Life is an Adventure – Karen Darke – UK

karen darke Empowered Womens stories

Life is an Adventure – Karen Darke – UK

Becoming paralysed in a rock-climbing accident at age 21 left me facing a choice. I, as an active soul and a lover of the outdoors, I could sit around and feel miserable about my new situation, or I could face up to it. I could try and make the most of my new circumstances, and focus on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t.

Since then, I have pursued alternative ways to access the outdoors – canoeing, sit-skiing and hand-cycling. I have been lucky to hand-cycle in various corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalaya, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago, New Zealand, parts of Europe and shortly, the length of Chile’s Patagonian wilderness. Thanks to many good friends and acquaintances, life has become one giant adventure; from sea kayaking along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, skiing across the Greenland icecap, climbing the kilometre-high vertical rock-face of El Capitan, and kayaking through the fjords of Patagonia. I have adopted the philosophy that to learn the most from life we should challenge our constraints, adopt a positive mindset and support each other to be the best we can be.

The night before I was paralysed, I commented to a friend “I would rather be dead than paralysed. I can’t imagine anything worse”. How wrong could I have been? We are all stronger than we might think, braver than we might believe, more able than we might feel. It is only when life forces us to have to find those inner resources that they have the chance to appear.

More recently, life has led me to a Paralympic journey with the British Cycling Team, a silver medal in the London Paralympics 2012 and a gold in Rio 2016. I fit other wilderness adventures in when I can – the healing power of nature is something that feels important to me, especially to rebalance after hard or stressful times in life.

What is life if it isn’t an adventure? I’m constantly amazed by what can be achieved if we set our heart and mind to it. It’s all about finding belief, confidence, motivation and commitment. And of course, friends. Then there are perhaps no limits.

About the Author:

Karen Darke is a British Paralympic cyclist, Paratriathlete, adventurer, author and motivational speaker. She is a full-time athlete with the British Para-Cycling Team and squeezes adventures in where possible between training and other work.

To contact Karen:


Her first book “If You Fall” tells the story of her accident, adapting to being paralysed, and some early adventures. The second, “Boundless” is about her adventures in Greenland and climbing El Capitan. Both are available at

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Karen Darke for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.