Micro Adventures in the UK My Top Ten Ideas

Micro Adventures in the UK My Top Ten Ideas

As the nights get lighter and the days a little brighter the opportunities for us to get out on adventures increases! Have you been on a micro adventure in the UK?

You only get one life, you get to choose how you spend your time, but sometimes ‘adventure’ can seem financially out of reach however there is no need to reside yourself to the dull and mundane just yet. There are endless micro adventures you can get up to here in the UK without spending a fortune or needing a month off work, here is my top 10:

1. Head for your local trail center! I am a little biased as mountain biking is my passion so of course biking micro adventures are top of my list, but in the UK we have some great trail centers where there are routes for all abilities from green which is beginner level and good for children to black and orange for those for who their wheel to leave the ground and like it to be steep and technical. In the south head for Queen Elizabeth Country Park or Swinley Forest further afield Cannock Chase and the Chiltern Hills are super fun! If you need a little confidence boost book yourself a morning with a coach to help improve your cycling ability. Mountain bike trail guide coming soon subscribe to keep up to date.

2. The UK capital of adventure personally would be Wales. Head for Snowdonia for a micro adventure, where you will find great camping spots, pretty b&bs plenty of sheep along with loads of outdoor activities from white water rafting to climbing. At Plas Y Brenin you can get great coaching in kayaking and climbing.

3. Surf’s up! Jutting straight out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is a magnet for swell, creating perfect waves for surfing! Also having some of the best beaches in the UK ideal for rock pooling and beach combing adventures. Why not take on a litter pick for surfers against sewage at the same time. A micro adventure with purpose!

4. Go for a wild swim – whether it’s a lake, river or the sea find some friends and go for a dip! Remember to check the tide times if you pick the sea and a wet suit could be a good shout!

5. Sleep outside without a tent – you can pick up a bivvy bag from Go Outdoors armed with this and perhaps a friend or two and a camping stove and your local woods could become your first micro adventure.

6. See how far you can run/walk/cycle in a weekend/day/morning/evening…

7. Take a new route to work – Micro adventures can happen at any time, why not have one five days a week, I am fortunate enough to live on the South Downs a beautiful area. I first discovered just how beautiful when I mixed up my commute routes for a couple of weeks not only did this give me a real sense of achievement in finding new ways to work but I could use these cycling routes as new training rides as well.

8. Use this great site called Fancy Free Walks to find a walk from a new place. Martyn and I have been using this site to explore our local area finding walk with good pub stops and making an adventure of it.

9. Scotland – The most beautiful and wildest part of our great Island. Okay it can take a while to get there but the sleeper train from London is a great option or why not drive and stop off at different places along the way to make a real road trip of the UK. Read about biking in Scotland.

10. Enter a race! Not to win (unless you want too) but for the adventure. Racing gives you a reason to exercise and motivation to get outside and maybe try something new. There are loads of sites which have these types of challenges like Rat Race, Tough Mudder and Cycling Events UK the bonus is your likely to get a badly fitting t-shirt and a medal as well! Read about my Mum and I racing in the New forest.

Share your micro adventures with me on Facebook.

A Valentines adventure with Berghaus

A Valentines adventure with Berghaus

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Marytn and I live in a beautiful spot nestled under the South Downs Way. Being two very busy people it is a real treat to get out and explore our local trails together with our dog Luna. So this Valentines weekend we put our boots in the car, packed up Luna and headed around the corner for an adventure in our own back yard.

Parking at the Whitehorse in Chilgrove, one of our favourite country pubs, we had a quick drink to rehydrate and checked out the map. Martyn was in charge of directions, and not getting us lost!

Thirst quenched we set off walking along the main road towards our first of many gates, through the gate we entered a  field and continued to follow the path until we could not hear the buzzing of the road. The leaves crunched beneath our feet as we entered the wood, making our way through the trees, the first signs of spring’s arrival peaking up on the banks, a charming carpet of white snowdrops.

