To kick off our Women In The Outdoors series, we chatted with Hannah Campbell AKA The Feral Lady. We wanted to find out more about her journey, from starting her blog to her best day in the outdoors and building confidence within a male-dominated industry.
Hey, tell us a little bit about yourself and the Feral Lady?Well, I'm 25 years old, I live in the middle of the Brecon Beacons, I work for a badass company called Trekitt and I fill all of my spare time by climbing, hiking and running the mountains that surround me. I have Cystic Fibrosis (I gotta get that out there), but I don't talk about it as often as people expect me to. I know other 'social media influencers' that have made their Cystic Fibrosis part of their business but that's never something I intend to do. For now, I am fit, healthy and enjoying this planet - not because I am 'fighting' a disease - but because, well... why would you not? The Feral Lady is my blog! It's a hub where I can share stories about cool women I've met, cool mountains I've climbed and the cool kit I get to try - and other funnies in between too! I've been writing this blog for a while and I love it. It's already connected me with some amazing women all looking to support each other - which I think is pure magic.
How did you first get into the outdoors? Was it something you’ve always known or something you’ve found as you’ve grown older?So I grew up in Africa for the first 15 years of my life so ALL of my time outside of school was spent outside. I would come home, kick off my shoes and my clothes and go climb up trees - my feet were tough as old leather and my hair usually wouldn't get brushed for a few days, but I loved it! When I moved to the UK I went through the standard 'grumpy teenage years' and then rediscovered my love for the outdoors when I was about 21 - I went to go work in Zambia, hosting at a lodge in the middle of the Luangwa National Park and then a year later I went to Cape Town to work for a paragliding company (I got my paragliding license at that time too) - I'd been gymming and crossfitting for nearly a year at that point and getting outdoors actually gave all of those hours in the gym a purpose. I haven't really looked back since.
We love the blog and its broad topics - what made you decide to start sharing your experiences?Well, I wrote a series of blogs for Trekitt after Jamie (my partner) and I completed the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path last June; my boss loved them and I just... kept writing. They aren't all directly relevant to Trekitt so I decide to create my own website where I could put out whatever I wanted. It's been going for just over six months now and I've built up some pretty decent content ranging from interviews with badass women to kit reviews, to travel blogs and everything in between. As I'm sure you know, the outdoor industry is very male dominated - so I want my blog to be a place where women get honest advice and a touch of motivation to get outside too.
What advice would you give someone who wants try and get involved in outdoor sports or even just wants to spend a bit more of their time exploring nature?It sounds corny as hell - but just do it. There are wonderful groups on Facebook (Like "Love her Wild" and "Women who Hike"); you can put out public posts asking fellow women to meet up and walk - that's one of the best places to start. Otherwise, join a club! Ramblers, climbing clubs, Nordic walking groups, wild swimming clubs - they are everywhere and are really supportive people. Another good move is to pop into your nearest outdoor shop and ask for some advice on kit. If you're thinking about hill walking then things like good boots and a bombproof waterproof jacket are a must - even if you're not in the market to buy anything 'just yet' it's always good to go in and have a chat and see what the options are.
Have you ever experienced confidence issues when trying something new, how did you overcome this?Oh my goodness, of course! Every time I try something new I get butterflies - they range from "This is a little outta my comfort zone" to "what the hell are you doing?!". It's totally normal to feel like that. If I'm trying something new that involves areas of safety (like climbing or paragliding) then I'll do a course - the more I know the better I feel; I never wanna be 'that guy' that puts people at risk. Then the rest just comes with practice.
You seem to always be on the move, whether it be climbing, hiking or training in the gym, how do you keep yourself motivated?This is an interesting question and one I hear quite a lot; people quite often expect me to say "I'm doing it for my health!" but actually, the health benefits are just a cool byproduct - Quite simply the outdoors keeps me motivated. I LOVE mountains, the ocean, forests, glaciers, cliff faces and I am amazed that I have this incredible vehicle (my body) that allows me to witness them all - all I have to do is train and keep relatively strong and that allows me to get the most enjoyment out of our natural wonders. So why would I not?
Describe your best day in the outdoors?My dog, my human, a decent amount of snacks and LOTS of sunshine; the rest doesn't matter so much - I'm as happy in the waves as I am in the mountains. Unless you mean one day in particular? A few come to mind but my favourite day was actually in Sardinia a couple of years ago. I'd gone on a 10-day climbing holiday with a friend of mine and we'd been living out the back of the car for a few days. My skin had started to brown and my hairs were salty from washing in the sea every day. One day, in particular, we woke up exceptionally early because the early morning sun for the first time was completely uninterrupted by any cloud cover. We took a walk into the town that we'd parked just outside of and found this tiny bar/cafe that served the most incredible pastries - so we stuffed our faces and washed it all down with a rich Italian coffee whilst we sat in the sunshine. We then bought some fresh bread and cheese and proceeded to climb all day. We finished off the day with a long swim, handstands in the sand and pasta cooked on the jetboil! It was utter bliss.
Recently there has been more focus on women and the outdoors, campaigns such as ‘This Girl Can’ for instance, what your thoughts on this? Are there any initiatives you think people should know about?Anything that empowers women for me is a massive plus - the 'This Girl Can' campaign is one of my favourites - the campaign is very clever, funny and their videos are very well put together. I adore seeing ALL women - skinny, curvy, black, asian, white, buzzcuts, dreadlocks, wobbly bums, covered in mud, dancing, smiling, laughing, in no makeup or in lots of makeup - every physical body is different and THAT in itself is something we should not only accept, but damn celebrate! Every woman is her own form of unique, fine art. I'm a big pusher of racial diversity as well and gender diversity so, even though I'm on the wrong side of the planet, I love following events like "Colour the crag", who aim to celebrate diversity in rock climbing.
Final question, as you also work in the outdoors industry - do you think opportunities for women within the industry are increasing?Yes and no - I think brands are under pressure to increase their diversity which has increased interest in marketing to women, talking to more female athletes and generally, all working on getting our ladies out there more (and being treated like competent mountain enthusiasts). However, through my blog, social media and through conversations with other women in the industry we still hear comments like "So what? Why should we try and get more women into the outdoor industry?" "It's cute, but in a few years you'll be having kids and stuck in the house anyway" and the fact that I chase big career goals, fitness goals and outdoor sports goals is just 'political correctness gone mad'. It truly breaks my heart because I train and I teach myself to be the savviest I can be - plus, I'm always the one that isn't afraid to get naked and wash off in a cold river, I'll have the tent set up before everyone else and I'll always be the one who gets the fire going. So yes, I think opportunities are increasing but no I do not think we are 'there' yet. Sorry for the rant - I get a bit fired up over this kind of topic haha!
You can find Hannah on Instagram or visit her blog The Feral Lady
If you want to get involved in our Women In The Outdoors series get in touch!