Mini Adventures are all about getting outside and fitting the maximum adventure into whatever time you have, squeezing every little bit of fun you can in around your day to day life.
To help you get inspired, we asked some of the FINDRA ambassadors what they’d managed to squeeze into their free time.
A 5-To-9 Adventure – Anna McGorum
My Dad and I left the house just after 5, laden with sleeping bags, sausages, the mini stove and the outer of a tent (our last minute improvisation for a bivvy bag). Being one of our first mini adventures, we weren’t completely sure what to expect but, after drawing inspiration from ‘Micro Adventures’ by Alastair Humphreys (a must-buy book for any adventure seekers with a busy schedule), there was no going back.
By the end of our two-hour walk, the hills were already turning a deep purple and the sun had started to ebb below the horizon. We chose our spot for the night, a small rocky outcrop on the summit, and began cooking. A belly full of Bramley apple sausages and custard later (isn’t it odd how amazing food tastes when cooked and eaten outdoors!), and we were curled up into our sleeping bags, watching Peebles slowly light up as the stars came out.
We were woken, by the morning chill, to the call of a cuckoo down in the valley. The dawn chorus accompanied our descent and, upon reaching the town, not a soul was awake. There is something exhilarating about being up and about whilst everyone else is tucked up in their cosy homes. As a bonus, our mini adventure finished just in time for Dad to head off to work. I, on the other hand, went straight back to bed for an hour; I had school starting at 9.
IN TO THE WILD, WELL, KIND OF – LEE CRAIGIE
So often we think a bike adventure needs to be planned and programmed into our lives as an event in its own right. A purposeful moving from a to b. An alternative to real life. The truth is, I get the most satisfaction from amalgamating my adventures into my everyday life. That unplanned, impromptu bivvy out before the 9 am meeting back in town makes me feel like I’ve just cheated the system. Like I’ve just wangled a cheeky wee weekend into my working week. It’s so important for the soul to not get stuck in those velvet ruts of just going home, making dinner, putting the kids to bed and switching the TV on.
Fitting my other commitments around this need to break routine can be a real challenge but I’m never sorry when I manage it.
When I can, I build time into my schedule to allow extra time to travel between my work commitments. This way, I’m still moving towards my next appointment but at my own speed. An additional advantage is that my phone stays firmly in my pocket and I have enforced technology shut-down time. So important for creative thought and problem-solving. The soul can only travel as fast as a camel after all. Or a rather nice steel framed handbuilt bicycle!
Last month I was up to my eyes with commitments to show our new film “Divided”. I had showings in London and Wales and it would have been really easy to just lose sight of the important stuff and battle between the two in a hire car, head down, stressed out. Instead, I took the train part way, gathered some friends and together we rode the last section through mid-Wales along quiet canal towpaths and hilly singletrack roads. We stopped at a pub and had dinner then found a lovely spot to roll our bivvy bags out (the others maintain it was the pub garden, I say it was definitely further away than that though perhaps not quite wilderness) and we drifted off gazing up at the stars with bellies full and the promise of another wee ride in the morning before the chaos began again.
These are the important memories. When we’re on our deathbeds we’re not going to cast our minds back to the times we raced between work commitments or other stressful situations of our own making. We’re going to remember those stolen moments in rural pub beer gardens surrounded by giggling mates who have also been brave / determined / spontaneous / daft enough to compromise on other commitments to create lasting memories and to restore balance
A GIRLS NIGHT OUT – JULIA HOBSON
During the winter months, it can be hard to get out and get active, it’s easy to hibernate, stay indoors and find excuses not to go outside. There’s more effort involved in every outdoor activity, more kit, more cleaning, more faff. But I know from experience that if you can make yourself get out at this time of year, the reward and sense of achievement and wellbeing that comes from it will last a long time…
And so I planned a winter bothy “girls night out” one Friday in January with my friends Rachael and Claire. We fancied a mini adventure, exploring a new-to-us area, somewhere wild and remote, the often overlooked North Pennines, where we knew there was a bothy with a fire (essential!) and the map showed a bike ride we could do with the bothy part way round.
“Wild” can mean different things to different people, and for most of us that aren’t explorers, there are plenty of places in the UK where the ‘Wild Factor’ is pretty high. The North Pennines is one of these, it is also a place where the wilderness is easily accessible. You just need to get inspired, grab a map, make a plan and go, and as we found within a few hours of effort, you can find yourself in a place that feels remote, lonely and isolated.
There’s a sense of setting out on a great big adventure when you take all your food and kit with you on your back, even if it’s just for a night. Once you pedal away from your car and out into the hills it feels like you’re getting “out there”, away from it all….away from the comforts of modern living, out of your comfort zone…it’s just you, your friends and your bikes in the great outdoors.
We reached the bothy easily in a couple of hours on a good track, the conditions benign at that point, little sign of what was to come. We stayed warm and dry in front of a roaring fire, feasting on risotto with chorizo, washed down with mugs of red wine, finished with plenty of chocolate, and hours of giggles and chatter that comes easily between good friends.
But things changed overnight! Gale force winds picked up, threatening to lift the roof of our simple shelter, blizzards raged as we slept in our warm sleeping bags, and by the morning, feet of snow lay over everything. We abandoned our planned route, it was going to be enough of a mission just to get back down the way we had come, and far too dangerous in the conditions to attempt to go any further.
Several hours of pushing and riding in bitterly cold temperatures but through an incredibly beautiful landscape brought us safely back to hot chocolates and bacon sandwiches in the café. Was it all worth it? Absolutely! Our trip was only a mini-adventure, but that’s all we all needed to come back feeling refreshed, energised, and inspired for more. In fact, we rode a grand total of 12 miles, but boy did it feel a lot bigger and like we got a lot further away. It just goes to show that adventures don’t all have to be huge, monumental, daunting challenges that take weeks to plan, to feel like you’ve had a break from normality. Sometimes a little “Girls night out” is enough!
ONE WOMAN AND TWO KIDS ESCAPE TO FIFE – DEE HOLLINGSBEE
October Break and no plans – Dad working and Grannies elsewhere. So having heard how beautiful Elie and the Neuk of Fife are, and having lived in Scotland for 20 years and never been, my 2 boys and I headed off on our mini-adventure.
Fife didn’t disappoint – either me or the boys, who ran and climbed and chased over the dunes and rocks, silhouetted against the Firth of Forth.
Instead of turning for home we headed further North for an overnight stay at a Wigwam in St.Andrews. We arrived with just enough time to unpack before dark. It was a miserable night but after our fish supper, we managed to get the fire pit going. Admittedly I was the only one foolish enough to try to sit out in the wind and rain but after the flying embers threatened to scorch my favourite FINDRA beanie, even I gave up. But happily, the alternative was being cuddled up in our sleeping bags playing cards till we fell asleep – perfect.
The weather didn’t improve overnight so before we headed home, instead of braving the elements we wussed out and went for waffles. And ice-cream. That’s the thing about adventures with boys – they involve an awful lot of food……
FIGHTING THE (CABIN) FEVER – LUCY HUSBAND
I think cabin-fever has been a common feeling over the past few weeks when we have felt imprisoned in our homes staring out at the white stuff. My Facebook feeds have been busy with friends asking where its OK to ride – Is Glentress open yet? Are there any clear trails to ride over at Inners? It sounds odd but I suddenly realized at the weekend that it didn’t really matter what was open or rideable the important thing was just to get out there, have a look and see – what was the worst that could happen? We’d meet a wall of snow and have to turn back and so that’s exactly what we did. Our mini-adventure was finding trails to ride in the snow.
Now the true definition of the term adventure – includes an element of risk – but I can tell you – when it comes to riding icy, snow-covered trails I have a strong sense of self-preservation and am pretty risk-averse. We had heard Adrenaline Uplift at Innerleithen MTB trails had cleared the uplift road so we cycled down to Walkerburn through pools of surface water and then started the steady climb up through the forest – this in itself was a really good work-out and had us puffing and taking off layers fairly quickly. At the turning circle we met the snow and decided to throw caution to the wind and follow some French bikers down a trail– only a narrow snake of the track was visible through the snow and the slipping and sliding in the slush had us whooping and laughing loudly. Back at the bottom we were all smiles – faces flushed and hearts pumping from the adrenaline. Our mini-adventure had taken two hours and 20 minutes – we’d had a good work-out, shared laughs and challenged ourselves too. All on a single Sunday morning!