Thursday, 26 June 2014

Solstice Microadventure 2014

There's masses of countryside partially on my doorstep that I've never explored. Some of it's not even that wild or remote. Take the Devil's Punchbowl for example. I've driven past it many times but never stopped in (not in my adult life anyway) despite being a National Trust member. So I decided to use the summer solstice and encouragement from Al Humphreys and his new book Microadventure as an excuse to do some exploring. The plan was that a friend and I would meet up there, explore at least two of the trails around the area, find somewhere to sleep out overnight then do a bit more walking the next day, either before or after a hearty breakfast at the cafe. 

Unfortunately, on the day, my friend announced that he'd busted his knee on a recent holiday and it wasn't anywhere near capable of walking a few miles. So I decided to go it alone. I stuffed a bivvy bag, sleeping mat and sleeping bag liner in my rucksack along with water, toothbrush, jumper, buff, hip flask, snack and book and set off. Now I'm not a cyclist and I couldn't be faffed with a train so I drove there. Sorry. I know that's not really in the spirit of these things but that's the way it was. It was a gloriously warm evening, perfect for sauntering through forests. 

I learnt about the legend behind the name, the unknown Sailor who was murdered there, and the way in which the area used to be used. I dipped off of the beaten track to explore an area used for working with the wood. I paused to clamber on a fallen tree that stretched out into a field of cows (who seemed singularly unimpressed with my antics). Purple pokers of foxgloves were everywhere in swathes and bramble flowers promised of autumn blackberries to come. Huge, ancient trees looked as though they were straight out of a fairy tale. I was alternately enclosed in woodland and exposed to beautiful views. After I completed the two trails I'd planned to do I wandered back to a trig point I'd found where there was a view back over some of the nearby towns. A hot air balloon drifted lazily overhead as I spent some time contemplating life.

At around 9pm, despite having earmarked somewhere to sleep, I chickened out and drove home. I was tired but happy. I'd done something I wouldn't have ordinarily done with my evening and I felt as though I'd had an adventure of sorts at any rate. It was a pity that I wasn't able to try out a MiniMap to explore further but maybe another time. Once home I sat in the garden in my PJs and a huge jumper (it did occur to me to sleep there but I was worried about what the neighbours might think, it bang a front garden) with some of my mum's blackberry whisky watching the stars come out. I slept with the windows and blind open that night.

Fairy tale trees
Out on a limb! Haha! Sorry...
The next morning I made tea in a flask, packaged up some breakfast and took a stroll round to the lake. Established on my favourite bench I listened to the ducks dabbling in the water, watched the swan family glide around and tried to ignore the aeroplanes overhead. It was a lovely way to start the day and although I'd only spent about an hour there, by the time I got home I felt as though I'd been up half the day; refreshed, revived and at peace. 
Life is what you make of it. You don't need to be terribly adventurous or stray far from home to have a micro adventure. Something as simple as having your breakfast in the park has the power to change how you feel about your whole day. I encourage you to try it.

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