In partnership with The National Lottery
I recently found out that The National Lottery was celebrating its 25th birthday this month, which made me feel outrageously old. I also learned that in that time, The National Lottery has done some pretty remarkable work behind the scenes to keep our country’s landscapes looking picture perfect.
For example, did you know that over half a billion pounds worth of National Lottery funding has been invested in over 9,000 outdoor projects over the last 25 years, protecting endless British landscapes?
Me neither. Well, until now.
To celebrate this incredible milestone and the huge impact they’ve had over the past 25 years, The National Lottery has launched a Guide To 25 Amazing Outdoor Adventures’ – a 25 strong-list of all the UK’s best adventures, all of which have received funding thanks to National Lottery players.
David Renwick, the Director of the North of England for the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“We chose some places that were iconic that represented different things in different landscapes. Obviously we wanted to choose 25 projects that have good coverage across the UK and showcased a selection of the thousands of projects and millions of pounds that the National Lottery has provided.”
Adventures include hiking in Carneddau, Snowdonia and boating around Lake Windermere in the Lake District, but what list of the UK’s greatest outdoor adventures would be complete without climbing Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in Britain – located in the Scottish Highlands?
That may seem like a daunting task, but for perennial thrill-seeker Helen Skelton, partaking in one of The National Lottery’s 25 Amazing Adventures was just another exciting opportunity to test her mettle.
Helen’s famous for taking on some of the world’s biggest natural adventures and beating them – from kayaking the entire length of the Amazon River to becoming the first person to reach the South Pole using a bicycle.
In short, she’s a pretty awesome person.
Taking on Ben Nevis, Helen led a special expedition made up of young people from the PEEK Project in Glasgow. But as with most great adventures, there were many highs and lows.
She told us: “It was a brutal day – I’m not going to lie.
“It was one of the worst weather days I’ve ever experienced; it was so wet and wild and windy, but it made it a real challenge.
“It’s very humbling because the weather dictates what you can do – you can have all the arrogance and ignorance in the world but ultimately Mother Nature rules all of that.
“Plus Ben Nevis is huge! Even getting half way up is higher than most people will ever climb. It took us six hours or something in total.
“That being said, everyone was smiling when they got to the bottom and everyone felt a real sense of achievement.”
“I’m very proud of everybody involved.”
I won’t beat around the bush – I’m very much an indoor person. I like my plug sockets, I like my chargers and I like being in complete control of the temperature. However, after reading about Helen’s story, I have to admit I’m feeling inspired to get out there and attempt one of these adventures for myself.
“It’s easy to think you aren’t an outdoorsy person. We went up Ben Nevis, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to do that; maybe you’re an outdoor swimmer, maybe you’re a rock climber, maybe you’re a boulderer, maybe you’re someone that just wants to go for a walk and look at some ruins – you don’t have to spend hours up a mountain in the rain to make the most of some of these projects.
“The great thing about being on an island is that we’re so close to so many different adventures. We’re very lucky that we’ve got such a concentrated area of adventure.
“The National Lottery’s list is a celebration of outdoor projects across the country and if we can make one person take a little bit of responsibility, a little bit of accountability about the landscape that’s on their doorstep then this has gone above and beyond what it intended to do.”
What a woman.
You can also discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting their website and getting involved by using hashtag #NationalLottery25.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy our stunning natural heritage!
Images via National Lottery, Visit Isle of Wight, PDNP and Roddy Muir
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens. You can contact Ben at [email protected] Twitter: @PulsfordBen / Instagram: @thebenmidlerFollow