Two Blondes Walking

Fi Darby and Lucy Atkins, otherwise known as as the "Two Blondes Walking" tell about what inspires them to get active outdoors and how others can get involved.

Two Blondes Walking - Fi and Lucy, have a blog ‘two blondes walking’ and regularly get outdoors themselves and try to get others outdoors too.

Two Blondes ()

Lucy (Blonde 1) and Fi (Blonde 2)  met after Lucy trained Fi's son (Olly) for Dartmoor’s Ten Tors Challenge. At the same time, they both completed the Walking Group Leader qualifications and have led Ten Tors and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions ever since.

Lucy and Fi are Ordnance Survey ‘Get Outside’ champions and have recently started running ‘Navigation for Beginners’ workshops in conjunction with Dartmoor National Park, including one very successful ‘Ladies Only’ session. Earlier this year they invited the mums of some of the young people involved to come on a ‘Bronze Style’ Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) expedition as part of our own Diamond Challenge (DofE’s 60th Anniversary challenge to its leaders).

The write a daily blog about their experiences and have gathered quite a following. They have also written three children’s books (‘The Dartmoor Christmas Tree’, ‘Dart the River’, and ‘The Non-Story of Ignatius Bowerman’)  all of which have been designed to encourage parents and children to get out on the hills.

  1. What inspired / motivated you to first take up hill walking?

Lucy- B1: I was inspired to begin leading on Dartmoor by another female teacher and inspired to lead a World Challenge expedition by another female leader, who both taught me many of the skills that I now have, and gave me the confidence.

Fi-B2: A school geography field trip to the Llanrug (now Arete) Outdoor Education Centre . I fell in love with soaking wet walks and drying rooms there. My son completed the Ten Tors Challenge and I was inspired to lead from that and from my voluntary work as a Scout leader.

  1. Was there a barrier that first stopped you hill walking?

B1: My initial lack of knowledge and confidence was a barrier. Plus at my secondary school, the Ten Tors Challenge was only for ‘naughty boys’!

B2: I loved walking the Malvern Hills as a child but didn’t join in with the right groups at secondary school to continue as a teenager. I also thought that such pursuits were ‘just for boys’. My barriers in later life include a broken ankle and an airlift from the middle of Dartmoor and arthritis in my knees (neither has stopped me yet!)

  1. What would your advice be to anyone who is considering trying hill walking?

B1: Get out there with other people who know what they are doing and learn from them.

B2: Go with someone experienced who already loves it. Their enthusiasm will be infectious and you will learn how to be safe in the hills.

  1. What is your one piece of essential equipment / kit you can't live without?

B1: Map and compass are not just essential but enjoyable and lead to many challenges and adventures.

B2: A map of the area in which I am walking. It is far more fun exploring if you have some idea of what you are looking for and preferably a compass too. Together they can help get you out of trouble.'

  1. How do you feel hill-walking has helped your mental well-being? Has it helped you to develop new friendships?

B1: I Feel 'at peace' during a long walk. It lets me forget what's going on in the real world. A two-week expedition allows me to re-evaluate what's important in life. Very good friendships have developed that survive the test of time. Walking has opened many doors in my personal and professional life.

B2: Hill-walking always makes me feel more positive about life. It gives me a chance to think about issues clearly and to switch-off from problems. During one particularly unhappy time in my life, I went walking on Dartmoor most days, and it made a big difference. I have met some amazing people and made some life-time friends through hill-walking. Walkers are in general a friendly and approachable bunch.

  1. Are there any good blogs or social media handles to follow for more information on where to hill walking?

B1 & B2: We write a daily blog Two Blondes Walking about hill-walking and related pursuits including: leading groups, the Ten Tors Challenge, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, navigation skills and wild camping. Facebook: Two Blondes Walking. Twitter: @BlondesTwo

Lucy and Fi were talking to the Alliance as part of #WomenOutdoors Week.