My Story #11: Claire Hendrickse, Freelance Outdoor Instructor


In this series we will be sharing the stories of outdoor instructors, mountain guides and enthusiasts who work and play in the mountains. Links to all the previous posts can be found at the bottom of the page. 

I met Claire Hendrickse (then Claire Llewellyn) and her future husband David when I worked at YMCA Lakeside in April 1988. She is a qualified primary teacher currently working as a freelance outdoor instructor. She holds qualifications across all the outdoor disciplines: Mountain Leader, Single Pitch Award, Level 2 Canoe and Kayak, Level 2 Cave Leader, Level 2 Powerboat, Trail Bike Leader training,  and Archery Instructor.

11 Claire Hendrickse 3 1500px.png

What are your first memories of adventures in the outdoors as a child or teenager?

As a family every holiday was spent in a cottage, caravan or tent in the Lake District or Scotland. My parents loved fell walking and one of my Dad’s ambitions was to do all the Wainwrights. I would walk back along the valleys at the end of the day, holding my Dad’s hand wearing my Peter Storm waterproof singing ‘Ten Green Bottles’ or ‘One Man Went To Mow…’ to take my mind off my tired legs.

What do you remember about your outdoor adventures when you started doing them independently?

One of my first summer jobs was working at Outward Bound Ullswater in their annex at Martindale. Here I climbed and did expeditions for the first time and loved it. After that summer I went to college in York where my closest friends loved climbing and the outdoors.

Claire & David

Claire & David

When did it change from a hobby to a career?

In 1985 I went on a two-week course at YMCA Lakeside as part of my job in youth work. During this course I decided this is what I wanted to do.  Eighteen months later I was working there full time as an outdoor instructor.

What has the path been since then?

After working at Lakeside for two years I did a PGCE at Sheffield and then taught for two years in Cumbria. David, my husband, set up an outdoor business and I became a full-time mum with four children. When our children were older I went back to teaching, and worked in the outdoors at weekends and in the holidays. I now work in the outdoors freelancing full time and love it.

Claire with her four children

Claire with her four children