Newsletter Sept 2020

Exciting Developments for Element
Amid the constantly ‘shifting sands’ of our world at the moment, there are exciting times ahead for Element, with many new courses and events coming in 2021 – and somebody new joining me at the helm of the business.

It’s been lovely watching how things have emerged over the past three years and evaluating where I want the business to go, what I’ve enjoyed doing and what I, and I hope you, want more of.

When I finally came up with the name Element three years ago I wanted to create courses and experiences that were authentic, connected to nature, nicely challenging and empowering through real experience. The longer I carry on, the more I feel that connecting with nature lies at the root of what’s important. Nature is no longer the preserve of outliers and is now becoming mainstream for our physical and intellectual health, our sense of confidence and self-worth in a world that should no longer be based on consumerism. ‘Wildlife populations are in free-fall, driven by human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture,’ says recent comprehensive research. We urgently need to change our perspective.

I met Mike when he moved to the heart of the Black Mountains from central London a year ago to write a new book. He joined our COVID ‘bubble’ during the lockdown and we did much cycling and chatting together, which has kept us both sane. He loves the Black Mountains so much he has decided to stay.

Mike is an award-winning author and Guardian and Financial Times travel journalist, whose assignments in almost 100 countries have included diving with killer whales, tracking down snow leopards in the Himalayas, living with Africa’s last hunter-gatherers and camping on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal in February. Mike created and taught travel-writing weekends as part of the Guardian’s Masterclass programme and also for the University of East Anglia and the London School of Journalism.

Passionate about nature and cycling and hiking – his last two books described his 5,000-mile bike ride around the entire British coastline and a 340-mile walk from Liverpool to London – he is excited about the challenge of helping Element to grow. ‘I fell instantly and deeply in love with this area. Of all the places I have been to in the world, it is among the most special,’ he says. ‘I want to help other people to enjoy it, discover it, whether through hiking, biking, carefully tailored weekends, or by offering workshops on writing or photography and other subjects – with the emphasis always on our vital and increasingly lost connections to the natural world. Perhaps we need this right now more than ever before.’

We are busy working on weekends that have nature at their core: some specifically for women, others for mixed groups. There will be an Introduction To Mountain Biking For Women next year – run along the same lines as our fell-running days. There’ll be weekends – some of which have a fixed itinerary and some, called In Your Element, with a ‘menu’ of activity and accommodation options for you to piece together the weekend that your group wants. Mike will also offer a Travel Writing weekend.

Dates and specifics will be appearing on the website later in the year, so do stay tuned – updates will be on all social media and we’ll endeavour to send out more short newsletters. I’m genuinely excited by these new directions and am really looking forward to seeing many of you again.

It seems odd to say that during the time of coronavirus I’ve personally been busier than ever. It’s been a combination of things – moving house and having a big building project to manage. Finding a dust-free place to work without the noise of drilling or tile-cutting has been at times a challenge. We’ve been installing ground source heating, which has entailed laying 1.5km of piping under our field and will enable us to be much closer to zero carbon for heating. I’ve also learned a lot about diggers and bulldozers, aka ‘the Dozer’ and now find myself driving slowly past building sites to see what machinery they’re using! I’ve been delighted to be delivering Element courses again since July and managing all the increased complexity, difficulty, disappointment and renewal that a Covid-19 world has brought.

Many of you have been on our Beginning Fell Running For Women day. As someone said on the last course, ‘this day is about much more than just running’. One running club has booked the course as a club day and, due to demand, I’ve now opened up another one, on Saturday November 7th. I continue to find the connections, spirit, conversations and age range (one of our latest participants pictured below was 67) from this day inspiring and uplifting.

More soon. There won’t be any killer whales or snow leopards, but there will be lots of new, nicely challenging, empowering and exciting courses coming in 2021. Watch this space.

Looking for Inspiration?

Get in touch

Do you have any queries about this event or want to discuss a weekend tailored to your needs?