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Patricia Boardman - From Textile Designer to Thriving Outdoor Instructor.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Patricia Boardman, a former textile designer, has transformed her love for the outdoors into a thriving career as a freelance outdoor instructor. With a strong belief that anyone can pursue their passion for the outdoors, Tricia's journey showcases the power of perseverance and a deep connection with nature. From teaching young adults the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award to leading groups on mountain expeditions across the UK, Tricia's days are filled with diversity and adventure.

For the past 15 years, Tricia has dedicated herself to working as an outdoor instructor. A few years ago, she made the courageous decision to transition into full-time freelancing, allowing her to fully immerse herself in her passion. Her genuine love for the outdoors and her desire to push herself out of her comfort zone have been the driving forces behind her success.

Growing up in South Manchester, Tricia developed a love for hiking and camping in her late teens. She found like-minded individuals who shared her passion for walking, forging lifelong friendships along the way. Inspired to progress further in the outdoor industry, Tricia pursued her Mountain Leader (ML) Qualification, a milestone she achieved despite not having the opportunity to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award during her school years.

In a male-dominated environment, Tricia persevered, accumulating quality mountain days and fitting in training around her work commitments. She honed her skills in navigation and micro-navigation, pushing herself to be the best she could be. Gradually, she began picking up weekend work and building her reputation through word-of-mouth recommendations, steadily establishing a network of connections in the industry.

Tricia reflects on the early years of her career, recognising the challenges she faced as a woman in the industry. However, her unwavering determination and passion for working with people propelled her forward. Over time, she had the opportunity to lead expeditions with children in destinations such as India, Peru, and even climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Witnessing young adults progress and grow, particularly during her time in Peru, solidified her love for her work.

The pandemic brought about changes in Tricia's life, including being made redundant. However, armed with some savings, she took the leap into full-time outdoor work, embracing the freedom and fulfilment it brought. She shares practical advice for women seeking to gain experience in the outdoors, emphasising the power of asking and being truthful about one's abilities.

As a sole trader using her own name, Tricia finds joy in the variety of her work and the balance between her personal love of the outdoors and her professional pursuits. She plans to expand her qualifications, particularly in water-based activities and cave leading. Despite the occasional challenges, Tricia remains motivated, continuously striving to improve her climbing skills and push her boundaries.

Tricia is passionate about promoting diversity in the outdoors and is particularly motivated to inspire girls, especially in faith schools, to embrace nature and adventure. Being of mixed heritage—half Indian and half Scottish—she takes pride in being a role model for the girls she teaches and strives to make the outdoors accessible to all.

With her infectious enthusiasm, Tricia shares magical moments she has experienced in nature and her unwavering dedication to helping people reach their full potential. Her final words of advice serve as an inspiration for women who aspire to work in the outdoors, along with valuable guidance on obtaining qualifications and pursuing their dreams.


This episode of the Tough Girl Podcast was sponsored by Land & Wave! We hope you've been inspired by Patricia Boardman's incredible journey and her passion for the outdoors. Remember, with perseverance and a love for nature, anyone can turn their dreams into reality.

Stay tuned for more empowering stories and don't forget to hit the subscribe button to stay updated on new episodes, released every Tuesday and Thursday at 7am UK time. Thank you for joining us on this adventure!


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Show notes

  • Tricia Boardman

  • Woking as an outdoor instructor for the past 15 years

  • Deciding to go full time as a freelancer a few years ago

  • Her love for the outdoors

  • Making friends with people at 17/18 years old with people who loved walking

  • Liking to push herself out of her comfort zone

  • Going on day hikes and camping

  • Growing up in South Manchester

  • Studying textiles at college and working in a bar part time

  • Deciding to take on her Mountain Leader (ML) Qualification

  • Not getting the chance to do the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award as it wasn’t available at her school

  • Meeting people who already had their ML qualification and being encouraged to do it.

  • Wanting to progress further in the outdoors

  • Learning in a male dominated environment

  • Getting her quality mountain days in and fitting in the training around work

  • Doing solo days and spending time walking in the outdoors

  • Focusing on navigation and micro navigation

  • Starting to pick up a few pieces of work here and there at the weekends

  • What it was like being a woman in the industry when she first started working in it 20 years ago

  • Thinking about working full time in the outdoors

  • Getting the opportunity to lead a few expeditions with children abroad, to India, Peru, and taking on Kilimanjaro

  • Helping young adults progress and grow

  • Loving her time spend in Peru

  • Making changes to her life after the pandemic

  • Being made redundant and having some money behind her while making the transition to working outdoors full-time.

  • Her love for working with people

  • Getting work when she first started out

  • Building up a network and connections, and being recommended via word of mouth

  • Gaining experience in the industry via work shadowing and volunteering with waking groups

  • Practicalities of getting work experience and how to go about it

  • Advice and tips for women who want to gain more experience in the outdoors

  • The power of asking people

  • Why it’s important to be truthful about what you can and can’t do

  • What a typical week looks like during busy season

  • Loving the variety of the work

  • Working as a sole trader and using her own name

  • The British Mountaineering Council (BMC)

  • Thinking about getting further qualifications - especially water based qualifications

  • Cave Leader Qualification

  • Tips for dealing with the bad days

  • Balancing work with her personal love of the outdoors

  • Working slowly towards climbing all of the Wainwrights

  • Wanting to go up a grade in climbing

  • Climbing with friends who climb harder than her, in order to push herself to get better and make progress

  • Buying a van in September 2022 (Transit - long wheel base) and doing the renovation with her partner (Nick).

  • Take the van on a climbing trip to the South of France and following the sunshine before heading back to the UK

  • Living in the van (instead of camping) to help keep costs down while working

  • Pay for a day’s DofE work (£130 - £150)

  • Making a living from working in the outdoors and taking on other additional jobs throughout the winter months.

  • Being booked up with work throughout the summer months

  • Diversity in the outdoors and her thoughts of working in the industry

  • Working in Faith Schools and helping to inspire girls to get outdoors and spend time in nature

  • Being half Indian and half Scottish and feeling proud that she can be a role model to the girls she is teaching

  • Wanting to make the outdoors accessible

  • Being encouraged by her mum “don’t let anyone stop you, just do what you want to do”

  • Discrimination in the outdoors? And how things have changed over the years

  • Magical moments in the outdoors and why she loves spending time in nature

  • Her passion for helping people to reach their potential

  • Final words of advice for other women who want to work in the outdoors

  • Advice for getting your qualifications


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