out on a tandem bicycle. She says 'I think we inspire each other'. She's also a big fan of wild swimming, and you'll often find her outside in Hampstead Ponds and the Serpentine Lido.
Emma's adventures in the outdoors started when she was young, with holidays in Scotland, the Lake District and Cornwall. The older she got, the bigger the adventures got. Emma went on to spend 4 months living in a hammock in the jungles of Belize and led youth expeditions to Nepal, Peru, Brazil and Slovenia before undertaking her the biggest challenge yet in 2015.
As part of the Coxless Crew, a team of 6 women Emma rowed across the Pacific Ocean for 257 days setting 2 new world records. Emma says 'the journey wasn't about the records, it wasn't even about the rowing. It was about what you can achieve when you work as part of a team, the lessons you can learn in the great outdoors and the privilege of being able to stop and stare and appreciate how magnificent nature is.'
At home, Emma works as the Operations Manager for True Adventure, a company who organise school expeditions to the developing world, where she organises UK based training weekends.
Annie Evans loves to write about the countryside . She loves to inspire others through her work as an outdoor educator, teaching folk to understand and respect the amazing wild spaces we have.
Annie loves to GetOutside in all different ways, from mountaineering to climbing and packrafting to remote travel by mountain bike, with mountain biking being her speciality.
She also loves sharing her interest in the environment, getting excited about lichens or rocks and the many birds and animals we have, and wants to educate people on the importance of looking after and using our landscape responsibly.
Scott describes himself as 'am an average down to earth man with an obsessive passion for the outdoors'. His favourite place to visit is the Lake District, and he regularly leads a walking group from his work (The Lake Buddies).
As well as hiking, Scott is a keen photographer and loves to share his images across his social media accounts and his blog. He is also a brand affiliate for Lake District clothing firm Ascendancy Apparel.
Addi had a rural upbringing in Greece, Spain, and Thailand, leaving a profound influence on her that grew into a curiosity and appreciation of the stunning UK countryside when she moved to Leeds in 2014 – an affinity she now tries to pass on to her 8yr old daughter, Athina.
Together as TeamAA, they love to take the time to enjoy the outdoors and all the things they value: sports, nature, animals, history and culture. Addi says 'As a parent I use the outdoors to teach my daughter the simple pleasures in life; how to be appreciative of little things like a hot drink, functional clothing and even a warm bed to sleep in and how to see beauty in everything that surrounds us'. In 2016, the duo won the Sean Conway Adventure Scholarship with their ‘Pirates of the Canal Adventure’.
In 2017 , the mother/daughter team are planning more adventures including walking the whole of the Pennine Way together from the Peak District to Scotland. They hope their fun stories will stimulate the imagination of others to explore the outdoors as part of their weekly routine.
The Meek Family have a rather unusual story as Kerry and Tim quit their jobs, sold their house and took their children, Amy and Ella, out of school to go on a family Ed-venture. Their aim? To educate themselves and experience more of the UK as they travelled and lived in a caravan.
Throughout 2016, the family climbed the height of Everest by hiking their way around Britain’s mountains.
Bear Grylls’ approved; the Meek Family are ambassadors of the 'green time over screen time' mantra and encourage families to ditch the television for the great outdoors and survival skills.
Mountaineer Jason loves to explore and you can regularly see the fruits of his adventures on his Instagram page.
Adventure runs through the blood of his veins. From an early age of building camps and rope swings across rivers to high altitude expeditions in the Himalayas and ice climbing in the Arctic Circle. So much is learnt in the outdoors from the importance of planning to the creation of community to share experiences. And so when, he found himself unhappy in his sales career, Jason gave it all up to move to Snowdonia and start his own mountaineering adventure company jrmountaineering.com.
Jason’s ethos is to deliver outstanding outdoor adventure experiences while promoting safety, education and fun. Above all, he says he’s in the business of making memories.
Phoebe Smith is a seasoned traveller, author and award-winning writer and editor of Wanderlust travel magazine.
Although Phoebe has travelled to many parts of the world, she still has a deep-rooted love for the United Kingdom and regularly writes about her explorations around the wildest parts of Britain.
She is author of seven outdoorsy books including Wilderness Weekends and Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper. As a wild camper, Phoebe regularly spends nights out under the stars with nothing more than her sleeping bag and has a unique view to share of Britain’s most loved places.
Lucy Atkins (Blonde One) and Fi Darby
(Blonde Two) would describe themselves as ‘very ordinary women’ but in reality
as well as holding down day jobs, Lucy is a teacher at Trinity School in
Teignmouth and Fi is a Freelance Copywriter, their passion for the outdoors and
particularly Dartmoor takes them regularly into situations that are beyond the
norm for most women of their age.
