Let me introduce myself. My name is Harrison Ward and I saw alcohol as an additional tool to silence my thoughts. But thanks to the fells and food, I continue my fight back from depression and addiction.
I experienced depression and suicidal thoughts as a child and turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism while at university in York. I moved into the pub trade in the city and soon found myself overweight, drinking up to 20 pints a day and smoking full time.
I saw alcohol as an additional tool to silence my thoughts, but it ended up becoming a bit more of a poison.
Things all came to a head in 2016, when my relationship at the time broke down.
I vowed to get sober, remove alcohol from my life, stop smoking and really try and turn things around. So, I came back home to Cumbria and was completely open with my story to friends and family and was really welcomed with a huge show of support.
I filled the void left by alcohol with the combination of fitness and cooking, although extremely positive for my progression, it didn’t quite fill this gap that had been left.
Still, in the throes of withdrawal, I was introduced to the activity of hiking. I had zero stamina, minimal gear and an over-occupied mind battling a sudden change, loss and battling my lifelong relationship with my mind head-on! What came next just clicked for me.
After a baptism of fire being marched up Blencathra, Helvellyn was put in the sights as my second climb. Reaching that summit ignited a whole new addiction.
Gradually tackling more and more of the Lake District fells, the mountains very quickly became my solace, as well as my gym and kitchen.
Hiking felt like a physical manifestation of what I’d been going through. The difficult, relentless push against a difficult opponent. The reward for keeping on, the endorphin hit and sense of achievement on reaching that trig point or cairn.
Walking up the fells allows me time to reflect and enjoy hours of fresh air, it’s just so good for the mind.
My commitment to the cause has wavered in the past 12 months as lethargy was given an opportunity to rekindle its settlement. But I know the pathway now and although it is still an uphill struggle, the pinnacle point is just as sweet.
It wasn’t easy when I first began, it was hard work even on the smaller fells, but that feeling of getting to the summit and looking down on all the lakes below was just fantastic and motivated me to do more.
As a lifelong foodie, I also like to ensure I have high-quality pack-ups with me to accompany the views. I initially started pre-preparing quite extravagant packed lunches to take hiking and then someone suggested I get a stove and start cooking the meals from scratch out in the hills!
I’m completely self-taught but I have always loved cooking from a very young age. I used to cook with my grandmother and from the age of 10 and I’ve studied cookbooks and cooking shows rather religiously.
I began sharing my culinary creations and adventures online in 2017 and soon captured people’s imaginations, using a stove and simple ingredients to create hearty but delicious meals.
After being sober for two years in 2018, I decided to share my story with all my followers, including how I had lived with mental health issues and struggled with alcohol, the outpouring of support was fantastic and it inspired me to do more, create more content and speak more openly.
I like having the purpose of sharing my story to help others and, of course, it’s wonderful to get to spend so much time in the mountains and inspire people to do the same.
I’m 31 now, and I love what I do, I wouldn’t change it for the world.