This has been a pretty stellar year for doing cool stuff and I’m already looking to see how I can top it in 2016. What did I get up to?
Winter skills course in the Cairngorms, Scotland
In January I headed up to a snow covered scottish highlands to do a Winter Skills course with Cairngorm Adventure Guides. This was my first go at proper winter mountain walking and I absolutely loved it. There was a ton of snow, including one proper white out and some potentially challenging conditions.
Apart from learning some of the basics with the ice-axe and crampons it was just amazing to be up in such a wonderful winter landscape for 4 days. This trip was also great for giving me a shot of confidence on hiking in winter. A superb start to the year.
California trip (inc. Yosemite)
I was lucky enough to be sent by my work to northern California in May to organise a conference. Following this I was even luckier to get away for a week to see some of the beauty spots.
I hired a car and headed up to Yosemite,somewhere I’ve passed through before but not really spent much time in. I spent a half day in the amazing Mariposa Grove with its giant trees and another half day climbing the mist trail in Yosemite Valley itself. Read the full blog.
My big day was climbing up the seemingly endless switchbacks from the valley floor to the top of Yosemite Falls. From here I walked the ten mile round trip to El Capitan. In total I walked 16 miles and ascended over 900 metres in just over 7 hours. Tiring day!
After Yosemite I drove up to Lake Tahoe and then to Point Reyes National Seashore. An fabulous trip!
All the photos from the trip on Flickr.
Blue Moon Microadventure
Since my winter and spring adventures I was pining for some adventure but not really having the time to get to the remote ‘cool’ areas of the country I had despaired of what to do. It was in the summer that I stumbled across the Alastair Humphreys book ‘Microadventures‘.
I found it revolutionary. Instead of big, expensive, far away adventures, do them quick, close and cheap. It also introduced the idea of camping without a tent to me. So simple and yet it still keeps the essence of adventure. I’m now addicted.
My first bivvy adventure was with my 7 year old daughter Rose on the cliffs above Seaton in Devon during the ‘blue moon’ in August. Read the full blog post. Feels especially good that we shared this experience.
Hadleigh Castle Microadventure
Keen to go on another adventure I was also keen to find like minded people which led me to the ‘adventure army london‘ group on Facebook. This led to going on a campout with a group following Dave Cornthwaite at Hadleigh Castle near Leigh-on-Sea.
It felt very different going with a gang of 13 rather than on my own or with my friend andy. What I did get, apart from a lovely night out, was to meet some like minded people, many of whom now I count as friends. Read the full blog post.
Cobham Wood Microadventure
As cool as it was going with other people I felt I was ready to go on a solo microadventure. I decided to see if I could fit a quick one in at the Darnley Memorial in Cobham Wood.
There is a certain special buzz about being out in nature on your own, especially for a city boy like me. I loved it, especially when I saw some bats and a wonderful sunset and sunrise. Read the full blog post.
Loch Ness Marathon
The really big adventure this year was supposed to be completing my second marathon and smashing my personal best. When it came to it I found that finding time to train over the summer was quite tough and my preparation was far from optimum.
This meant that the race itself was incredibly hard, especially as I was determined to attempt a sub-four hour time. The middle part of the marathon was a crisis point for me and i’m actually really proud of myself that I was able to dig deep and find the grit to keep going and meet my ambitious goal.
Read all of the Loch Ness Marathon blogs.
Kayaking BCU star 1
Embracing the idea of adventure and inspired after watching some microadventure videos I was keen to try Kayaking. Not sure how much I would carry it on, I didn’t want to spend a fortune learning the basics. Luckily the Tower Hamlets Canoe Club offer a four evening course for £50.
I’m now a star 1 qualified kayaker and I’ll decide in the new year as to whether I’ll go for my star 2 or concentrate on other things. I did really enjoy it and would love to do more if I have time.
Read about the course in full.
A number if the people I was with at the Hadleigh Castle campout seemed to do a crazy sounding early morning workout called ‘Project Awesome’. Captained by tv star Danny Bent initiation into this group has been a fantastic positive thing in my week. Loud shouting, hugs, a sunrise and a badass workout is the way to start the day!
Black Mountains (Brecon Beacons) camping
There was a time when my annual weekend in the hills with my friend Andy was all the outward bound action that I’d be looking at in a given year. This year we aimed to check out some of the black mountains in the Brecon Beacons.
We were a bit unlucky with the weather but time on the hills is always great. Read the full blog post.
Houghton Forest Microadventure
I was really pleased with this microadventure, it illustrates how I can squeeze in a campout following something else. I was down in Houghton Forest near Arundel doing some off-road cycling and running. My fellow cyclists/runners left to go home and I marched off into wood and had my own microadvenure.
I did get pretty creeped out by the owls that called out all night out but that is the wid for you!
Read the full blog post.
Coombe Hill Microadventure
Missing some company I put the word out to my chums in Project Awesome and Yes Tribe to see if anyone fancied a Christmas microadventure. I was absolutely delighted that 15 people joined me on Coombe Hill near Wendover.
The weather was warm(ish) for december but WAS wet and very windy. This didn’t stop the brilliant group I was with from having a great time. I’m so inspired by them that I think i’ll plan one a month into the new year.