Why a microadventure is good for the soul…

I wrote about planning my first microadventure here. This is about the reality of what happened.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a large part of my adult life working and playing in the outdoors. I have been an outdoor instructor in some capacity (full time, part time and voluntary) for the last ten years. At some point along that journey, I seemed to have lost my way (both literally and metaphorically at times!).

Being outdoors, and participating in adventurous activities became “something I did”, without really engaging with it, and at times, not particularly enjoying it. I stopped climbing after I broke my elbow, and never went back to it, and as a result, have lost the little bit of strength I had. I always say that this is the reason I stopped climbing, the reality was that I’d lost my passion for it when I spent so much of my work time instructing ropes activities. I didn’t have the enthusiasm for going out climbing after work with my friends when I’d spent my entire day belaying kids on a climbing wall. In the future, when I have more time to dedicate to it, I’d like to get back to climbing and maybe even complete my CWA assessment. (I was on one of the first training courses in the country back in 2008, and STILL haven’t got round to doing my assessment!).

I’m part of an amazing Facebook community of women with a passion for the outdoors, and seeing their posts about the fantastic things they’d been up to inspired me, I also bought this book, on their recommendation.  Over the last year or so, I’ve not had much opportunity for adventure, and life was feeling a little claustrophobic. I decided I needed to get away, to do something alone and to spend some time being outside and to recharge.

I decided on a one night, solo microadventure in the Peak District. The timing was perfect, I was due in Manchester at 9am the next morning to collect my husband from the airport. I left work in the Midlands around 2pm and made it to the campsite on the outskirts of Edale at 5pm. I had a clear plan in place, the idea was that I would get up at 3am, drive as far as possible up Mam Tor and then walk the approx. 2km to Hollins Cross to watch the sunrise at 4.40am before heading back to the campsite and grabbing a couple of hours sleep before heading to Manchester.

Greenacres Campsite was a great spot to base myself in for this microadventure. It has great facilities, lots of space and amazing hot showers! I pitched close to the campsite entrance so as not to disturb anyone as I left, unfortunately about half an hour later a DofE group started pitching up next to me. After a quick chat with their leaders, they moved further away so they wouldn’t be disturbed by my early start.  I’d taken a creative approach to dinner, mushroom and white wine pasta sauce, tinned potatoes and a chopped up Mattesons smoked sausage, followed by a steamed sponge pudding.

My plan was to go tech free, but I found myself tapping away on my laptop sat in a field writing a blog piece. I’ve decided I’m OK with that, this trip was all about me, relaxing and doing what makes me happy. I often complain that I don’t have enough time to write, so this was the ideal opportunity to focus without any other distractions. I spent the rest of the evening sitting in the sunshine and watching the antics of my other neighbours. 

I headed to bed around 9pm, after checking in with my emergency contact. I didn’t sleep well.  I was incredibly nervous about the hike, not because of the distance or the terrain (it was short and relatively easy), but because I’d be walking alone, and for the first part in the dark. I eventually fell into a fitful sleep after deciding if I really didn’t fancy it, I’d bail out in the morning.

At 3am, my alarm went off, and within 10 minutes I was making my way out of the campsite and up Mam Tor. It was still pitch black at this point and I sat in my car for a few minutes working up the courage to go. As I headed off, I realised that my head torch wasn’t working and for the first few minutes I struggled to see where I was going. As I came round the side of the hill, the first glimmers of daylight appeared on the horizon and suddenly everything felt OK. I stopped and took a lot of photographs along the way, and it took me about an hour to get to Hollins Cross. I still had about 20 minutes until sunrise, and I sat and took in the landscape around me. On one side was the village of Edale and on the other, Castleton. Amongst the street lights below the occasional car headlights came into view. I can’t remember the last time I was so calm and peaceful. I also felt so exhilarated, to have actually pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and connected with nature and the outdoors.

Just before sunrise I was joined by a group of runners, they’d left Edale at midnight and had taken in various summits before arriving at Mam Tor for sunrise. Although my peace and quiet had been disturbed, it was nice to share the experience with others. Due to the cloud it wasn’t a particularly amazing sunrise, but to me, this was about far more than that. To me, the experience was about being alone, outdoors and pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

Two weeks later, and I’m still on a high from the experience. I’m sleeping better and I’m less stressed. Now I’m thinking about how I can make microadventures a regular feature in my life.

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