Title: Gracious solitude

City of Residence:Didcot

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Growing up, the idea that a woman could go off travelling on her own seemed to be just that - an idea; something that I felt didn’t really happen very often, and I had never really spoken about it to anyone. It wasn’t until I got to my early 20s, fresh out of university, that I really started to think about finding the courage to go exploring on my own, and the big dream was to get myself to the Scottish Highlands which were 620 miles away from home. Almost a year after graduating, I went on a biking trip to the Yorkshire Dales with a friend of mine. Before this, the trips I had been on were either with previous partners or my family. A few months later, I was on my way to south Snowdonia in Wales, where I spent a very long weekend and was met with changeable weather, failing waterproofs and a taste of freedom of being on my own in a new place. Granted, by the time I was settled, I was feeling on top of the world, but before I had even got there, the fear of potentially putting my safety at risk was something that I almost constantly thought about. Wales wasn’t too far from home, so if was desperate, I could go back, but Scotland was a lot further. When I returned, I booked a Scotland trip for the following February, splitting 10 days between Inverness and Fort William. The closer it got, the more I questioned my choice, worrying about the prospect of travelling so many miles on my own, as well as potentially breaking down for the first time, hurting myself halfway up a mountain in the middle of nowhere with no signal, or running out of food and water when I was out on a long hike. Regardless of my concerns, I went anyway. I always knew that the Scottish Highlands would be a fantastic place to go on holiday, but I never imagined how deeply I ended up loving every second of that trip. Pain au raisin was my main breakfast choice, and I was usually out of the B&B by 7am, exploring and walking to my heart’s content. I had never felt so comfortable, liberated and relaxed as I did whilst I was amongst those mountains. There was a welcoming stillness. A feeling of belonging. I was blissfully unaware of my world back home. Since my first solo trip away, I have now been on 11 holidays on my own, exploring many different parts of the UK. Explore. Share. Inspire. Live. This piece is mixed media - partially photograph, partially digital art, both of which I enjoy thoroughly.