31 July, 2023
Ways to live and work in the great outdoors
If you’ve longed for a lifestyle closer to the great outdoors, what would living the dream look like to you? If you’re reading this, it’s likely to involve fresh air, long walks, micro adventures and new experiences. You’re far from alone in your daydreams, and despite the Covid-induced exodus from our cities in recent years, there are still plenty of pockets of relative wilderness to escape to. The key question you may need to ask is less a case of ‘where’ and more of ‘how’?
Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to escape the trappings of the mortgage or the school run, but if there’s even a little wiggle room, there may just be the right opportunity for you to get much closer to an active, outdoors life and potentially even a change in career too.
If you’re willing to take on new skills, there are plenty of ways to retrain for an outdoors nine-to-five. Land and Wave offer a 7-week paddlesport training course, that’ll arm you with 10 qualifications to help you being a new teaching career on the water. LANTRA is the government’s dedicated agricultural training provider, offering course in livestock and land management, business development, vehicle operation and… chainsaw operation!
You don’t have to be an fully-fledged expedition guide or wildlife expert to find work with no walls either. The RSPB has a wide variety of career opportunities across the UK, including at remote locations such as Orkney and Rathlin Island, off the NI coast. From stoat detection dog handler to research assistant to communications officer, there are a huge variety of roles available throughout the year, some with accommodation included.
The Knepp Estate, never out of the news at the moment due its groundbreaking rewilding projects, is a 3,500 acre estate in West Sussex. Each summer it recruits a pair of campsite wardens who are offered paid accommodate on-site for the duration of the season. Perks include on-site gym classes and more wildlife spotting that you can dream of, including their growing family of storks and the very rare Bechstein’s bat. They’re also currently for their new kitchen and looking for a full-time gardener to develop their new public landscape at nearby Swallows Farm.
If it’s a new outdoors on your doorstep you’re looking for, the National Trust rent out thousands of properties across its estates, some more rural than others and as diverse as a flat in a country estate to a farm lease.
Sustainable living is very much the way for a number of small eco-settlements, where you can be part of the community and live almost or entirely off-grid. Lammas, in Wales, was one of the first communities to be set up. There are plenty of videos and blogs on their site, documenting their journey so far. If you fancied seeing one for yourself, West Lexham is a wellness retreat in Norfolk that takes on short-term, live-in volunteers to learn more about their community whilst helping with day-to-day tasks and hosting.
If you’re just seeking a little inspiration to help you plan, Channel 4’s recent series, Living Wild, visits some of the brave souls who’ve already taken the leap and begun their wilder lives. There are also countless blogs highlighting the pros and cons of swapping city for a country life, such as Life Can Be Toff and Me and Orla, by Sara Tasker, speech therapist turned lifestyle blogger, who moved to a tiny Yorkshire village with her young family.
Whatever stage you’re at in your quest for a more active, outdoors life, there’s no better plan that to get out there and see for yourself what’s possible. Good luck building your wild future!
If you’ve already embarked upon your outdoors lifestyle adventure, or you’re on that journey right now, tell us more at @beoutsidebeactive
Jenny-Anne Dexter is a full-time life enthusiast, who likes to say yes to the abstract, the sublime and the ridiculous. A bog snorkeller, trail runner, year-round dipper and sometime cage fighter, she's open to suggestions as to her next challenge...
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