I write and review scientific manuscripts as part of my day job, but up until 2017 the only thing I had published relating to the outdoors was a letter to Adventure Travel following a rock climbing fall in 2005.

2017 was to be the year of my first self-organised and solo arctic winter trip, in Norway, and with that on the horizon I resolved to try and get some half decent pictures and words together, and see if I could cobble them into a piece for a magazine.

Fast forward to May, and following the successful trip to Norway I had  managed to twist the arm of Steve Dickinson, the editor of Adventure Magazine New Zealand, to publish a four page feature – wahooo my first ever piece in print! (see below).

Click on the image to read the article!

Hot on the heels of this success I spent an afternoon putting together a short piece on Pen y Fan, and another on the health benefits of hill walking. My aim was to submit to my favourite outdoor website, UK Hillwalking. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! To my surprise I had a nice email from the editor Dan Bailey a few weeks later, and with that I had my first online pieces published. Since the summer I’ve gone back to UKH and am really pleased to now have a number published with them, and a few more in the pipeline. My favourite by far is this one below, a collation of hill walkers views on their choice of a final mountain walk – you might recognise a few of the contributers.

Click on the image to read the article!

Late Autumn brought another opportunity for a Leicestershire publication called Active Magazine. Following some initial contact, Mary Bremner, the deputy editor came back to me with an offer to write a monthly column on my expedition to cross Lake Baikal in February 2018, and that is exactly what I’ve been doing since November. So far, I’d been on a bit of a roll…

Click on the image to read the article! (pg.59)

It hasn’t all been plain sailing however, my pitches have been ignored by a number of editors, but overall I consider it to be a good start at this game. One area I feel I need to work on is improving my photo skills and tweaking my writing to be a bit punchier and less verbose. Over time I hope that I can make the transition to being a good outdoors writer, and perhaps one day make a living of it.

For now I’ve just picked up the latest editions of The Great Outdoors and Country Walking. A lofty ambition perhaps, but my aim is to get one article into either of these in 2018. Let’s see how we go with that…


Postscript: A big thank you to Steve Dickinson, Dan Bailey (in particular) and Mary Bremner for giving my start in outdoors writing.

About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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