At the time of writing the national lockdown Part 2 has just been announced (probably well underway when this goes out), and us outdoor lovers are prepping ourselves for the long dark nights and restricted travel options. We believe that with the onset of a challenging winter ahead of us we need to plan some mini adventures in order to get our outdoor fix whilst staying local and keeping safe in these interesting times.
The definition of a mini adventure? To us it means that little bit more. Its more than just a hike when you throw in a wild swim or a wild camp, its an adventure that will leave you glowing from within. Usually crammed into a day or over the weekend (check current government guidelines for overnighters), exploring somewhere new, or doing something different is good for the soul. A break from the norm to us is an adventure and no huge amount of time planning or great travel itinerary is required.
It would be so easy to lock ourselves away during the coming months, however, from personal experience we can guarantee you that making time for the outdoors can not only improve mood, but will also give our health and wellbeing a much needed energy boost to keep the spirits up and ready to tackle just about anything life can throw at us at the moment.
So with more restrictions in place we are setting out our doorstep plan, to try and fit in as many mini adventures in our local area as possible. We hope some of these ideas will spark some inspiration and make you grab your boots for an hour, or an afternoon or maybe a whole day, its only ever going to be time well spent. All of our ideas are suitable for the lone ramblers amongst us or ways to get the kids involved. Whoever's in your support bubble, get them outside they will thank you afterwards, honest. No one ever regrets spending time outdoors.
The Hammock Life
We cannot recommend these things enough! Anyone who has followed our antics over these past few years will have no doubt seen us swinging in the trees, its our favourite past time. Nothing beats the horizontal view of swaying tree tops whilst you're levitating between two handsome old trees. Life really does slow down when your swinging in a tree.
Prepare in advance a hot flask of coffee, tea or hot soup of choice. Extra layers and some rolled up blankets to make your winter picnic just that bit more cosy. If you plan your walk to finish in a cluster of trees it will make for the perfect end to a winters hike. You'll know you've achieved optimum outdoor points when you have rosy cheeks and a tomato soup moustache.
A small hiking gas stove, a pot or pan, spoon or spork and you have the basic cooking set up. Cooking up a sausage butty and boiling a brew is as basic as it gets and a fine meal you can share outdoors. Many a banger has been sizzling whilst sat back taking in the views after a walk into our favourite wild spaces.
Don't get us wrong we've enjoyed many a flame grilled steak on our adventures, the beach cook up of steak and mushroom baguettes probably our most memorable feast to date. Whatever your meal of choice, be it a fine dining experience or a tin of chilli, think ahead to minimise what you pack in your rucksack and how you can easily carry any rubbish away with you.
Although we can think of no finer way to cook a meal than on an open fire, it really is a no go in our countryside without landowner permission, consider instead a firebox type stove, keeping flames contained and if used correctly cause minimum damage to our precious landscape. Most places in the UK have a 'no open flame or outdoor stove' ruling and understandably given the damage caused these past summers by inconsiderate users, so if seen will cause suspicion amongst fellow countryside users. Being respectful of others and of our countryside, a little common sense, thinking about safety at all times and a wild meal cooked outdoors can be achieved.
Always clean up afterwards, returning stones and logs you may have used. Leave no rubbish, leave no heat sources, leave no sign you were there. Leave No Trace!
This is the new hashtag everyone should be using and definitely something we will be actively seeking to make our own mark on. The recent documentary A Life On Our Planet by Sir David Attenborough made us even more aware of the plight of our precious planet and the time in which we have to help drive change. In short, we cannot singularly change the world, but we can change the part of the world that we inhabit. Starting from what's on our doorstep.
We have new found time on our hands to re-educate and adapt our own personal footprint on our own patch of this planet. We can look at our own recycling systems, local litter picking events, wildlife watching campaigns and surveys you can get involved in, all will make a difference and help monitor a wider problem. Hedgehogs! where did they go? how can we invite them back. For information and tips on how we can all make a small difference in a big world, check out the Rewilding Britain website, link below.
Get involved as much or as little as you would like to in your local conservation areas, but getting involved in some way is a step in the right way.
Teach yourself a new skill.
Forget the class room style learnings (don't tell the kids we said that obviously) grab a book on mushroom foraging and get outside! Whatever grabs your attention whilst out and about, if you've stood studying trees, caterpillars, local historical monuments for a dubious amount of time, but you've never known or understood what it is your admiring, then learn all about that! Become an expert and share your knowledge online, because the chances are we would all like to know the species of mushroom that we can add to our butty, without the need for urgent medical attention too!
We have the world at our fingertips and we can learn a new outdoor skill over the course of a weekend or at our own pace. Navigation, first aid, how to become a group walk leader, these are all things you can read up on and prepare yourself for, and maybe join a class when its safe to do so after restrictions.
YouTube is a constant resource for us, its taught me the basics of bushcraft skills that I want to advance with, and given Sam her aspirations for Mountain leadership. Watching and learning something that you are interested in may soon turn into something you are passionate about. Making a start is the first step, either self taught, a book or an online source, the possibilities are endless, make the most of the outdoors by spending the most time doing what you love! Just don't get too ahead of yourself and start testing the mushrooms just yet!
Build a den! Make a shelter.
I remember on the first lockdown when all the schools were closed, my local woodland became a haven for kids (no doubt climbing the walls, cooped up inside) as the days went by, more and more little dens and shelters popped up in and around the surrounding woodlands. This was great! I loved seeing them, I even sat myself down in one one one day and made myself a coffee.
Wooden structures of all different shapes and sizes, branches and foliage gathered and assembled in various forms all with one purpose, to deter enemy attacks, obviously! The one shelter that I did seek refuge in for my coffee was very professionally done, no doubt the work of a lockdown bush crafter feeling the pinch and resorting to local woodlands just in ear shot of the M1. We never did meet sir or madam, but I congratulate you on your craft, so expertly was this shelter I do believe it was built to withstand the apocalypse, it certainly felt it was coming back in March.
A simple lean to shelter made with what you find on the forest floor or a tarp set up of choice will keep you sheltered from the elements for the day, and even the night if you're remote enough and brave enough. Just don't chop or damage the trees, and dismantle your fine creation afterwards, it might hurt to see your master craftwork disassembled but as before - Leave No Trace.
Plan a future Adventure!
So this is not so much as finding mini adventures during lockdown, but more planning for future challenges ahead. But isn't planning part of the adventure? Winter nights have drawn in already, get cosy, make another brew, unfold the maps and start planning. What is it you plan to achieve? a list of future day hikes? a wild camp on a mountain top? or something bigger? whatever it is that's buzzing in your head, spend some luxury time pouring over your maps, consulting the guidebooks and mapping out your routes.
We find apps like OS route finder app an easy and helpful tool and can keep your routes saved for when you're ready for action.
Camera, Action! - Film your adventure.
Its surprising how many people ask us on our group walks how we film and edit our videos and how we got started. The editing part seems to put people off and so stops them from giving it a go.
The reason I brought my GoPro on that very first 'fateful 'walk me and Sam did was to document our day, to show our other friends and family what we got up to that day. That's what started the ball rolling. I clicked the record button throughout the day, went home, uploaded, strung the footage together, added music and uploaded it to a personal YouTube channel I had at the time, and that was it. The editing can be as fiddly as you want it to be. If film footage seems too daunting. start with a slideshow of photos put to music. The next time add in a little live footage with the photos and the more you use the editing software you'll learn as you go. Its how every YouTuber you subscribe to started.
You don't need expensive camera equipment and any camera with video capabilities will probably come with its own basic editing software or app download. Its a creative process that becomes addictive and each video you put together will get better as you learn to edit and string together film and photography.
We are far from professionals, but tips we can pass on to keep your videos engaging, is to keep the video clips short and steady, sometimes only a few seconds is needed to keep the video flowing. Imagine walking through a gate and walking across a field, the viewer does not need to see every step you take, just the motion of passing through the field and onto the next view point. Add titles and comments especially if you are not speaking to keep the viewer informed and engaged. And most importantly let your enthusiasm and personality come through, if you are passionate about your hike/camp/climb then it will shine through and motivate others to give it a go.
If it's to share with friends and family or you are inspired to start your own channel, starting an outdoors vlog can be a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend your time outdoors. It will motivate you to seek out new and informative places that you think are worth sharing, placing you in some amazing places that you wouldn't have imagined yourself visiting before your new vlog-venture.
Use the local lockdown to film your first video and see how people react to it. Let us know how it goes and we'll give it a thumbs up! Or maybe we will be your first subscriber!!
Winter Wild Camp
Ok, Winter camping is out of our comfort zone. literally!! And to be honest something we have never done in the colder months.. yet!
As with any wild camp the whole point of the camp is to find a remote, self isolated space to pitch up and sleep under the stars. The bonus is to awaken to an amazing sunrise (never a guarantee but fingers crossed). So this self isolating activity makes an ideal adventure at this moment in time and if you feel safe enough, somewhere tucked away maybe a little closer to home may be the option for now.
If you are new to wild camping but want to give it a go, the chances are you've already watched some wild campers in action and seen their kit reviews. Listen to the advice, its winter, buy the best you can afford for warmth and comfort and give yourself the best chance of an enjoyable experience. Take plenty of water or a water filter system to collect on the go, for hot drinks and check your gas supply. Wild camps can be undertaken with a variety of different sleep systems and set ups, for winter we'd probably stick with a tent but that's a matter of choice and dependent on your camp gear and kit.
Our favourite wild camper and fantastic YouTuber for giving honest kit reviews is Paul Messner.
Arrive at your chosen camp spot late, and leave early that way no-one will ever suspect you were snoring on that hillside. Try some Astro photography, or just sit back and watch the twinkling of lights in the distant land of civilisation. Be prepared for winter weather and let someone know roughly where you intend to head for the night.
Share Your Life's Joys
The next time you hear yourself despairing about how depressing Facebook is, how the doom and gloom is infiltrating through your Instagram, then ask yourself this, am I following the right people? We are addicted to our social media sites and believe they can have a positive role. Its full of awesome, likeminded people that are out there living life to the full and not letting anything stand in their way.
We all have to follow that political and over opiniated Uncle, or the cousin who declares her third load of laundry on a daily basis, but they are mostly drowned out by Dave who camped out on Higgor Tor and captured the ISIS passing by, or people like Debbie who's on her third nude swim of the river wye! (don't google Debbie does Wye, I made her up to make a point). The point being is to surround yourself with motivational and inspiring people and by sharing your time outdoors you will in turn inspire those who follow you.
The best part about any adventure big or small, be it a wild camp, wild swimming, mountain biking (not our idea of fun either!) is trying to explain to friends and colleagues the next day why it was the best idea you've ever had to spend a night in a snowstorm, cold water swimming or scrambling your nearest and oldest tree! Just don't forget that selfie! or they will never believe you otherwise.
Enjoy your own adventures, stay safe and take care.