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Our path soon came to a small road called the Hooksway, a chalky hill leads up steeply to the South Downs Way. We decided it would be nice to sit at the top and eat lunch so continued up, heads down, heavy breathing, watching our footing on the slippery chalk.

As the track levelled out we passed the Devil’s Jumps, one of the best preserved Bronze Age barrow group left in Sussex. It is said that the reason for the name is that the devil jumped from barrow to barrow to annoy the God Thor, who then threw a stone at him and he ran off…. Make of this what you will! We saw no gods or devils just rabbits and sheep!

Leaving the woods our comfortable journey turned cold as the wind buffeted us; it was time to test the warming powers of our Berghaus jackets. Putting my hood up I felt cosy and sheltered from the elements. The view outstretched before us showing our chalky route heading back in the direction of Brighton. After a few more fields of sheep we found some large logs to sit on. Pic-nic time! Out came the sausages sandwiches and flask of tea. We munched our way through thick cut bread, sausages and mustard, crisps and a flask of tea, being eyed up by Luna who was convinced that there must be something in our pic-nic for her.

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Bellies full and with slightly chillier fingers we packed our bag and headed onwards. Martyn said we needed to pass three fields and then turn left and leave the South Downs Way. Following Martyn we merrily did what we thought was correct and ventured down a steep chalky path through woodlands where Luna was animated by the smells and sounds of potential squirrels behind every tree.

Happily walking along, soon we were not 100% convinced this was our path… stopping to check our map it became apparent we had missed a left hand turn earlier on and had actually now taken the path we should be walking up, not down!

We re-traced our steps back to the South Downs Way and straight over into West Dean woods, back on track, it was becoming dusky and walking from the open track into a new wood it was clear we would be finishing in the dark! All of a sudden Luna squealed with excitement as three majestic deer crossed our path about 200 metres in front of us.

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Even with the fading light West Dean woods was a magical place the spongy forest floor was covered in deer tracks, the sweet smell of forest filled the air and the mighty oaks and hazel trees towered above making you feel protected from the elements.

Steadily descending out of the woods and through a big wooden gate we followed the twinkle of lights onto a country road, illuminating our path by the stars and torch light we soon arrived back at the Whitehorse, just in time for a well earnt pub dinner and a nice glass of wine!

My Women’s Berghaus Extrem Micro Down Jacket was perfect for this adventure. I wore it with a jumper underneath and for the time of year and climate in the UK was great. The Extrem jacket uses Body-mapping design techniques which help regulate your temperature and put warmth where it’s really needed.

#BerghausDoItDifferently

Head over to Instagram to see my story of the walk.

Follow Berghaus here

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Soggy footpaths, frosty mornings, wellies and bobble hats!

Soggy footpaths, frosty mornings, wellies and bobble hats!

Last weekend Martyn, Luna and I layered up and headed out to explore the countryside. We started our adventure in a car park on the west side of the A286 on the South Downs Way near the village of Cocking.

From the car park, we turned west along the South Downs Way (SDW), on a wide surfaced track. As we climbed steadily pass Hill Top Farm, another 400m further and we were nearly at the top of the slope with sheep fields surrounding us, we turned left, leaving the SDW, passing a large chalk ball (one of several in this area made by the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy).

We couldn’t see much because of the drizzle, but on a good day you can clearly see Goodwood racecourse over to your left. Turning back around to survey where we came from the view over varied farmland was stunning, even in the drizzle. Walking into magical woodland we followed our directions “turning left at the next the three finger post turn left onto a wide chalky path.”

We walked further into the wood staying on the main track. The wood was alive with nature from various bird species, squirrels and deer. Luna was quite disgruntled not being allowed to pursue the deer.

Gradually the forest enclosed with tall spruce trees, after about 800m we reached an open area with hunter’s hideouts, not so hidden in the tree canopies.

Heading down a steep bank the path was covered in leaves and we were not sure we were on track, Luna seemed to know where she was going and soon enough there was a blue sign which indicated we were on track, well done Luna!

