I joined ‘She Who Dares‘ on the cusp of my fortieth birthday. A women’s outdoor pursuit group, the only one of its kind in the UK, made up of inspirational, friendly and adventure loving females. I was never a big fan of sports at school, so this was a new challenge for me. My first session was high ropes in a local outdoor pursuits centre, my second, kayaking. It was January, the river was frozen, and we had to break the ice to slide the boats in. Many years later this group has kept me going with their camaraderie and challenges. I’ve tried everything forms: Laser Mayhem to Land Yachting, Archery to abseiling, surfing to synchronised swimming, gliding to golf, white water rafting to walking, caving through cycling, baking to boats, and much more. I’ve tried things I would never have had the courage to attempt before, supported by these ordinary women and our extraordinary pastimes. My husband thinks we are a secret division of the SAS.
The group began in a local outdoors centre, over thirty years ago, when most of the women had children young enough to put in the creche. We now have a clutch of grandmothers in our midst, and are the ‘sandwich’ generation, caring for offspring, partners and parents, while holding down a job or two. Yet every Wednesday morning we make time to get together for adventure and challenge, there’s no age barrier to having a go, although where I used to shower and change for work, now I go home for a lie-down!
It’s a group that’s grown close friendships, you need to trust someone who’s belaying you off a cliff edge and supported each other through difficult times. Mostly it’s about joining in, having fun and playing again; Last week we were tubing down a dry ski slope and catching our breath after laser mayhem. Once a year we have a trip away in the UK. As the years pass, this has softened from climbing to walking, with tea and cake as a priority stop, but we’ll still have a go at the more daring activities. Several of the group have gone on to be kayak lifeguards or paraglided over Nepal. It’s inspired me to go take up outdoor swimming, and travel to new places abroad, it’s widened my horizons and made me more daring.