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Gilly McArthur

Welcome to my website.

Hi there - I'm Gilly - illustrator, rock climber and wild swimmer. I generally prefer to communicate through my drawings, but as you're here to learn a little more about me, I best pull my finger out and write some words!

My passions lie in the outdoors and encouraging others to find their place in it. Originally from the North of Scotland, I take a lot of my inspiration from my surroundings. I now live in the Lake District (where a lot of friends joke I live in the lake), and am very partial to barefoot wanderings, beautiful trees and meditation.

Having worked in the outdoor industry for over 20 years, the outdoors is as much my profession as it is my pastime. I am the co-founder of Blue Mind Swim and a director of the Women's Trad Festival.

The Women's Trad Festival is a rock climbing community and festival formed on the values of mental wellbeing, accessibility and sustainability. It's in it's 5th year and in 2020 we launched a project called "Climbers Like Me" - aimed to celebrate and champion the diverse faces and voices within the climbing community.

I'm part of the team at Wonderful Wild Women in Cumbria, we aim to inspire others to get outside and the community welcomes anyone of any ability to give things a go be that running, biking, swimming or hiking.

Blue Mind Swim was inspired by my love of swimming over winter in high up tarns and hunting for ice with a few hardy friends (not the most common of 'hobbies'!). This takes the form of a bi-monthly session, coaching and mentoring those keen to discover cold water skin (no wetsuit) swimming and the benefits it has on mental wellbeing.

When it comes to drawing, illustrating people, the outdoors environment and made-up creatures are my forteā€¦ Though I have been known to draw brains for meditation publications, safety posters for businesses, and bicycles. I love the variety of my work - just don't ask me to draw a horse... I'm still hopeless!

Hopefully, that gives you a flavour of me. On this website, you'll find plenty more - from BBC radio recordings to popular podcasts; climbing and swimming films; the latest from the Women's Trad Festival; articles I've written in a host of magazines and my illustrations.

Once you've had a nosey - if you'd like to know more or get in touch, drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Instagram.


Swim a Day - January 2021

Swim a Day - January 2021Every year I swim every day in January for charity and this year is no different.

I have partnered with Crisis and a team of seasoned winter swimmers and will be swimming every day for the homeless charity Crisis.

The January Daily Dip is not a heroic sporting challenge. It's a daily vigil into the cold to remember and raise awareness that far too many people don't have the security of a lovely warm home.

Follow the progress over on instagram and if you have any spare change the just giving page is here!

Donate: justgiving.com/fundraising/­januarydailydip21