How Travel Challenged my Fear of Edges

Standing precariously on top of a pile of rocks, sucking in my core for every ounce of rigidity, I froze with a smile as my Dad slowly pressed the shutter down below. “JUST TAKE THE PICTURE” I screamed through my grin, arms stretched out with the wind hammering against me.

Despite my collection of photographs where I’m casually dangling off cliffs and standing on great heights, my fear of edges is always one that has tested me.

Exploring Exmoor National Park; Bossington, Selworthy & Dunster

Just recently I was ticking off the must-see sights in Hamburg when I came across the Old Elbe Tunnel, a half a mile stretch under the river that was built over a hundred years ago. Finally coming across the entrance after investigating the harbour for a good 15 minutes, I hastily pushed through a swinging door. On the other side, my confidence diminished, immediately stopping in my tracks, as little more than a thin gaping metal barrier stood between me and 24 metres of dark, dingy space. To get to the bottom I could join a long line for the lift, or take the winding set of stairs that floated out into the open. Impatiently, I chose to deep breathe my way down, clutching to the edge whilst cautiously stepping onto the metal grates one at a time.

I’m not sure where this fear originates from. I’ve never nearly fallen, I’ve never seen anyone tumble from an edge… it just gives me the heeby jeebys.

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When I was about 7 years old on a family trip to the Isle of Wight we were visiting some sort of castle, following a tour group around the site before we gathered around a brick well. This memory is as clear as day, little me standing by its edge where an inquisitive tourist asked “why is it covered with a wire grate?” Only then when the guide began to tell a story of how a small boy had once fell down, stuck at the bottom until they could rescue him, did I start to edge away.

Maybe that kicked it off, or maybe it’s just one of those scary childhood memories that’s stayed with me, but you won’t find me peering down a well.

And before you ask, no it’s not a fear of heights. One place it regularly creeps in is at British seaside piers. You know the kind, where the concrete walkway just drops straight into the ocean with kids sitting on the edge, dipping in their crab lines to catch a shelled beast. When my brother and sister were little, this used to terrify me. I’d be there, having a mini heart attack whilst their tiny toddler legs unsteadily ran past the sheer drop to the sea.

How Travel Challenged my Fear of Edges

So no, it’s not a heights thing. Airplanes, rooftops, skyscraper views, I’ll lean over the edge with my camera without a care in the world. As long as there’s a wall that goes past my waist I feel safe knowing that I won’t spill over.

But as soon as I’m high up out in the open, without anything keeping me upright, my stomach starts to jump around. It’s a fear that I’ve challenged on quite a few occasions, most of them involving precariously balanced rocks that stick out over sharp cliffs and forests down below.

But there’s no way that I’m not getting that photograph. Yosemite, Exmoor, Thailand, the Grand Canyon… as long as I stay seated I can just about bum shuffle my way to the edge without having a panic attack, just long enough to grin and throw my hands in the air whilst my brain is screaming “FUCK! SHIT ME! GET ME OFF THIS THING”.

hiking yosemite mist trail

Weirdly I’m not scared of rides. I get the last minute adrenaline rush when I’m strapped into my seat, but primarily my screams are full of excitement and laughter rather than sheer fear. My favourite ride in the world is Disney’s Tower of Terror. Every time it has me in hysterics as I’m thrown up and down with little more than a seat belt. I also managed to get through Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit without so much as a few curse words. The upward vertical climb had me swearing to baby Jesus and even meditating for about 5 seconds before I opened my eyes and screamed my way around.

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With that being said, there has been an incident where I have completely had a panic melt down on a ride.

Meet the Big Shot, the 160 foot ride ON TOP of an 1149 foot tower. The Stratosphere in Las Vegas is known to be crowned with what most people call, the “hell fucking no am I going on that” scariest rides in the world. Now when I’m on my travels I’m never normally one to turn down an experience, I don’t want to miss out on anything no matter how ridiculous. But I happily turned down two of these rides; a dangling spinning wheel, with nothing but air between you and a life-threatening drop, and a catapulting carriage that projects you out over the edge. Nah thanks.

How Travel Challenged my Fear of Edges

How Travel Challenged my Fear of Edges

Instead I went for what I considered to be the least terrifying of the three, Big Shot. I was wrong. I literally almost shat myself.

