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Lucy Lapwing on Bespoken's 'Clipped Wings' for Radio 4

BBC Springwatch naturalist and self-confessed 'nature nerd' Lucy Lapwing is the presenter of 'Clipped Wings', a BBC Radio 4 programme exploring how women experience being alone in nature. It follows a frightening incident of sexual assault that left Lucy questioning how she can still enjoy being alone in the wilds. The programme was expertly produced by Jac Phillimore for Bespoken Media.

The following was originally written by Lucy for her Instagram, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.


Alone. In nature. On your bill. Your Tod. It’s a reet special thing, isn't it?

Climbing a mountain, swimming in the sea or wandering through the woods – the feeling of doing it alone is extremely freeing.

Walking around as a lone woman, a catalogue of ‘what ifs’ regularly race through your head. My female friends share these worries too. On nature walks, we subconsciously plan an escape. A path to run down, or a door to knock on – even jumping into a canal has crossed my mind before. Last year, my fears became a reality. I won’t go into detail, but I had a horrible experience whilst out birdwatching. For a long time after, I was rattled. My safe place of solace and peace had been shattered. I birdwatched with my back to a wall or hedge. I glanced over my shoulders constantly. I felt hurt and frustrated that one single horrible incident, carried out by one individual, had impacted upon the thing I loved doing so much.

There’s a shared understanding between a lot of women – this mix of fear, uneasiness and outrage is a familiar cocktail in a world where sexual harassment is so widespread. But I’ve also learned how women supporting women, lifting each other up and sharing our joy together, is a wonderful, powerful thing. This week I talked about my experience on BBC Radio 4. In doing it, I had the absolute *honour* of meeting four other badass, wonderful, kind women who adventure in the outdoors alone.

Sorrel Lyall – a fellow birder and nature lover. We giggled together watching tufted ducks and shoeveller from a bird hide. Ali Ogden – a hiker and rambler. Her face lit up when she told me stories of camping at the base of beautiful mountains. Catriona Bruce – a runner. Her softness and gentleness made me feel like I was in the company of a good friend immediately. Lee Craigie – a biker and racer, and Scotland's Active Nation commissioner. Her fire and spirit made me want to run out into the world and have adventures! We chatted about allll this tough stuff. It was sad, and infuriating, and also joyful and warm.

I’m so grateful to the lovely Jac Phillimore for bringing us all together for it.

If you fancy a listen, it’s up on BBC Sounds now. ❤

Huge thanks to Lucy, both for sharing her story, and for letting us duplicate her post here. Additionally, here is a small selection of the feedback to 'Clipped Wings' from Twitter.

The programme also sparked impassioned discussion in a MumsNet thread - here.

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