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Inspiring & connecting through Selfless Isolation.

A Spring Trail Clean story by Julia Hobson.

It's hard to explain how cool it feels when someone includes us in their personal stories about the places that they love and protect. It's even cooler still when they are clearly 'joining-in' with one of our projects by including our fancy hashtags and messages that we'd like to share. The current situation has amplified this feeling, with each tag, message or friendly comment on social media soothing our sadness at not being out on our Spring Trail Clean Tour meeting hundreds of people with whom we have so much in common.

This beautiful story is a perfect example of the power and purity of this connection and we feel honoured that Julia felt that she wanted to share it with us. We hope you enjoy it too.

Take it away Julia :)

It's not easy to get your head around how crazy life has become in just a few weeks, & it's even harder to get away from the bad news, growing anxiety and fear that surround us right now. Like many, I've found myself with a lot more free time than normal lately. And while I can't use it for the things I would love to, getting out in the hills biking, trips to the mountains, time on adventures with friends, it's made me think about what else I can use this time for and ways I can stay sane and find the positives in this otherwise depressing situation.

A couple of weeks ago, awake early one morning with the anxiety induced by spending too long on my phone following developments in the news, I got up and went for a sunrise walk through the local woods to clear my head.

It was a beautiful morning. Frosty, cold and crisp. The sunrise was incredible, lighting up mist hanging in the valley below. Birds were singing, hedgerows were blossomimg, and the world was beginning to turn green as Spring arrived.

I stopped and sat listening to the birds for a while, trying to identify them from their songs, and as I did so, I noticed how much litter there was around me. I've ridden and run through these woods and along these paths so many times before, but maybe I wasn't going slow enough to notice things right in front of my eyes.

Sure, there's been the stuff on the surface I have noticed...I live on the edge of Bradford and whilst I'm lucky that I can walk or ride from my door into the woods and out into the countryside, it is still an urban woodland on the edge of a city, with all the problems that brings. But sat there, I really noticed just how much there was. Now I had slowed down, I was noticing signs of nature that I'd missed before, but I was also noticing how much of a mess it was too.

It made me sad. It's such a beautiful woodland, and I feel lucky, especially right now where options for getting outside each day are limited to one local walk or short ride from the door, to have it on my doorstep.

I decided I was going to return each time I walked through the woods with some gloves and a bin bag, and slowly but surely clear some of the rubbish away. I figured by walking a few times a week, over a couple of months, clearing a bag at a time, I'd at least have made a dent in the amount there, and that would make me happy.

I don't see many people in the woods, although the paths show it's clearly used a lot, so it's a good place to be right now, open and without many other people around, and just a few minutes walk from my door.

And so I've continued, slowly collecting a bag of trash each time I walk, enjoying fresh air and the fact we are lucky to be able to get out once a day still where lots of people can't.

In doing so I've seen deer, heard and spotted dozens of birds, smelt the coconut scent of the gorseon the hillside, come across beautiful old trees and ruins of buildings from times gone by that i'd completely missed before, and found some new lines to ride too! I've passed other people, smiled and called a friendly "hi!" and everytime come back feeling happier than when I went out, having escaped reality for a while in the woods. I'm really enjoying these walks, especially now I have a purpose, and the knowledge that I'm doing something positive. It's a small effort, but it makes me feel good in a time where it's easy to feel down.

This week, out one early evening, something amazing happened that I'm still smiling about now. Amidst the crazy world we're in, a feel good moment that lifted my spirits.

Part way round my walk, I saw another lady walking towards me, carrying a bin bag and picker-upper and collecting litter too! I was so excited, there was a fellow local trail fairy! We stopped for a chat (at a distance of course) and I said how nice it was to see someone else doing the same thing. She went on to explain how she had seen me a week earlier and when she saw what I was doing had felt inspired to do the same and use her lockdown time productively! How cool is that!?I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear that my small actions had positively influenced someone else. I've been in a great mood ever since.

It reinforced to me how despite needing to self isolate and physically distance ourselves from others right now, we can still separately and virtually join forces. Come together and do positive things that make ourselves and others feel good or smile, and make the World (and our trails) a better place.

Trash Free Trails would have been running their Spring Trail Clean right now at locations around the country, but rather than cancel it, they had the great idea to change it to a DIY trail clean instead! What a fantastic idea! That rather than Self Isolate, we can "Selflessly Isolate" and use some of the time we have to go out on a walk or ride once a day to help make more of our own local trails trash free.

I guarantee you'll notice more of the good (and bad!) things around you that you may never have noticed before, by slowing your walk down to stop and pick up litter, and maybe you'll influence some of the people you see while out to think twice about dropping litter, or even to start clearing it too!

Who knows how long life will be like this, but in the meantime I've got a wood full of rubbish to clear and the goal is to return it to it's natural state in the time we've got!

The Trash Free Trails movement is driven by wonderful people like Julia (and the 'distant friend' who was inspired by her #selfLESSisolation DIY Spring Trail Cleaning. In these times of restricted horizons and dialled down adventure many of us are reconnecting with the very essence of our love for our trails and wild places. So, if you've been inspired by Julia's awesome story and you believe in what we're trying to achieve it would be awesome if you could let us know what you see, feel and think about when you're out on your #1aday adventures.

Thank you and remember to stay safe :)

Thanks to our Spring Trail Clean Tour partners; @trekbikes_uk - @hopetech - @pedalmtbltd


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