Short, sharp, sweet ways to press your refresh button
Are you staring out the kitchen window, wrist deep in dirty dishes, wishing you had enough money/time/guts to do something exciting and adventurous?
Are you sneakily Googling ‘Top Ten Adventure Destinations’ at the office when you should be working on that next report, but you’ve used up all your leave for the year?
Maybe what you need is a micro-adventure. Or is it microadventure? Or maybe even MicroAdventure (any editors please let us know which is optimal; it’s not yet in the Oxford Dictionary).
What is a microadventure?
This is ‘an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.’*
Microadventure is a term that was coined by Alastair Humphreys, an English adventurer who wrote the bestselling book ‘Microadventures’ because he was ‘trying to squeeze the biggest adventure (he) could out of little old Britain’. It earned him the National Geographic accolade of ‘Adventurer of the Year’ in 2011.
It’s a concept that has captured the imaginations of ordinary people, who are peeling themselves off couches, grabbing backpacks, a friend or a family member and heading off outside their comfort zones. They’re catching trains straight from work and finding country roads to walk, farm fields to cycle through and hilltops to sleep on.
What you need to bring
There is no special equipment involved, just an open mind. No bookings to be made, just a date with your curiosity. No vacation leave to take, just those ’16 glorious free hours between leaving work at 5pm and returning the next morning at 9am.’*
Some ideas for your own microadventure
Wilderness Now is curating some exciting microadventures of our own (just s handful ready), so in the meantime, here are some ideas for ones that are short and sweet, cheap and uncomplicated. More ideas on Alastair’s website(or you can buy his book)… But don’t take our word for it, take advantage of our lovely long summer nights and make up your own!
• Sleep in your garden
• Swim wild — in a river, lake or sea
• Sleep by the sea
• Sleep under a full moon
• Spot a shooting star
• Sleep out on a snowy night
• Get there by bike
• Get there on foot
• Paddle a river — by canoe or tractor inner tube
• Learn to identify a new bird or new tree each month
• Forage for your food, or at least pick some blackberries
If you want to get inspired or book some microadventures to go wild with friends, family or by your own just click and go!
Where to go if you’re based in London?
What Alastair Humphreys suggests:
- From Marylebone, take the train to Wendover. (48 min). Head along the Wendover Arm Canal, down the Icknield Way or into the Wendover Woods. Or go mountain biking at Aston Hill.
- From Paddington, take the train to Henley-on-Thames. (60 min) Follow the Thames path either upstream or downstream. Head for Remenham Wood. Or go armed with a packraft and you could paddle back to London!
- From Victoria, take the train to Otford (45 mins) and explore the woodlands high up to the east of the village.
What Will Parsons, author of ‘A Walk Around Britain’ suggests:
Catch a train out of the city and walk the 17-mile section of the ancient North Downs Way that ends at Canterbury Cathedral. ‘It isn’t about religion for me,’ says Will Parsons. ‘But at 5:30 pm every day there’s a free concert of world-class choral music; the whole place is built for sound and vibrations. And after a hard day’s walking, you’ll vibrate with it.’
Daniel Start, author of ‘Wild Swimming’, recommends wild swimming in Frensham Great Pond, Farnham. It’s a shallow lake with two natural sandy beaches. Find it 5 miles south of Farnham (A287).
Is it safe?
And here are some words on safety for women planning a solo microadventure, from Elise Downing, a writer and solo runner.
‘With regards to wild camping, I think it’s about differentiating between real and perceived risks. Being alone in your tent might feel a bit spooky but really there’s very little chance of anybody else being around. Just be careful about it though, e.g. if I’m ducking off the road or trail to go and find a camp spot, I do so when I know nobody else can see me, rather than when a car is going past. I also don’t have a live tracking map and try not to be too specific about my location online (until I’ve left the place).’**
What some microadventurers have said:
“I slept really well for being in a bag in a field…”
“I’ve never done this before, so it’s a story that I’ll only tell tomorrow, but probably for the rest of my life really. I know it’s just sleeping outside for one night, but it’s pretty crazy for somebody like me.”
“Do everything once. If it sucks, don’t do it again. If it’s really cool, then you’ve found a new love.”
* Alastair Humphreys: www.alastairhumphreys.com
** Elise Downing: www.elisedowning.com