Hi everyone, my name’s Grace (of @graces__adventures on Instagram and YouTube) – I’m a keen adventurer and I love exploring the hills, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, you name it. I love being outdoors and the sense of freedom and peace that it brings. I’ve been a lover of the outdoors for around 2 years now after being taken up my first mountain in 2018. I got the bug as soon as I reached that summit of Snowdon and even though I didn’t have any experience, much kit or any clue how to navigate, I knew I wanted to explore my passion for the outdoors more, and so in 2020 I set myself the challenge of climbing a mountain a month and I started documenting my adventures on YouTube and Instagram to share advice, mistakes, tips and inspiration with others.

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Photo by @x_p_r_n_z

When I first discovered my love for hiking, none of my close friends or family were really into it and I spent a lot of time on solo adventures, finding my way by learning as I went and more so, learning from my mistakes. I went along to a hiking meet up in the Peak District in December 2019 and it changed everything. For the first time, I met SO many people who were as crazy about hiking as I was, and it was such a breath of fresh air to share my passion and also hear about other people’s experiences. That day opened so many doors for me and I’m still close friends now with some of the people I met on that first hike.

As I shared my many adventures throughout 2020 and 2021 online, my social platform grew and I got more and more people asking me if they could join me on a hike because they didn’t know anyone who was into hiking and didn’t have the confidence to go solo. That’s the exact position I was in 18 months previously, and so once restrictions eased, I finally bit the bullet and arranged my first hiking meet up along with a friend called Jen (@outdoor_flo) who shared my ambition to bring people together and encourage more people to get into the outdoors. We planned an 8-mile route around Dovedale in the Peak District and we shared it out on our Instagram stories, welcoming anyone to join us. We expected 5 or 6 people to turn up, but to our surprise, 36 people rocked up that day to join us on a hike. So many people arrived on their own and were understandably very nervous, but as soon as we set off, people were chatting and laughing and sharing stories and it was an incredible atmosphere. By the end of the walk, there were huge smiles all around, some people had ticked off their first ever hike and true friendships had been formed.

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Flash forward a few weeks and we’re doing our first Yorkshire Dales meet up. A 9-mile route of the popular circuit of Malham Cove to Gordale Scar and Janets Foss. I had previously become aware of Hiiker as a friend who is walking the mega trail from John O Groats to Lands End was using it to plot his route. I was really impressed to find an app that had international trails and made planning a thru-hike so much easier; and with me planning my first long distance trail for a few months’ time, I was looking to familiarise myself with it. I spoke to Eoin at Hiiker to understand more about how the app worked and he let me know they were planning to add thousands of shorter day hikes to the platform, which was very ideal. I found the Malham trail on there and downloaded it to use offline (I always do this due to often being out of signal on hikes and also so I can put my phone on airplane mode to conserve the battery if I need to). I noticed that the Hiiker app doesn’t track your hike like other apps do, which is another great battery saver, but instead it shows you the route and where you are, and you can check your location and position as you go.

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Photo by @lage.marcio

We had an incredible 56 people turn up to this group hike which was our biggest and best turn out yet (plus about 10 dogs which made the entire day so much more enjoyable) and the route was simple and easy to follow. We marvelled at the unique beauty of Malham Cove, famous for being a location in a Harry Potter scene. We stopped for lunch at a food truck near Gordale Scar and some of us went for a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Janets Foss before finishing the route and enjoying a drink at the pub before parting ways.

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Especially after the past year we’ve had, it’s incredible to be able to bring people together of all ages, all experiences, and all walks of life. I’m so proud of the people who turn up on their own and have the courage to push themselves out of their comfort zones by joining a group of strangers on a walk. They’re not strangers for long as we all share a common passion and so friendships are easily formed, and we all leave looking forward to the next time we can get together for a social hike.

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I really recommend downloading Hiiker and checking out some of the trails on there – especially if you’re planning on doing any hiking abroad and also if you’re looking to plan your first thru-hike or multi day trail. Huge thanks to the Hiiker team for their support in our Yorkshire Dales group hike. If you’re interested in joining a future meet up, feel free to drop me a message on Instagram.

Graces Adventures x

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