About a month ago, I came across an idea by adventurer Alisair Humphreys to take a ‘MicroAdventure’.

Although I try to plan adventures and memorable trips, these are often expensive and take up anything from a week to a few months. I always crave something new and exciting: a new adventure. I enjoy the break from everyday routine and love to exchange it for the unknown, a little risk and even a little discomfort.

All of this is actually available much closer to home than we traditionally think. The concept of a MicroAdventure is learning to explore what is around you and to spend a single night out in the wild.

This idea expands even further by suggesting that it is possible to have a MicroAdventure right in the middle of a working week – Leave work with minimal gear in a backpack, sleep under the stars and return to work the next day as usual.

When I first read about this idea, I announced to my brother (and fellow adventure enthusiast) that this is something we should do, and soon.  He agreed, as I expected he would, and before I knew it there was a calendar invite sitting in my inbox.  Step one complete: ‘make it real’.

The date we chose was actually on a Bank Holiday a few weeks away, rather than a work night, but that’s fine with me as long as it’s happening.

 

Getting there:

London Underground

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took the underground to London Victoria and then a train to Gatwick; where I met my brother and his car to drive to our selected patch of wild.

We selected the location by using Google Earth to identify large areas of green space. We knew we wanted to sleep in the forest, be as far away from people as possible and maybe include a nice view if possible.

Other than knowing an approximate area of countryside, we deliberately left the finer details – like where we would sleep – until we arrived. After all, this is supposed to be an adventure.

 

Into the wild:

Into the wild

 

 

 

 

 

After ditching the car in what we felt was a relatively safe location with limited risk of theft, towing or fines, we looked for the nearest tree line and headed up a hill track straight towards it.

We walked for between 4 and 5 hours through the forest, ignoring any path we came across, and instead headed as deep as we could into the trees and as far away as possible from the chance of seeing other people. In reality, if we had tracked our route it would probably have looked more like the Olympics logo rather than a direct route into the unknown.

We spotted a number of potential places to set up camp, but ended up just choosing one just as the sun started to go down and the forest started to drop into darkness.

We had read weather reports saying that we should be expecting heavy rain from about 2am onwards, so we decided to put up the tarp between a couple trees and hope for the best. With just two sleeping bags laid out on the forest floor beneath it our ‘jungle retreat’ was complete.

As the light faded we put on some warmer clothes and got stuck into our cold dinner that we and picked up at Tesco earlier that day. Ginsters pies, spicey tinned macrel and a Snickers bar. It seemed like a feast after so many hours of hiking up and down hills and fighting our way through thorny bushes.

It takes a while to get used to the quiet forest, interrupted only by the roar of planes going overhead and the faint sound of a road in the distance.  The trees block out most of the moon light and my head torch gave about a 3m patch of visibility in whichever direction I looked. This was a bad time to start thinking: “what would be the scariest thing that could happen right now if this was a movie”!

After bagging our rubbish and hanging it out of the foxs’ reach, we called it a night and got tucked into our sleeping bags. The slight incline in the forest floor left me in a constant feeling of slipping and the tree root under my back wasn’t as un-noticeable as I first thought. That aside, it was great to feel the breeze on my face and to look out of my sleeping bag cocoon up to the silhouette of the leaves against the night sky.

 

Strangers in the night:

At about 1.20am I was woken by the sound of footsteps cracking on twigs as they moved closer towards us. The ‘intruder’ walked within meters of us but seemed to not notice us at first. He stopped for a second, darting his torch light around the trees, before noticing us and shining his light briefly over us and our humble little shelter.

Our night prowler quickly turned and walked back amongst the trees and disappeared. We never found out who he was or what he was doing in the woods at that time. However, after finding a gas container, some old pans and a few empty microwave meals hidden behind the roots of a nearby fallen tree, we guessed that it was probably us who were the actual intruders into his forest home.

By 4.30 am I was awake and listening to the rain pattering on the tarp hanging above us. By 5.30 am the sun started to rise and we could gradually see deeper and deeper into the surrounding trees. The air was fresh and clean and a bird in a near by tree decided it was his time to shine (only one song and no encore…how disappointing).

 

Back to London life:

Back to London

 

 

 

 

 

Plans for a porridge breakfast came to an abrupt end when my portable stove struggled to boil the water for my morning cup of green tea. It was like a school disco for bubbles; all gathered around the sides with intent but none brave enough to rise up and party. How uninspiring. Instead we opted for a malt loaf between the two of us and one mildly warm cup of tea.

5 minutes later and we were packed up with no sign we had even been there. Even the trees that once served as the foundation of our camp were now just one of the crowd.

We walked a more direct route back to the car, this time making the most of tracks and paths. The sky was grey and raining, but we both felt incredibly happy to be out and walking so early in the fresh air and thinking about the day and night before. It was only one night and only a few hours from London, but it had been so completely different to our usual routine and so enjoyable that I felt physically exhausted yet mentally refreshed. It had been a successful adventure, only on a smaller budget and much easier to fit into a busy schedule.

 

 

 

Did you enjoy this article?
Share the Love
Get Free Updates