Just getting up onto the observation deck had me turning back. This shit was high. And outdoors. There weren’t many barriers. As I joined a non-existent queue I started to tremble, my hands began to get pins and needles, and as I got myself into the seat I really begun freaking out. I was sweating, crying, and as I became encased in the bit of equipment that was stopping me from flinging to my death… I lost all feeling in my arms. I genuinely think I had a panic attack.

The ride shot us up in the air as I went rigid, eyes shut, not evening bringing myself to open my mouth to scream. I think I peeked for about 0.4 seconds at the view before I closed my eyes again, being thrown down to the bottom at 43 miles an hour.

It was adrenaline at its worst but it tested a fear that I realised I can conquer.

How Travel Challenged my Fear of Edges

That’s the thing about travelling. You constantly find yourself in places that you know you might not come to again, and that if you do it will be different, the situation will never be the same. So when you’re faced with an opportunity that requires facing a fear, your only choice is to take a deep breath, wipe away a tear and do it.

I might have been the girl that cried, hyperventilated and probably peed a little on the Big Shot. But I’d rather be her than the one that didn’t do it.

This post was written as a part of the monthly travel linkup. If you have an idea around 'travel fears and scares', just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st - 7th August 2017), add it to the link up widget found on SilverSpoon LondonFollow Your SunshineAdventures of a London Kiwi or on the blog of our lovely guest host Maggie at Planes & Champagne from the 1st.

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18 Comments

    • 9th August 2017 / 12:54 pm

      No I haven’t… I’m not sure I could! Maybe if they strapped me in haha

  1. 8th August 2017 / 12:31 pm

    So incredible that you’ve overcome your fear of edges, love how this post is intermixed with tons of photos of you doing exactly what you are afraid of 🙂 I have a bit of fear of edges as well, which I realized last year at Preikestolen in Norway. I was completely fine until I got up to the edge and realized I was shaking and couldn’t move any further!

    • 8th August 2017 / 5:02 pm

      Thanks Sarah! It is really testing isn’t it! The things we do haha 🙂 x

  2. 7th August 2017 / 9:26 am

    Good on you!! I’m exactly the same!!

    • 8th August 2017 / 10:10 am

      Thanks love, go us!!

  3. 6th August 2017 / 7:56 pm

    You are so brave Eppie!! Given that you don’t like dangling over the edge, you have some pretty impressive photos 🙂 !! I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of heights either xx

    • 8th August 2017 / 10:09 am

      Aw thanks Maggie! I think if I just hold my breath I can cope with it for the time it takes to get the photo! x

  4. 5th August 2017 / 10:30 am

    I’ve always said I have a fear of heights but you are right that most of it is a fear of edges where there is a drop. Even if it’s just a few feet. I can enjoy ferris wheels, cable cars, little 4-seat plane flights, even hot air balloons. But ask me to walk along a cliff path, go down stairs without a bannister or stand near the edge where there’s no a solid and reassuring barrier and I start wobbling!

    • 8th August 2017 / 10:07 am

      I’m exactly the same!! I’ve never been in a hot air balloon to be fair so not sure how that would go down but I hope I’d enjoy it!

  5. 4th August 2017 / 1:53 pm

    OMG lady, you are my hero. I have no clue how you did the Stratosphere in LV. I am terrified of height!!!! xx

    • 8th August 2017 / 10:06 am

      Haha I have no idea how I did it either… it was HORRIBLE xx

  6. 2nd August 2017 / 8:38 pm

    Oh my goodness those rides sound terrifying! You’re much braver than me! I don’t mind heights too much but I don’t like being near the edge either x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

  7. Lauren
    2nd August 2017 / 7:59 pm

    That’s amazing that despite your fear you’ve never let it hold you back. Looking at all your pictures is giving me so much envy, you’ve seen some gorgeous sights!

    And congrats on your Bloggers Blog Award nomination. This is my first time visiting your blog but I love it already! Keep up the great work 🙂

    Lauren | Lauren the Daydreamer

    • 3rd August 2017 / 9:39 am

      Hey Lauren! Thank you, yeah I had to just push myself, but its worth it!

      Thank you so much, I’m honestly over the moon 🙂 x

  8. 2nd August 2017 / 12:41 am

    I’m actually the same with edges… there’s that fear of not having something concrete to hold on to that makes me queasy!

    • 3rd August 2017 / 9:40 am

      Yeah exactly, like any minute I could just topple over… but hey how likely is that going to happen 😉

  9. 1st August 2017 / 6:16 pm

    This is a fear of mine – you are braver than me #travellinkup

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