Katie Tunn – Buffalo Systems Brand Ambassador
WELCOME Katie Tunn as our newest brand ambassador to the Buffalo Systems family, Katie is an artist, writer, adventurer and marine conversationalist living in the Isle of Skye on the Scottish North West Coast.
We are all immensely proud to have her as part of our small Sheffield based team. We caught up with Katie to ask her a few questions on her life, work, and adventure plans for the upcoming year! Enjoy the read, for more info on Katie you can follow her on social media or through her website www.katietunn.com
Hello Katie – From all of the Sheffield team……Welcome to Buffalo Systems! We are all incredibly excited and proud to have you on board as the newest member to our brand ambassadors family.
When did you first come across Buffalo Systems and what was it about our clothing that you loved?
I first came across the mountain shirts whilst in the Officer Training Corps at university (a very long time ago!). Some of the older cadets and officers lent out their “buffs” to those of us who got particularly chilly whilst out on exercise.
Somehow the Buffalo name must have got stuck somewhere in my psyche because a decade later, when I was prepping to spend a year living off-grid on the Scottish West Coast (for the reality tv show, ‘Eden’) I thought, “I need something extra warm, I’ll get a Buffalo shirt!”
We were given a small budget for outdoor clothing and it was important to me that I spent mine on an independent British brand.
What’s your favorite item from the Buffalo range and why?
I adore my Women’s Mountain Shirt.
When I spend time off-grid or bivvying it’s the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night (although if it’s snowing or frosty I’ll often wear it whilst sleeping too!)
It comes with me on every major adventure, it makes me smile to remember the places it’s been with me and what it’s seen.
That’s amazing – so many memories can be rekindled when you look at a much loved Buffalo. Can you tell the reader’s, what was your inspiration for moving out of the hustle of London to a quiet island life on Skye?
I’ve always been a nature-lover at heart. Although I loved London, I wanted something else from my surroundings as I moved towards the end of my twenties. I craved natural spaces and wanted to spend time next to the ocean (I began marine conservation campaigning in London and it’s I still believe it’s just as vital there – everything eventually leads to the sea, even me, I guess!)
I hadn’t originally intended to stay here on Skye. I had planned to spend a winter here; to get a breather from city life. Then the years rolled by and now this island is home.
Wow – I think a lot of people in today’s world can relate to what you experienced. Can you explain what aspects of Island life do you enjoy the most?
There are so many varied aspects of island life that I enjoy; from the world-class wildlife to the close community of unique and wonderful people.
But perhaps the most exciting part, for me, is that the colours and light are ever-changing. Perhaps it’s my background as an artist that feeds into this.
I live on the shore and no two days are ever the same… The sea can be any colour from pale turquoise, slate grey or peaty brown from river run-off. The surface can be glassy-smooth, stippled by wind or have booming waves that throw saltwater at my windows. And then there’s the skies with rainbows, clouds, auroras or mists. It’s almost theatrical in its drama.
You work for a wide variety of organisations including the British Divers Marine Life Rescue team and Surfers Against Sewage which must be incredibly rewarding. What positive impacts/changes have you experienced while working with the different teams?
I’m really happy to say that I’ve seen a huge change in public attitude since I first began volunteering.
When I organised my first Surfers Against Sewage beach clean (about a decade ago) it was considered an unusual thing to do. Talking about the plastic problem was unheard of outside a relatively small group of ocean-lovers; we were kind-of weird. Now everyone is aware of it, companies are making changes and consumers are trying to make better choices.
Similarly, as a society we’re learning about things such as overfishing and about how practices like dolphin captivity are unacceptable.
With all that said, awareness is just the start and putting our knowledge into practice is the huge hurdle that we’re only just recognising.
Often it can seem overwhelming, there is just so much damage still being done, but it’s important to recognise the progress and keep hoping and trying.
Thanks Katie, What advise would you give younger generations that are experiencing wilderness adventures for the first time?
There’s a Roald Dahl quote that I love:
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
I try to remember it when out on adventures. The more you stop, watch and wait, the more you’ll see. A rockpool is a great example of this; you’ll notice a few things at first but if you wait quietly for a minute or two you’ll see things start to emerge -little fish, shrimp and crabs.
