Earlier this month I completed my Year of Microadventure – a year of enjoying the outdoors. Here’s how it went:
Starting small was a good idea, especially in January. I had a warm dinner at home before tucking my sleeping bag and sleeping mat in a unconspicous bag and headed for my local park. I slept relatively well but was woken up a few times by the cold. It was only in the morning that I realised it had been much colder than I had thought. The vegetation, my bag, my shoes, and everything else around me was glittering under the headtorch. It was mesmerising and in spite of being frozen, I couldn’t help but smile.
Of backgardens and birds
I had grand plans for my second microadventure but I sprained my ankle at the end of January and found myself unable to trek very far. So I opted for a night in my backgarden. It was like being a child again when your garden is a world of its own. This time I took the tent but still got very cold.
A foray into the woods
This was my first proper microadventure of the year. I planned my location in advance and had to take a train out of London to reach the woods. This was the month I truly got addicted to wild camping. I was not far from the city but I was still able to submerge myself in nature, forget my worries, and wake up to the songs of birds.
By April I knew I was going to walk a bit of the Camino de Santiago later in the year and I wanted to do some preparations. After some googling, I discovered that the Vanguard Way would take me from London to the coast. So I made the most of the bank holidays and wandered south. Although the weather and scenery were very different between this walk and the Camino de Santiago, the Vanguard Way prepared me well for what was to come in July.
The previous month I had suffered the beginning of an injury on the Vanguard Way and had to give up before the end. So in May, I went back to the trail and walked to the coast. It felt like coming back to a friend, one that had blossomed into life. The vegetation was overflowing on the paths and everything around me was green.
June has some of the longest days of the year so I decided to try a 5 to 9 microadventure in the middle of the week. I headed out of town after work and walked for a long while before settling in under the shade of trees for the night. I felt I had left my normal world behind and had entered a world of fairytales and wanderers.
This was it, the Camino de Santiago. I had waited months for this trip to finally arrive and it did not disappoint. I meandered in the paths of France with a friend and together we suffered the heat of the sun but mostly we had a lot of fun catching up on our lives, gossiping and discovering an unfamiliar part of our birth country.
Moment of zen
I didn’t actually wild camp that month. I had been spending so much time outside already that when the end of the month arrived, it was a shock to realise I had not gone wild camping. I did however try my hand at making a video for the first time.
I met up in Rye with Pete (with whom I’d been chatting on Twitter) and we cycled to Dungeness. We discovered a surreal landscape made of pebbles, black houses, and nuclear power stations. It was odd to be lulled to sleep by the engines of a nuclear station but wonderful to witness a sky full of stars.
Walking the Lyke Wake Walk
I joined Jenni and Zoe from the Outdoor Blogger Network in the north of England for a crossing of the North Yorkshire Moors. Once again I did not wild camp (we had booked a B&B) but didn’t feel like I’d missed a microadventure. We trudged through the moors, clocking 20 miles each day in unfamiliar grounds, and were treated to the brightest fall colours.
I missed this month entirely. The best I managed was an hour walk in the Irish countryside (on small roads), and a walk around a village in France. I used business as an excuse not to get out and paid for it in stress.
A cycle tour in Kent
I went out to explore Kent along Sustrans routes from Tunbridge Wells to Ramsgate. I ended up spending three days grinning like an idiot, and found out that in between motorways, Eurostars, ferries, and seaside resorts Kent has a very peaceful and beautiful countryside.
All in all it has been a successful Year of Microadventure. It got me out of the door and built a habit of escaping London at least once a month. But most of all, it allowed me to meet like-minded people, start new friendships, and build a confidence in my outdoor skills I didn’t have. I still have a lot to learn but I no longer fear bivvying (I can even sleep reasonably well most times) and I can read maps again. So thank you Alastair Humphreys for starting such a great challenge. I am very much looking forward to another Year of Microadventure in 2016.