Adventurous expedition leader, Penny Knight, has worked with Charity Challenge for over 7 years on a variety of exciting overseas challenges. From crossing glacial rivers in Iceland to trekking across the sun-drenched Sahara Desert, Penny shares some of her highlights with us…
Name: Penny Knight
(Current) location: North Yorkshire Dales
What’s been your favourite expedition (so far)?
It’s so hard to decide on one, but I think it has to be the Sumatran Jungle challenge, for so many reasons. I just love the smiley people, hot, humid climate and varied wildlife. The fantastic spicy food, physical variety of the challenge with river wading and steep ascents and descents – along with the remoteness and survival aspects- really make this a true challenge in every sense of the word.
What’s been your most memorable moment on an expedition?
I will never forget climbing the Heavenly Staircase on the Great Wall in China with one particular participants who shared their motivation and story with me. It was incredibly emotional and I remember there were a few tears (from the both of us!) as she conquered the challenge.
What qualities do you think a good expedition leader needs?
Good preparation is vital, and a sense of humour is key! You need to be able to balance caution and confidence simultaneously, and you must have the ability to make decisions quickly whilst remaining calm under pressure. An inherent spirit and wild enthusiasm definitely help, along with the ability to be supportive and empathetic throughout some grueling conditions.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not an expedition leader?
Very sad . . . . . but probably an outdoor centre operations manager ( as I was before I qualified to lead expeditions).
When you’re not hiking up mountains or cycling across countries, what do you do in your spare time?
You will usually find me outside! Yesterday I enjoyed a fantastic 12 mile walk in the Yorkshire Dales. I do enjoy writing about my adventures, and recently published my book, A Knight Fulfilled, which includes some of my experiences from around the world. I do love great food – but not cooking so much! And I love to keep in touch with friends that I have made on these expeditions throughout the years.
What is the best thing about being a leader?
The people you meet – both the participants and the guides in country. I also really enjoy the difference you hope you can make to those who trust you to lead them, and the way you can learn and motivate each other – it is priceless. It truly gives me a greater thrill than anything else I can think of in life – an excitement, satisfaction, exhilaration, pride, value and enjoyment which cannot be surpassed in any other line of work I’ve come across!
Have you been on an expedition with Penny? Did she help you achieve more than you ever thought was possible? Share your experiences and stories with us. Comment below!