Activities, Destinations, Issue 9

How to…. have a microadventure

Adventurer, author and speaker Alastair Humphreys is a pioneer of the microadventure: a short, achievable outdoor trip. Whether that involves a tent in the back garden or a quick night away, he promotes the fact that microadventures are for everyone – there’s no age barrier. We caught up with the man himself to get his advice on how you can have your own.

What is a microadventure? 

A microadventure is an adventure that is short, simple, local and cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding. As the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanised, busy and stuck in front of screens, microadventures offer a realistic escape to wilderness, simplicity and the great outdoors, without the need to ski to the South Pole or go live in a cabin in Patagonia. The appeal of microadventures is that they make adventure accessible to people who may have very little outdoor experience. Microadventures are a refresh button for busy lives.

How do I find a location for a microadventure? 

All that’s required is a map, a train timetable and some open-minded thinking. It also helps to get into the habit of continually evaluating places as potential campsites. If you know roughly where you want to go, buy an Ordnance Survey map.

How do I have a midweek adventure? 

You work from 9 to 5, but what about the 5 to 9? There are 16 hours of freedom. Make a cup of tea, look at a map and find somewhere rural you’ve never been. Pack a bag and go for it! Climb a hill with a friend or two, sleep on the top, and be back at your desk by 9am the next morning, crumpled but happy.

Where are some of your favourite place wild places? 

Symond’s Yat Rock. An idyllic, peaceful look-out over the River Wye, woodland, fields, and the best of rural England.

King Henry’s Mound, Richmond Park, London. Northerners in particular may howl indignantly at the daftness of including London in this list. But this hidden, quiet spot is a gem. The perfect, uninterrupted view through a gap in the trees all the way across to St Paul’s Cathedral is protected by law. I love the fact that even in London people realise that the visual landscape is important.

New Forest. I love the tranquility of forests, the changing light, and the way they look so different across the seasons. Britain has a dearth of woodland, but there are pockets of the New Forest that are beautiful.

A few microadventure ideas…

  • Sleep in your garden
  • Swim wild – in a river, lake or sea
  • Tick off some themes: river, hill, mountain, beach, wood…
  • Take a child for their first microadventure
  • Go solo
  • Go with a friend
  • Go with a family member
  • Do one on a work night
  • Make a cup of tea on a stove you’ve made yourself
  • Sleep by the sea (nobody in the UK lives more than 70 miles from the sea)
  • Sleep under a full moon
  • Try to spot a shooting star
  • Sleep out below 0 degrees Celsius
  • Put your own spin on the 12×12 challenge: 12 beaches, 12 Munros, 12 rude place names, 12 counties, 12 different friends…
  • 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
  • Do one on Mothers’ Day / Fathers’ Day
  • Go on your birthday
  • Go with some random people you meet online via #microadventure.
  • Take a novice friend on their birthday
  • Sleep out on a snowy night
  • Sleep somewhere local but new to you
  • Do something that is challenging to you but achievable today (e.g. a ride or walk to a bivvy spot which is hard – but do-able right now)
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