With our bellies rumbling we were now near our half way stop at Singleton and the Partridge Inn.

With beautiful beech trees to our left, spruce on our right it felt like something out of the Faraway Tree Books I read as a child. We kept wandering through the trees until our path popped out into vast views of farmers’ fields as far as our eyes could see. We took the path to the left down the farmers track towards a lonely isolated house.

Our path ran through Colworth Farm and then took a left back up through varied fields full of crops. We could see Singleton below and were excited about our lunch stop at The Partridge Inn. We followed the path down the right-hand side of a meadow, the path was steep and at the next stile Luna had to be carried by Martyn, as she was too big to go under the stile and too much of a wimp to go over it!

A steady march through the mud over the disused railway bridge, through cow fields until our last gate brought us out in Singleton. Finally the pub stop!

This dog friendly pub was a great find. With a big roaring fire and delicious sandwiches in front of us the idea of going outside to finish our walk was not

appealing…

We left the pub around 3.15pm with only 45 minutes of light left we would probably be finishing in the dark… little did we know the adventure that was about to unfold.

 

Walking down the little lane to the side of the pub, just after a river crossing and before the school, we turned left at a signpost on a wide track, passing a cemetery it was very muddy!

The path steeply climbed an open grassy field until we reached another wooden gate. This new open field had a wood to the right so we headed towards it and through another stile where sheep were grazing, with a Levin Down information panel on our left we were sure we were in the right place…

Our path descended down through black thorn bushes, as we reached the bottom we had a niggling feeling we had gone wrong, but where? Our instructions had stopped making sense and so we back tracked up the hill and took a different path, this turned out to be the off-piste route through scrub land and prickly bushes, a dead end.

 

 

 

Time ticking on we continued into a field with ponies grazing through a new gate and over a large grassy pasture the light was dusky and we couldn’t find a way out. Reaching the far side, google maps was needed to get us back on track! Martyn’s excellent map reading skills we found our path,  a sign post showed the direction to each neighboring village which helped get us back on track. As a double check, the path had a wire fence on the left and a hedge on the right, which was mentioned in our instructions. Heading towards the dark and mysterious forest with only 30% battery left we waited until in the pitch black before turning on the torch to light our way.

Counting my steps Martyn and I walked silently through the trees aware of the silence and stillness around us apart from the odd cracking tree branch, what was lurking in the pitch black? After 700m we entered a clearing and the eerie light from the moon cast shadows and made the trees look very spooky indeed. Looking back from where we had come was like looking into a well. Crossing the chalky path and on into the dark woodlands Luna was on high alert watching the darkness, ears pricked and aware of every sound and smell around her, she stuck close to my leg as if she could sense my nerves.

We kept going until we reached the South Downs Way; from here we could not go wrong. Knowing this section well from biking the views are incredible in every direction. In the dark we just enjoyed the peacefulness of walking through the countryside just the three of us, our road lit by torch.

This mini adventure right on our door step, was a cheap and fun day out spending time with the people I love in the fresh air and stunning South Downs. I would highly recommend a trip to the South Downs.

A nutty adventure on the South Downs

A nutty adventure on the South Downs

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Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. The leaves are slowly changing, flushing with reds and oranges before making the leap to the forest floor. Each time I go out walking with Luna the landscape has changed. The forest becomes lighter as the leaves fall and reveal the cloudy sky above. The conifers stand smug keeping their needles and lush colour whilst the trees stand exposed to the elements.

Last weekend I had the privilege of spending a day outdoors with some fantastic people. Whole Earth Foods and Sophie Radcliffe invited me on an adventure along the South Downs. Starting at Harting Down we walked along a section of the South Downs way, before heading to the magical Adhurst Yurts where we went exploring the vast forest full of different types of trees some with and some without their leaves. It was like stepping into a fairy tale as we collected firewood from the dense forest ready to build our camp fire.