Try to notice small things and remember senses other than sight, such as smell, touch and sound.
Once you learn to look more closely you’ll discover so much more. The future of the natural world is also the future of our young people and the more closely connected we are to it the easier it is to love it and want to protect it.
That is an amazing quote! Taking me right back to my childhood reading.
What three areas of conservation would you like individuals and families to nurture when exploring the great outdoors?
Living on Skye I’m lucky enough to see two sides of a situation; both as a resident/conservationist and secondly as a visitor who just never really left!
First of all, I’d like everyone visiting anywhere to learn to leave no trace. Most of us wouldn’t dream of dropping litter but there are other ways that we leave marks on natural spaces… Leaving scorch marks from campfires, discarding loo paper/human waste and moving rocks all negatively impact the natural environment. Aim to leave every place as you find it but, if you can, why not make it better by taking a handful of litter with you when you come across it too.
Secondly, it’s worth remembering that many places that seem ‘wild’ aren’t really wild at all. Places may seem quiet and expansive but in reality these areas are home to working communities who often visit these fields, forests or coasts every day. This is why it’s extra important to clean up after yourself, not park at access gates, keep dogs on leads when asked, etc.
Lastly, get involved! Volunteer to help with beach cleans, help with butterfly or bird counts, visit sanctuaries or pay to go whale-watching with a WISE-accredited tour boat. The more you get involved the more you’ll learn and see. Doing these things helps with citizen science and (like whale-watching) can give us an economic reason to protect the environment in an enjoyable way.
What’s been your most memorable adventure? And what were the strongest lessons you have taken away from it?
This is a tricky question to answer because all my adventures have been so completely different to me!
Spending a year off-grid for reality telly was perhaps the most extraordinary one with the most memories. From that I learned how to be resilient and to be grateful for the solace and beauty that nature gives us. When I felt homesick or overwhelmed it was the natural world that gave me distraction and joy -even when it was a tiny woodland creature stealing my breakfast!
When I spent almost 40 days castaway on the Shiant Isles I learned a lot too. That adventure reminded me how vibrant and interconnected the wild world is and how important these habitats are. As humans we dominate our environments but, in reality, we are just part of something much more important.
Your Island 82 challenge is currently on pause due to the pandemic. Can you tell us all a little more about this project, what it entails, it’s main themes and when you hope to restart to adventure?
Launching #82Islands feels like a world away post-lockdown but I feel like it has also made the main aim more important than ever.
Back in 2019, Ordnance Survey (who I work closely with) created a poster with Sheffield University featuring all 82 of Great Britain’s largest islands. It featured my home, Skye, as well as many islands I know well or have always wanted to visit.
I’m always struck by how unique and varied each island is, in terms of community, flora and fauna, history and culture. Yet, with ‘bucket list’ tourism becoming more popular, some of these places are struggling with overtourism and visitors are missing out on some of the most interesting aspects of the places we visit.
With experience of the booming tourist industry on Skye I wanted to visit each island and find out how we can not only ‘Leave No Trace’ but actually be beneficial to the places we visit.
That said, I can’t pretend that I won’t be enjoying it immensely!
Originally I was going to do four things on each island: spend a night sleeping under the stars in a bivvy bag, create a piece of artwork, go for a wild swim and do a litter pick/beach clean.
I had visited about 16 island before the pandemic meant I had to pause the project because of the pandemic.
I’m now looking at November as my date to restart. There will be a few changes post-lockdown; perhaps the biggest is that I’ll no longer look to only wild camp. Bivvying is one of my favourite things and is a great way to connect to the landscape you’re in but I think now is the time that communities need financial support in terms of hospitality, B&Bs etc. Maybe I could do a bit of both.
Whatever happens, I’m so excited to finally get back to exploring a little further afield.
Thanks Katie for chatting to our team – we are all so proud to have you on board. We will keep you all updated on Katie’s #82Island Challenge when things kick off again. Keep an eye on our news feed and social media channels.