#16in16 Awesome Campouts

As another year comes around, what challenges am I going to set myself this time? It needs to be difficult, yet achievable. Additionally I’m inspired by Adam Sultan’s ‘Life Years‘ idea of 16 things in 2016 (he ran 15 marathons in 2015).

Marathons are clearly SO last year (I even did one myself) so it had to be something else – my new passion for camping out, sans tent, microadventure style. Sixteen of them in twelve months. #16in16 if you will.

On a bit of a whim before Christmas I put the word out for people to join me on a pre-Christmas campout at Coombe Hill near Wendover and was amazed that 15 people joined me. Enthused by this and all the people that asked if I was doing any more I sort of undertook to do one a month into 2016.

My super-talented wife Deborah even did this wonderful graphic to use on the Facebook event page. Lucky me!

Sketch 2015-12-13 22_14_03

I’m not sure if I’ll manage to organise group campouts every month this year, but I’ll certainly arrange a few for the first half of 2016. It is especially lovely if I’m helping some people go on their first outing.

So all I have to do is one microadventure a month plus four ‘bonus’ campouts. Seems pretty doable, especially in summer when the weather is likely to be enticing. Stealing away for a night on my holidays is also something I have pencilled in.

It is tempting to try and keep the ‘awesome campouts’ simple (simple is really good) but I have a few ideas that might help theme them or make them stand out a bit. I’m going to be asking for ideas and i’m sure there will be a few more but here is a start.

  • Mid-week campout – the classic 5-9 microadventure – go somewhere awesome but close to a station after work, get back to the desk by 9am the next day
  • Bushcraft theme – light a fire, make a beer can stove, learn some essential knots, build a shelter, basics of navigation and map-reading (and more?)
  • Cliff-top bivvy – Thinking beachy head (seven sisters)
  • Cycle bivvy – I particularly fancy a cycle to Ditchling Beacon, get to the top and campout there (go into brighton the next day).
  • Storytelling – Ask a professional storyteller along to give us an amazing atmospheric story on a suitable hilltop or in a wood. Small charge (£5 each) for the storyteller.
  • Swim Bivvy – find a spot near some relatively safe water and all have a dip before bed.
  • Beach Bivvy – Sleeping on a beach (preferably a remote one) is on my tick list

Sounds like a lot of fun!

Microadventure – Coombe Hill, Wendover

It started with wanting to continue doing a camp out every month. After going on my own last time I thought I’d chance my arm and see if there were any other fools who wanted to sleep out (without even a tent) in a December Christmas camp out.

Going Christmas camping tonight!

A few mentions in the Project Awesome and Yes Tribe facebook groups and I somehow got 20 people signing up. I was still a tiny bit skeptical as to how many would actually come but totally delighted that we numbered 16 on the night.

The train zoomed us from London out to Wendover in the chilterns and I had a gang of lovely awesomeites ready to go. This was when I realised that I’d left the actual map at home. No problem as a couple of people had been there before. Only they couldn’t remember the way. Bugger.

A quick look at google maps, a bit of guesswork and probably a dollop of luck meant that in 30 odd (very muddy) minutes we were standing on a very windy Coombe Hill. We then had the fun task of finding a good camping spot for 16 people where we could set up some shelter.

Coombe hill microadventure

Using a handy tree with a long hanging branch we muddled together some tarpaulins to make a group shelter. Sorted.

Coombe hill camp out

We then sat around on this not-too cold a night, pooling an amazing spread of sugary food and booze. I’m still smiling at the effort everyone made to make it a brilliant night. We chatted, we laughed, there might even have been an effort at a carol. What a superb bunch of people! If you want to get a bit muddy and sit around on a very windy night with a bunch of friends and soon-to-be-friends I can recommend these people!

I won’t lie, it was a very very windy night and the expected rain arrived around 3.20am. The main thing that kept me awake was the loud flapping of my own tarp! I did do some sleeping though. We woke up to a grey morning but the view was still pretty good.

Coombe hill microadventure

I got talking to a photographer at the memorial who said that he was there the night before and saw a herd of cows trundling past. Thank goodness they didn’t come through our camp!

Camp out fun, the morning after

Chequers in the background

After packing up we had a warming brew of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and even sausage and bacon butties. Obviously we continued with the left overs from the night before too! Afterwards we walked back to Wendover and whizzed back to London. Job done.

Coombe hill Microadventure

Coombe hill Microadventure

We even stumbled on this bit of ‘Knit Bombing’ on the way back.

What a wonderful night out made special by such fantastic people! Can’t wait till the next one!