As Jayne and I built the fire Sophie, Katie and Chep cooked in a Safari kitchen outdoors. Dinner was served as the sun disappeared from view a heart and soul warming bowl of butternut squash and chick pea curry with a special dash of peanut butter, you must try it!

A camp fire would not be complete without marshmallows and we were in for a treat as Sophie shared her favourite camping snack of sliced apple and peanut butter s’mores it was like a sticky warming hug with a zing of fresh apple and lashings of peanut butter, what a great way to end the day, it had been an awesome adventure in the woods.

Here are a few photos from the trip.

Thank you Whole Earth and Sophie for inviting me.

 

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Bank holiday weekends were made for exploring.

Bank holiday weekends were made for exploring.

Our first ever Glamping adventure!

This one was no exception, on Friday night Lauren, Stu, Martyn, myself and the dogs drove to Wales for a spot of Glamping.

Glamping is a form of ‘glamorous camping’ which combines the luxury of a warm cosy night’s sleep in a real bed (usually) with the element of adventure in the outdoors.

We stayed at Bryn Betws Lodge in Afan Forest Park in ‘glamping’ pods which were little wooden huts with blow up beds, lighting, electric and that was about it! I have never been ‘glamping’ before and it was nice to arrive in the dark and not have to worry about fiddling with tent poles by torch light.

The pods were very basic and camping equipment like stove, plates/bowls, sleeping bags and pillows were needed. It was nice to have lights and electric two things I have learnt to deal without camping.

Glamping in Wales

The pods had benches and chairs where we ate breakfast and admired the views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning was drizzly but this didn’t detract from the beauty of the Welsh valley, a medley of green and grey rolling hills. After a somewhat leisurely start to the day we headed up the forest tracks with the dogs in search of a good pub. Now the keen eyed of you probably noticed I said ‘up’ and yes I thought I had seen a sign for a village going up the side of this hill, after a while it became apparent I was wrong.

 

 

 

Retracing our steps the rain cleared slowly as we walked down into the village below.

Since having a dog Martyn and I have tried to take Luna (the dog) to as many places as possible, finding dog friendly pubs in Wales proved to be a challenge over the course of the weekend, one that I am sure other dog owners can appreciate. (If you know of any good dog friendly pubs in Wales please comment below and I will add links to these for others!)

Arriving back at our pods, the hot and now damp weather had whipped the midges into a frenzy so we re-treated inside to play Linkee (a camping essential). I was just about to ‘win’ a letter K when there was a knock at the pod door. A smart gentleman stood with a bottle of prosecco in his hands and we were invited to a wedding! It turned out an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride had been filmed and the groom (prosecco in hand) said we were welcome to join the party.

 

Fast forward a few hours and we were the only four people on the dance floor. Sunday morning brought some sore heads and mountain biking was put on hold until the afternoon.

We spent most of Sunday exploring the beaches around the Gower Peninsula (Swansea end) I have never been to this part of Wales and the rocky cliffs stretched up for miles towards the peninsular from Swansea bay.

The dogs loved the beach and we had soon lost or broken several tennis balls in their enthusiasm to run and chase them down.

By the time we got back to the pods the beach air and walking had created 4 tired humans and two tired puppies!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday was our last day in Wales and it came with another slightly random surprise as we opened the pod doors three donkeys were chilling out in our camp area. The donkeys were keen to get to know the dogs, it’s safe to say this was not a mutual friendship!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing the cars we headed to Afan Trail Centre where Martyn and Stu hired bikes. This was Stu’s second time on a mountain bike and the plan was a ‘gentle’ loop of Y Wal. Y Wal is a swooping 24km mainly singletrack loop where the descents and the views are both breath-taking. It is a red graded trail which, according to the guide book, boasts some of the best singletrack in the UK and I must say after riding it I agree. We climbed fire road and more technical singletrack climbs, rode along exposed ridge lines and weaved our way through the forest. It was exhilarating.