#THISISMYADVENTURE - New Perspectives with Emily Hutton
In our National Get Outside Day special we continue along our voyage of discovery with all things new. Catching up with Emily Hutton to talk Scotland, winter and the positive impact paddle boarding has had on her adventures.
Being born and raised in Scotland Emily was introduced to adventure from a young age. Her mum had always been a keen outdoor enthusiast and would take Emily and her three siblings to the highlands of Scotland at any opportunity for outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, wild camping and mountain biking.
Now 23, and studying photography in Stirling, Emily relives these adventures as often as she can in between uni and work, incorporating this outdoor lifestyle into her photography as much as possible, inspiring others to get out into the wilderness, go beyond their comfort zone and try something new! She’s under no illusions about how lucky she is to be located in Scotland, ‘it’s such an incredible country with stunning landscapes and so many hidden gems for people to discover. It’s the perfect place to be for anyone who enjoys exploring the outdoors’.
After being introduced to paddle boarding a couple of years ago, Emily took to it quickly and finding that it wasn’t just a new way to discover the landscape but also helped her get over her fear of water too; ‘I have always had a fear of water and the ocean but paddle boarding has helped me to build my confidence and face my fears’.
Since then paddle boarding has boomed in popularity, allowing easy accessibility to a completely different perspective on the landscape.
‘Due to their compact size and shoulder strapped drybags you could comfortably attempt something more adventurous and combine it with a small hike if you aim to paddle somewhere a bit more off road. I have done this a few times to get to some more remote areas that the car can’t reach – it definitely tests your fitness and upper body strength, but the outcome is always worth it’.
Was it easy at first or did it take some getting used to?
‘It didn’t take too long for me to master SUP; I think the main thing is to try get out of your own head and not over think things like falling in and just trust your balance. I have taken a few people out on my boards who haven’t done any water sports at all before and they can get to grips with it quite quickly. If you don’t rush into it and take it in small steps starting off by kneeling, building up your confidence to stand and find your balance you will get to grips with it in no time. If you plan on getting into the sport, there are plenty places that offer board hires and instructors. Going along with some friends will make for a great day out and will open up a world of opportunity for you. It’s a great way to test your abilities and determination. When you master it you get a sense of achievement and joy – it’s one of my favourite things to witness when taking people out on the water’.
Winter’s on it’s way, would you still recommend giving it a go?
‘Coming into the colder seasons this can put people off doing certain activities, however I think it can offer you a completely different experience. All it takes is being more prepared; packing a few more thermals, gloves, woolly hats, a bit of determination and checking the weather forecast in advance. When I go out on the water in winter, I will always have a buddy with me and really wouldn’t recommend going out alone. When it comes to layering up, I’d be sure to wear a thermal rash vest under my wetsuit and some neoprene booties to keep some heat in. A winter wetsuit would be a good investment and can make all the difference. The thickest wetsuit I own is only 2mm which isn’t warm enough for those Scottish winters so I am thinking ahead this year and will be acting on my own advice and getting something a bit thicker! This isn’t always necessary depending on how flat the water is and how confident you are on your board; however I like to try and keep cosy at all times. Depending on the weather (and if I’m in the right mood to tolerate the elements) I would stay out on the water for an hour or two. If the cold does get to me it’s nice to get out even just for a wee while. I make sure I’m not too far away from somewhere warm and dry when heading out to paddle in the cold, even if it’s just having your car nearby, and always make sure you have dry clothes to change into in case you do get wet. On that note – paddling too far from shore in the winter is a big no-no. Despite the cold, there is nothing more soothing than being out on the still, glassy water surrounded by snowy mountains. That feeling will definitely have you hooked. I’m a sucker for places like Glen Coe and Glen Etive in the winter, they are my go-to locations. I still have lots of places to explore and I am hoping to go back to Skye as it is one of the most beautiful places in the winter seasons’.
A lot of people have probably seen SUP in some form now, but can you tell us more about the lesser known SUP surfing?
‘SUP surfing is big fun! It’s something I’ve only started to do recently and definitely something I want to do more of. There is quite a big difference between SUP surfing and regular surfing. With a SUP you can propel yourself through the water using your paddle and don’t necessarily have to master the typical surf stance. I even tried ditching the paddle to attempt some prone surfing which turned out surprisingly well. My smaller board works better for this as it is narrower and offers faster, easier manoeuvrability. Boards come with an ankle leash which tend to be overlooked if you are sticking to calm water. When it comes to the ocean though this is something you should definitely be wearing. The Isle of Tiree in Scotland, which I visited this summer, has some of the best surf spots in the UK. It was the first time I had tried surfing with a SUP and was one of the best experiences I’ve had yet. As it is coming into the autumnal season this is the best time to catch waves, so a visit back is definitely needed soon. I am absolutely no pro when it comes to surfing but it is great fun even if you do make a fool of yourself constantly falling off your board. It is such a friendly community and people will always be willing to offer advice’.
So what’s next for Emily..
Paddling her way around the North Coast 500 in Scotland is a big target. Along with hiking more often, mastering surfing, snowboarding lessons and paddle boarding in Croatia, Emily has an action packed future ahead! You can follow her on her Instagram at @emilyclairehutton and view more of her amazing photography on her website here.