Stephanie Boon hiking on the South West Coast Smiling at the camera.

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Fears laid bear: a solo wild camp on the Cotswold Way. A small one-person tent is pitched with a view of the Cotswold hills

Fears Laid Bare: Hiking Shit That Scares Me Every Day

Hi, I’m glad you’re here! I’m a bit anxious about this article tbh because it’s about my fears laid bare. It’s a pretty transparent description of my personal finances. But more importantly,

It’s about how spending my emergency fund on hiking is pushing me well and truly out of my comfort zone.

I hope you find it, I don’t know, frank, honest? We never really talk about money, especially in a personal context, so this feels scary! Am I revealing too much? Probably. Do you need to know this? Probably not. But I need to be honest about what scares me, especially when I advocate stepping out of your comfort zone yourself. So here goes, my fears laid bare.

Fear And Safety When I’m Solo Hiking

Solo hiking, especially wild camping, is something people are keen to ask me about when say I’m off somewhere. Questions about fear and safety, that’s what they really want to know about. Honestly though, I don’t feel scared, not really. It’s true there’s always a frisson of anxiety on the first night, a worry about where I’ll pitch up. But that’s ok, it just means I don’t know what the trail has to offer yet. It’s like anything new really and it can take a day or two to feel settled. I just prepare myself as best I can before I leave and that means having a list of campsites along the way. Just in case.

Nevertheless, this summer has been a different kettle of fish and I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way:

Nothing has prepared me for the feelings of free-fall and major anxiety I’ve had about booking trips away to hike 3 national trails.

But it’s got nothing to do with the actual hiking. No, this anxiety is about spending my very meagre savings to do it.

Hiking on the South Downs Way. Stephanie Boon with a large rucksack on her back standing on a chalk path.

My first national trail hike of the year was on the South Downs Way

 

Lack Of Money, That’s What Really Scares Me

That’s My Fears Laid Bare Right There

As you probably know I have frequent long bouts of depression, which means I haven’t had a regular income for a long time. And that means there’s been little opportunity to save. (There’s more on my about page if you didn’t know.) Financially, I live pretty much day-to-day and what I have pays the bills and not a great deal more. But I’m debt-free, unlike a lot of people in my position, and I’m glad of that. But

Here’s the problem with living hand to mouth: having a very small amount of savings can make you panic.

What if the washing machine breaks down? What if the landlord gives us notice? What if, what if, what if… Basically, what if I have to spend it, what then?

But I haven’t touched my emergency fund for two years (neither in nor out). And in this climate, unless you’ve got thousands tucked away, it’s not growing. In fact, it’s worth over £100 less in that short time (inflation). Regardless of minor emergencies (things like said washing machine, potential vet bills, etc), I’ve been reluctant to spend anything because I’m keen to have some financial independence, despite illness.

Finding Financial Independence

I recently finished a business course, exploring ideas for flexible self-employment (through this website, actually), but I know from experience that’s not easy without some financial security, a way of paying the bills for a good 6 months or more. (I ran a business for 14 years some time ago, so I know!) But the emergency fund is nowhere near big enough for that. I’m not giving up on the idea though, there are ways and means after all. So

I decided to invest in a potential business in a totally different way: by investing in myself.

Being self-employed is about being me after all, but investing in myself isn’t something I’ve ever found easy. (I don’t think I’m alone in that though, maybe you can relate.)

Making It Happen

 

Stephanie Boon, standing on the national trail roundel set into the pavement at the start of the Cotswold Way

Investing in myself: hiking the Cotswold Way, July 2021

My idea revolves around hiking, surprise, surprise! It’s about sharing what I’ve learned so that you can find a way to take a step out of your comfort zone too. But maybe that’s not why you’re here and you just want to get out there and explore the UK like me. I hope my guides will inspire you to do that too, from all the planning to exactly how much a hike cost me. Discover all my 2021 hiking guides on my Latest Adventures page and each and every article on National Trails right here!

Then, of course, there are the other women!

Other women hikers from around the UK, doing their thing in their own way – how inspiring are they? (Very!) How fantastic would it be then to have a resource like that, somewhere full of inspiring stories from everyday hikers from all around the UK?  And how incredible would it be to have it all for free? (The resource is underway btw. Have a look at the Women Afoot features and see what you think.)

But how can I make that happen if I don’t ‘walk the talk’ and get out there and do it myself? How can I do it if I don’t invest in myself, don’t step out of my own comfort zone? After all,

Adventures don’t just happen, you have to believe in yourself (and I believe in you), commit to them – and sometimes that means committing some money too.

Close Your Eyes And Jump Feet First

So yes, I’m doing something that hasn’t scared the crap out of me so much in years: I’m investing my emergency fund in myself.

I’m updating some of my camping gear, little by little, and I’m spending what seems like an absolute bloody fortune on train fares!

My backpacking tent is pitched beside a rock wall (it's actually a crag) and my open rucksack and walking poles are leaning up against it.

Wild camping on Offa’s Dyke Path. Replacing my 18-year-old backpacking kit is a costly business! Step by step is the way ahead and I managed to lighten the load by investing in a new sleeping mat and walking poles this year.

I feel like I’m in a permanent state of anxiety, but I’ve just closed my eyes, committed to it, and jumped. What else can I do?

Thanks for reading.

Happy hiking!

Stephie x

Update, October 2021

I’ve discovered a lovely way you can support me to reach my goals to make 10 Mile Hike the most inspiring place it can be! Whether you’re interested in my story, are looking for guides to plan your own walks and backpacking trips, or want to help me to build an amazing library of other women’s stories, all you have to do is buy me a coffee!

A cup of coffee costs just £3 and it’ll set me on my way to buy train tickets to other trails, or fuel me when I’m sat in coffee shops writing for 10 Mile Hike. Hit the button below and head on over to my Ko-fi page – it’s like a mini-blog where I share bits and pieces with you that you won’t find anywhere else. And of course, you can buy me a coffee right there!

If you don’t fancy sharing a coffee, no worries – 10 Mile Hike is for everyone and you can help it grow just by clicking the like or share button. Thanks for your support, it means a lot x

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Caroline
    14 August, 2021

    Fantastic read Steph, and you are a real inspiration to me…keep going xx

    reply
  • 11 August, 2021

    You’re brave, inspiring and massively creative, and what a wonderful post xx

    reply

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