Welcome to “On the hill with…” a series of short interviews with members of the Rucksack Club. This week it is Amy Illingworth, another member who was introduced to the Club from an early age. She, and husband Will, are based in Chamonix and this “On the hill with…” completes the first husband and wife interviews!
How did you get into walking and climbing?
My parents met through the Chester Mountaineering Club and they were both keen to spend time in the outdoors. My sister and I weren’t really given an option, though most of my childhood memories are of wild swimming and canyoning, rather than walking.
Who has had the most influence on your mountain experiences?
My Dad taught me to climb and gave me an incredible foundation. My friends from Sheffield Uni days are hugely important to me, we’ve been on so many trips together and they’ve introduced so much fun and laughter into the process… plus one became my husband. I’ve also been inspired by a number of women who I see out leading and enjoying exciting trips, in particular some of the women who I met when I lived in Canada.
How did you come to join the RC?
I was living in Scotland at the time, and the lure of a key for Craigallan proved too strong.
What does the perfect ‘hill’ day consist of?
I love the days when I’m not sure that the plan will work, and when you have to push a little harder so that it all comes together. Good friends and wildlife sightings add to the experience for me.
What have been your most memorable days out?
A trip to Wadi Rum in Jordan with Elsie Riley and 2 others in 2012 will always stand out. It is such an impressive landscape, and I loved the culture and sense of adventure there. We were benighted on Jebel Rum one night – the abseil descent through canyons while the muezzin’s call echoed round the valley was unexpected but wonderful. Visit if you can.
Have you had any mishaps in the ‘hills’ and, if so, what’s been the worst?
I’m very glad I survived my first-time ice climbing in Canada. Looking back, I didn’t really know what I was doing that day. I’m grateful that I had access to training courses such as the Conville Course, and my Dad, to learn most of my mountain skills.
What is your dream ‘hill’ objective?
I would love to see a brockenspectre. I keep hoping it will just happen one day, but eventually I will start a brockenspectre hunt, possibly with a visit to the Brocken in Germany.
What makes a great ‘hill’ partner? Has anyone come close?
At the moment I am ski touring a lot. I intend to be ski touring when I’m eighty, so I really appreciate being out with people who have a good deal of avalanche awareness and are happy to discuss decisions as a group.
With a busy professional and personal life, how do you manage to keep active in the hills?
I’m not always sure I do a good job of this! My husband Will and I have tried to make it easy to be active, by choosing where we live and work with our plans in mind. I try to make being outdoors sociable, as I know I’m much more likely to go for a run if I’ve made a plan with a friend.
I also like to set myself challenges in the outdoors, with the hope that I will be motivated to train. (see RCJ article on Ben Nevis).
What future ‘hill’ plans do you have?
Currently I am trying to complete a 52 Summits & 52 Climate change actions challenge. Taking meaningful action on climate change is proving much harder to achieve than summiting mountains. [Ed…this was written before ‘lockdown’ occurred, so is on hold]
What have been the benefits of RC membership?
I’ve met some great people through the Club, and gone on to have wonderful adventures– the trip to Jordan with Elsie Riley, and night time runs up Win Hill with Karen Rose both stand out.
The regular meets in particular are great fun. I love joining the Marsden-Edale for a post-Christmas blast of fresh air, and then there is the sociability of the Gogarth meet.
I’ve appreciated getting to know people from a wide variety of age groups. Many of the older members of the club are pretty inspiring people and I have a positive attitude to ageing in part because I know all these legends still cranking in their seventies and eighties. Meeting MUMC members has also been great.