TracksAndTrails’s latest hiking interview was sent to Matthew Swaine, the editor of Trail Magazine and website titled Live For The Outdoors. While every interview thus far has provided me helpful new outdoor information or information that reinforces a current practice, it is a real pleasure to read and visualize the hiking trails of lands from afar as mentioned in Matthew’s interview. The Trail Magazine promises to bring the spirit of Adventure to your home, so does the following interview!
Thank you Matthew for providing outdoor enthusiasts with an educational resource and great ideas for a dream trip to Europe!
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I got my introduction to walking through a group at school. It was our chance to escape the classroom, get away from weekends under parental supervision and push ourselves. At the age of 14 we were navigating by ourselves across Dartmoor in the south of England, sleeping under canvas, cooking up outdoors and learning how to rely on ourselves and each other.
What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?
I’ve done bits of walking in the Himalaya, the Swiss Alps, Italy, Central America and Spain but there’s nothing that beats Scotland for me. The mountains might not match other countries in terms of height but they are just magnificent, varied and packed with really quality lines to the tops. There’s a hobby in the UK called Munro-bagging, which involves climbing all the mountains in Scotland over 3000ft. There are 283 of them and they are spread across the Scottish Highlands. Anyone visiting Scotland should start by visiting our website and discovering a bit about the Munros.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
A couple of winters ago I tackled the Aonach Eagach, a long ridge of pretty tough winter mountaineering. I was led by British mountaineer Alan Hinkes who was the first Brit to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000m peaks. It was a gnarly day, long technical and very tough at the end trying to find our way off. You can see the video here.
Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
As the editor of Trail magazine I tend to do a lot of my features in the company of first class mountain experts and they tend to take responsibility for navigation, so I’m probably less skilled as a navigator than I was aged 14! For one feature I was blindfolded, driven over 180miles and dropped in the middle of no where and then asked to navigate north without a compass for two days. It was a brilliant way to tune into using the sun, foliage growth and wind direction to navigate. Quite by accident I hit my target almost dead on… It was a complete fluke! Take a look at the video below to see how to navigate using your watch.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
My favourite was meeting a seal in a cave off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales, UK. It was a large male and I was swimming around a headland unaware it was in the cave. It swam underneath me, and appeared 10m away blowing salt water out of its nostrils. We don’t have a lot of “charismatic mega fauna” in our country but seeing a seal so close up and being in its environment was simply magical.
If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
We do a lot of multi-day hikes for the magazine and I am learning to carry less, wear lighter shoes, ditch more of the luxuries that never get used. Lighter is definitely easier but I am lucky because I get a lot of free gear to test so price really isn’t an issue. If I was buying my own kit I’d be less keen on spending lots of money on lightweight kit and much keener on finding low cost, DIY ways of putting kit together. Here’s the link for a video and the plans for my rucksack
What is your favourite outdoor website?
Apart from our own website www.lfto.com I really likehttp://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html/
At the start of this year I gave myself two weeks to construct my own waterproof, rucksack, tarp, fleece and hat. It was a crash course in sewing but fantastically liberating. I really believe you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the outdoors and I think learning to make your own kit is really satisfying way of buying kit you don’t really need.
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Too many to name
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