What are you afraid of?
Whatever you’re afraid of, it’s time to face it. Have you ever achieved something you thought was impossible? Think about it, how long did it take you to learn to walk? How long did it take you to ride a bike? Or roller skate without falling and getting gravel under the skin of your hands? But was it worth it?
Let’s look at some of the things you could be excited about, instead of sitting there wishing you had more to life.
If you’re afraid of heights, speed, and failure… this is the one for you.
As well as the pure adrenaline you experience from becoming a mountain dolphin on the slopes, the social scene in the snow is something else. Most of the time it’ll be blue skies and as you’re already wrapped up against the cold, partying outside just works. Whether you choose skiing or snowboarding, the mountain air is the best cure for a hangover!
If it’s the cost of a snow holiday that puts you off, don’t be afraid of cheaper resorts like Bansko and Borovets in Bulgaria. You can easily get a week for under £400. Like a lot of European resort countries, Bulgaria gets a big dump in either the second or third week of March so take advantage of the low end of season prices. If you can afford better, make sure you head straight over to Canada for some time in Banff or Jasper where the slopes are never-ending just like the parties.
You could visit any of the Scottish resorts to learn but if you want to be ready before the season starts grab some lessons at any of the below. Just prepare for falls, failures, and hanging off button lifts crying into your goggles. See that bit as a right of passage, you’ll get past it.
If you’re afraid of water, the cold, and the law… this is the one for you.
Wild Swimming is our privilege as human beings and I believe we have as much right to it as breathing the air. Yet, we’re afraid that someone will come rushing along to tell us to get out of the water! The Outdoor Swimming Society tells us that “In Scotland, swimmers have a clear right to swim which goes alongside their right to roam. This means you can swim freely in open spaces. The law about swimming outdoors is unclear in England and Wales. Until the law is clarified, as long as you are not trespassing, then you can swim in most public places and open spaces.”
So can you swim wild? Yes. You can swim in rivers and lakes as long as you don’t have to trespass on someone else’s land to get there. Watch out for reservoirs owned by water companies, they’re not there for you to swim in, but they do often allow it. I always look out for a ‘no swimming’ sign, normally there if it’s privately owned (then don’t swim) or it’s there for your safety. If it’s for safety, as a beginner, please stay clear and find somewhere safer.
If you’re still unsure about where you can do wild swimming, find a quiet bit of water (not in the middle of the local park!) and just do it. It’s not easy to find ‘swim spots’ online because people like to keep them to themselves. I found a little bank on the river near where I live that looked like an easy starting point so I just went for it. After a couple of months, I discovered more and more people jumping in from that very spot. Just go for it, take it slow, and make sure you’re safe… but just do it!
Get excited about it and start your journey by following as many wild swimmers on Instagram as you can. They all tend to offer safety advice to beginners and sometimes they give away the location of a safe spot to swim. Here are a few to start you off: Swimthejewels, Wildswimwomen, Suzannaswims, Theoutdoorswimmingsociety, Weswimwild, and Wildwelshswimmer.
If you’re afraid of heights, falling, and your own athletic ability… this is the one for you.
Remember when everyone started doing pole because it basically made you toned all over? Well that’s what climbing is like! You’re literally pulling yourself up and pushing up from your feet, which means your arms, back, abs, and butt are getting a work out.
You don’t need to worry about the height, in a bouldering centre the walls aren’t that high and if you fall you land on a soft surface. Climbing (indoors or outdoors) is where they strap on a rope and shit gets serious. Either way, you need to get over it and do it.
In terms of getting started, it’s one of those activities where you’ll need a pal at first. So ask around and see if anyone goes or has been before, if not just call the centre and ask for an intro lesson. Each ‘route’ up is colour coded, so you just need to be made familiar with the colours you should be aiming for with your hands and feet. Plus they can teach you the etiquette and some techniques.
The good thing about climbing is that everyone had to start somewhere. People won’t look at you and think ‘Wow, they’re really bad at this’. They’re more likely to think you’re just like them, and they may even offer you some tips. A climbing wall is a really friendly place, you’ll see groups of people cheering each other on and so you can be as social or as solo as you want.
There are loads all over the UK, if you still feel nervous, just give them a call and say that to them. You will not be judged, if anything, they’ll be impressed that you’re brave enough to face your fears.
If you’re afraid of water, falling, and not being in control… this is the one for you.
Dear reader, for me, this is the one that got away. I will forever be pissed off at myself for my own negativity with surfing.
Take heed and learn from my mistake. The first time you ever get on a board, make sure you are with a professional and that you are there for a lesson. That professional will know not to head straight into hurricane Bertha (you can tell I’m very bitter about my first surfing experience), and they can not only offer you the skills knowledge to do it but they will help you adjust as you go on.
So yes, I’m still afraid of falling off my board and being swept up under the sea, but I need to face my fear and try again. Imagine the feeling of being carried along by the waves, knowing that you look like the coolest person on the beach, and having worked out that whole time without realising. It’s the sunshine skin, the salty hair, and that feeling of working with nature that attracts me, so as soon as I can I will try again. Being a snowboarder I thought I’d be a natural. Idiot.
Most beach towns in the UK will have surfing lessons available from anywhere in Cornwall and up to Scarborough in England, Dunbar and St Andrews in Scotland, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia (Adventure Parc!) in Wales, and plenty of places in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
So, what are you going to do first. Be brave, just do it, and tag us in your adventures along the way.