The Two Blondes met through their shared love of expedition work with young people. Their first meeting was when Lucy was training Fi’s son Olly for Dartmoor’s Ten Tors Challenge and Olly ‘volunteered’ his mum for camp bacon sandwich duties. Soon after Fi and Lucy found themselves working at the same school in Devon and training youngsters together for both the Ten Tors Challenge and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. When asked about this Fi said, ‘February camps on Dartmoor weren’t uncommon and we soon realised as the only two female leaders that sharing a tent was going to be much warmer (and more fun) than sleeping alone.’ Their friendship was cemented through this expedition work, they decided to share their adventures with the world and Two Blondes Walking was born.
Lucy and Fi have been writing their daily outdoor blog Two Blondes Walking since 2012 and their tales about fresh air adventures, camping mishaps and humorous outdoor incidents have led to a loyal following.
Mud and Routes began life as the Walk Eryi blog in 2004 by co-founder, Dave Roberts, with the aim of providing walking enthusiasts with new routes that were off the beaten track and could show the beauty of his native Snowdonia. Walk Eryri has since evolved into Mud and Routes; a hub for a plethora of routes for all areas of Great Britain and all the team continue to passionately blog about their adventures.
Dave has been exploring the hills for over 30 years, and is also a qualified mountain leader.
Dave from Mud and Routes – Image: @mudandroutes/Instagram
Lizzie Carr – Image: lizzieoutside.co.uk
Lizzie Carr returns as a GetOutside champion for 2017, after a 2016 that was mostly packed full of paddle-boarding, (you may even have seen her on The One Show).
Following her challenge last year, where she highlighted the problem with plastic pollution in England's waterways, Lizzie launched the nationwide environmental campaigning for #PlasticPatrol. This year, Lizzie plans to take part in her first ultra marathon – 84 miles along the length of Hadrian's Wall.
Lizzie is determined to show the people of Britain that you can have fantastic, life-changing adventures without having to go too far from your house or visit any other countries through her blog.
Mary-Ann Ochota is a TV presenter and writer who is very used to getting outside for her work. Her qualifications in Archaeology and Anthropology have led to her involvement in previous television projects including Raised Wild for Animal Planet and Britain’s Secret Treasures for ITV.
In 2015, Mary-Ann combined her enthusiasm for adventuring and passion for educating others in a series of films about hill walking for the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).
Published in 2016, Mary-Ann’s book, Hidden Histories, teaches you all about the interesting archaeology and related history that you can find in Britain.
Mary-Ann is often joined on her trips, runs and explorations by Harpo, her (very cute) four-legged furry companion – who has also found himself having unexpected adventures of his own!
Last year, David Wilson created his own ‘Walk in the Park’ Challenge with Northumberland National Park, aimed at helping more people to GetOutside and connect with nature.
The overwhelming success of the challenge prompted David to quit his job in the financial services and start Experience Northumberland. Experience Northumberland aims to deliver experiences across the county, mostly outside, and ranging from exciting and inspiring guided walks and tours to tailored challenges for local charities and groups.
His next challenge in 2017 will bring a whole host of disciplines; walking, running, cycling and swimming (maybe swimming) when he take on a lap of Northumberland.
Manchester based Christian James currently runs 2 YouTube channels, his own personal account 'Wrong Direction Vlog', where he tries to motivate and help others to achieve their goals, and The Ultimate Navigation School 'Ultimate Nav' channel.
Christian recently completed the 4 Inns Challenge in 12 hours and 27 minutes with his dad Paul. Paul, along with Lyle Brotherton (Author of the Ultimate Navigation Manual), are the owners and founders of The Ultimate Navigation School.
Christian James – Image:@wrongdirectionvlog/Instagram
For Gus Mckechnie getting outdoors is literally life changing. Born with cerebral palsy an adventurous spirit has meant he has stayed up right and in control of his disability.
Gus has set two world records on the rowing machine, completed 11 marathons, trekked round part of Mount Blanc and has completed so far over 98,000 miles on a stationary bike on board the Red Funnel ferries. Sometimes his adventures have taken a different twist in 2007 Gus rowed around the Isle of Wight’s roads on a rowing machine on wheels.
Gus wants to inspire more people to get active including able bodied and disabled whilst demonstrating its benefits for mental health. He is planning lots of micro adventures as well as taking part in the 70.3 Weymouth Ironman Tri and trekking Borneo later this year.