Saturday, 22 June 2013


Microadventures. What are they then? Well they're something that Al Humphreys, king of the adventure, has been championing for a while. The basic idea is that you pack up your sleeping bag, put on your walking boots and head out to somewhere you've never been before and sleep out under the stars. Whether you get there by foot, bike, train or river, sleep on a hill or in the woods or by a lake, is all entirely up to you. Go after work during the week, go on a weekend, whatever works for you but get out of your comfort zone a little and have some fun!

At least two summer solstices have gone by where I've wanted to get out and camp or stay up all night and watch the sun rise but this year, spurred on by the solstice microadventure challenge I shunned the Blues on the Farm festival and got out there.

Despite much concern from my family I packed up my sleeping bag, mat, newly acquired bivy bag, map, water, food, torch and toothbrush and caught the train to Tilehurst. My plan was to walk from Tilehurst to Pangbourne along the Thames Path, go up through Whitchurch-on-Thames to a clearing in a wooded area on a hill. Unfortunately I set off a bit late and it took me longer than expected to walk to Pangbourne so rather than wandering through the woods in the dark I settled for an alternative site in Pangbourne Meadow.
As I came out of the station I was walking into the sun and the midges dancing in the light looked magical. I wandered through a patch of housing, giving a cheery greeting to the local scout group, past a field of cows with calves literally gambolling, to Maple Durham Lock. It was a really pretty walk, shared with a couple of runners and dog walkers.

 My first choice camping spot in Pangbourne Meadow was in the vicinity of a playground occupied by teenagers, so I thought better of it. I knew rain was forecast so I wanted a bit of shelter. In the end I opted for a patch of long grass between two big trees. The grass meant I couldn't be seen and the trees gave me comfort if not shelter. After a hasty dinner of rice salad and a swig from the hip flask I settled down for the night.
 I'm not sure how well I slept but I was amazed at how snug I was in the bivy; even when the rain came I stayed pretty dry. I didn't wake up until about 8:20am! The serenity of waking up by the river was wonderful and I felt really brave for having done my first microadventure. I was discovered packing up by two lady dog walkers who were a little concerned about me but I told them, with a big smile, that I was having an adventure and they seemed happy enough with that.
Morning campers!
My view this morning
A short walk to the station, munching an energy bar on the way, and I was heading home feeling a little achy and in need of a good shower. I learnt a lot on this adventure, and would make a few changes if I were to do one again; I'd have liked more time to appreciate the scenery and I'm a bit sorry I didn't see the sunrise. I didn't take any music, or a book and didn't feel the lack of them but checking in with my mum and on twitter meant everyone knew where I was as a safety precaution, and also meant I was able to share my experiences with others also out on their own adventures. Now I'm home, clean, unpacked and with a cup of coffee, Mark Knopfler's album, Privateering, seems like the perfect soundtrack.

Where I slept last night
The only sign I'd been there
I know one or two people have already said that they quite fancy trying this out for themselves which is just fantastic, I'm always very humbled when people are inspired by my actions. Sleeping out is a very liberating experience and you don't need to prep a lot to do it. Just take a look at Al's posts on microadventuring and stay safe. You might get a view a bit like this, or better!
My view this morning


  1. I'm really glad you had a good time on your first microadventure/wildcamp. I love sleeping out in the open either in a bivvy bag or in a hammock, it really can't be beaten and is always a big adventure. A hipflask is kinda essential.

  2. Brilliant... it helps that there are no bears in England!

  3. This has given me a lot of confidence and I'll certainly be doing some more of these. Yes, lack of big wildlife in the English countryside does help!

  4. Nice to have a long lie-in - glad you enjoyed the experience.