Steve Hughes

Steve Hughes is a Chartered Financial Planner, Director and Co-founder at Five Wealth Ltd. He provides independent financial planning advice to businesses and individuals, helping them to identify and achieve their goals.

Steve specialises in ethical and socially responsible investments for clients – but this approach isn’t just limited to the workplace. Fuelled by his passion for improving financial education among young people, Steve takes time out to deliver workshops to schoolchildren to help prepare them for adult life. 

Steve used to run in the hills but, through Freshwalks, has rediscovered his love of the outdoors – preferring nowadays to smell the roses and let someone else take the lead at a more sedate pace. Get to know Steve a little better on his LinkedIn profile here, or on an upcoming walk!

Tell us about your first Freshwalks.

It was Glossop to Bleaklow. I’d done a bit of running over the years but not really hiked or explored the Peak District before. I had a pair of walking shoes that I’d bought in 2010 for a trek abroad and they’d not been out the box since.

The walk was so relaxing. Having someone else leading took away all the effort.

We arrived back in old Glossop, had some pub grub, and chatted into the evening. Strangers acting like old acquaintances. The group atmosphere afterwards was really positive and life-affirming.

How many have you attended?

I’ve lost count. I initially turned up to discover some decent walking routes and get a bit fitter. I’ve been going back ever since.

Why do you come back?

The people – It’s a really good bunch and a genuine community. Everyone is generous with their time and willing to share their knowledge and expertise. I always come away with a good idea or a new perspective on life or business. 

The scenery – There are some stunning routes and epic views. 

The digital detox – We’re constantly plugged in, worrying about or anticipating the next notification. I find it quite cathartic to turn off for a few hours and connect with people and nature. 

What’s your favourite route?

I love going up Grindsbrook Clough to Kinder Downfall but I’d plump for the Hathersage-Stanage Edge route. The post-walk option to jump in the water at Hathersage lido makes it unique. It’s perfect for any aching muscles, plus there’s an inflatable obstacle course for your inner child.

The something you always bring?

Smiles and shorts – rain or shine.

Favourite Freshwalks memory?

A dawn climb from Edale whilst the world slept. Some people came who had quite personal reasons for being there on that day, and so there was just a poignancy to it.

Watching the sunrise in silence, present in your own thoughts but sharing the experience with others was quite special.

How has Freshwalks helped your business?

Many ways. I’ve developed some really good relationships and been able to help people by connecting them with Freshwalkers. I’ve also benefitted directly getting new ideas, introductions and client work from conversations in the hills.

My stock answer though is that the walks help me first and foremost. They help me become more grounded, reflective and relaxed. I then operate better in my business and at home. 

Recommend three people you have met on Freshwalks.

Too hard. I’d struggle to pick just three and exclude others.

I will, however, give a special nod to Michael Di Paola. I’ve not come across anyone more passionate about helping and connecting business people in and around Manchester.

How does Freshwalks challenge typical networking formats?

There are no business cards, no elevators and no Utah Saints (‘what can you do for me’) types! The people genuinely want to help and give.

There is business being done but, to be honest, I’ve never regarded Freshwalks as networking. I guess that, in a nutshell, answers the question.

Freshwalks is a combination of exercise, networking, sharing knowledge and thinking time. How do you balance those components?

Unconsciously. It just flows. 

You’re walking and naturally move across the group and get involved in different conversations. At times, you drift into your own world and simply take in the views. There is a vast experience and knowledge available within the groups and it gets shared but there is absolutely no pressure to offer anything. That’s why it works.

Suggest one new place for us to go.

Assuming Chile is a non-starter, how about Conwy.

Sum up Freshwalks in three words.

Natural. Invigorating. Rewarding.

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