Words and Photography by Emma Lavelle
Just because you work a nine-to-five, doesn’t mean that you don’t yearn for adventure. Breaking away from the rigmarole of manic meetings, packing up only your essential belongings and disappearing into the sunset may be the dream; but it’s a dream that very few of us actually manage to carry out.
Whether you live in a tiny flat suffocated within a bustling city, a suburban semi with a generous back garden, or a quaint little cottage in the countryside, it is still possible to experience adventure in your everyday life whilst maintaining a job, rent or a mortgage. There is wilderness all around us, if you know where to look.
Your mornings, your evenings and your weekends are sacred. It is these brief flashes of time that allow you to disappear from the rat race and embark on escapades worthy of your favourite travel blog or an Enid Blyton book. Seize the day, take these small pockets of time and disappear from the beady eye of social networking. Jump on a bus, on your bike, or in the back of a car filled with your nearest and dearest, and get out into the great unknown.
Look up your closest wild swimming hotspot, grab your swimsuit (or wetsuit, season dependent), a towel and a pair of those nifty jelly swim shoes, and make your way there. There is nothing more invigorating than splashing around in a freezing cold lake, surrounded by woodland, a mere hour after you were sat at your desk. Squealing with joy as you plunge into the icy depths, hopping around when you emerge to try to warm up, and running into bushes to change back into your clothes out of sight is all part of the fun.
Drive out to the countryside after you’ve clocked out for the day, find your nearest hill, and climb. Take blankets and friends, and when you have reached the summit, sit back and watch the sun set, marvelling in the colours that dance across the sky. Lay back on the ground and wait for the sky to darken so you can attempt to count the stars, lighting up the sky without the barrier of light pollution.
Huddling around an open fire is as primeval as it gets. If you live by the coast, gather up a pile of driftwood and build a fire on the beach, roasting marshmallows on sticks until they reach that perfect consistency of chargrilled on the outside, gooey in the middle. Trek into your local woods, pull together a pile of dry wood for a fire and enjoy being outdoors at night. Even building a fire pit in your own back garden can feel more adventurous than snuggling up on the sofa watching DVDs.
It’s not hard to escape the city and find yourself amongst countryside, moors, woodland or mountains. Even in London, you can seek to discover a hidden corner of Hampstead Heath or Richmond Park. Plan a weekend camping trip, away from commercial campsites. Up in Scotland, pretty much anywhere goes for wild camping – you could pitch your tent on the shore of a loch, the bank of a river, or half way up a mountain. Walk across a moor or hike up a hill – over the course of a couple of hours, a full day or an entire weekend. Trek through a forest foraging for mushrooms, berries and wild herbs (be completely sure you know what you’re doing before you eat anything!), then cook on a stove outside your tent. Pack only a map, a compass and survival essentials and test your limits – knowing that you’re only an hour away from home.
Look to adventure blogger Alastair Humphreys for inspiration. The author is dedicated to what he terms as ