Last week I talked to Sarah Outen and spent three days on a little adventure in the wild, thinking about the word "adventure", and picked up some litter... be back again next week with a guest post. Enjoy!
Adventure is a word which is used very much these days to describe outdoor activities that, to those who have always done them, are simply what they are; hiking, camping or canoeing, for example. They need no greater moniker to attribute some magical quality to them.
I used to climb a bit when I was younger. I spent days in the mountains with a rucksack on my back. I went for walks, hikes, camped, I learned to snowboard. I enjoyed nothing more than a night under the stars. But at no point did I "go on an adventure", at least, not after I was about sixteen years old.
Yet now I probably overuse the term. Why? Well it is undoubtedly a word of our times. It is fashionable to describe such activities as adventures, which of course they can be. In truth they always were, even when I was grown up and I didn’t call them such. Trips in the outdoors often took me outside my comfort zone, taught me valuable skills and frequently gave me some sense of excitement beyond my normal existence.
Recently, with all the zeal of a reformed smoker or a born again Christian I have seized on this term, like many others, to describe what I enjoy doing. It may confuse many a seasoned outdoorsman or woman but I think it is those that have come to it more recently as an escape from their daily lives or those, like me, who have re-discovered their passion for the wild who feel the need to describe what they do with some catch-all terminology that unites the like-minded and perhaps even harks back to more innocent days of childhood.
ADVENTURE can sound bigger than it really is. It is after all a very subjective thing. My adventures would not be described as such by many a more intrepid individual.
The tables may turn and we might fall out of love with the term but for now I am happy with it. I spent years neglecting my love of the outdoors as I pursued other ventures. So, if it is the romantic idea of “adventure" that has once again captured mine and others' imaginations, stirred us to do things that help build confidence and once again grow our appreciation for the natural world, this can only be a good thing.
Sarah Outen - A Real Adventurer
Last week I had an amazing week. I had the good fortune to be able to spend time talking with Sarah Outen, a bona fide adventurer if ever there was one. Amongst many things we spoke of how to inspire the young (women in particular) to continue to love the outdoors and to make adventure a part of their lives as they grow up. Thanks to Sarah's experience I am now armed with ideas to keep my daughter's growing interest for all things outdoors.
I have been thinking ahead what Emma and I can do for this year’s 30 Days Wild challenge in June. Last year spending time outside or appreciating nature every day for a month was a huge benefit to her confidence as well as her understanding and love for the planet. Perhaps even more importantly she just enjoyed every minute of it.
However, one year later she has homework three nights per week, much as I disapprove of it for a six year old. This will cause a problem with her time after school and limit what we can do together. I mentioned this to Sarah, who suggested getting her class involved and it is something I will try, but I fear she may end up missing out on educational and inspirational mini-adventures in nature, in favour of multiplications. This would be sad. Of course she and I can do things at any time of year but having a goal of completing something everyday is also part of the value of initiatives like the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild.
SOUTH DOWNS - The Serpent Trail
At the back end of the week I spent three days walking part of the Serpent Trail in the South Downs with my friend Dan. It is a really beautiful area of the country, only a couple of hours drive from home, a real revelation.
It wasn’t all pleasant. Tramping through ankle deep mud as it seeps through the fabric of your trainers and between your toes is only amusing for the first few minutes. Morale is not heightened by having to force your feet into the self-same sodden socks and shoes in the chill of the morning.
But the quiet of the hills and woodlands, the warmth of an evening fire, the hooting of owls in the branches above and the camaraderie of shared hardships and sunlit landscapes is what makes this kind of adventure a joyous experience.
For anyone who doesn't know the South Downs I would encourage you to go there and explore. Give yourself time and, if you can, do it in the week and out of season. We encountered few people beyond the odd dog-walker and it made camping out in the woodland feel all the more remote and all the more adventurous.
Big Outdoor Bloggers cleanup
As a side note Dan and I were also collecting litter on our way around. It is something I have done from time to time when out walking or paddling and it doesn't cost much in terms of effort. This time it was part of an initiative I read about through Outdoor Bloggers and if truth be told we found very little.