8: Microadventures

I first heard of Alastair Humphreys via Mr. Spratt. While Humpheys has walked across India and cycled 46,000 miles, I was most interested in two of his smaller adventures: walking a lap of the M25 and walking home for Christmas. They had a lovely mix of epic and whimsy.

Some time after, Humphreys began promoting the idea of microadventures. The idea was the simplest expedition one could manage, so short you could do it between leaving work one night and starting work the next day. No need for extravagant gear, just grab a sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and maybe a bivvy bag. Set off into the countryside and sleep outdoors. It’s a simple idea but Humphrey’s enthusiasm acted as a sort of permission. Don’t worry about sleeping rough, just get out there.

My first microadventure was in 2013, the day after my birthday. I cleared up the house, ate a cooked breakfast then set off walking with my friends Trevor and John. We met up with another friend, Michael Parker, and made it to Cuckmere Haven where we drunk a pint; then waved Mike off and settled into some woods as dusk fell. I remember the quiet, the dawn sky through the leaves.

There was a less successful outing with my friend Vicky in 2014, sleeping out on the Downs. The bare hills had little cover and we hid beneath some thorny trees, keeping off the rain with a tarpaulin. As cold and damp as it was, I’m still glad I did it. I loved drinking red wine, the lights of the weald villages below us, wondering what was the searchlight that kept sweeping over us.

It’s only takes a little work to have an adventure. I could bundle together the things I need in ten minutes, be deep in the countryside within an hour. The question is, then, why don’t I do this more often?

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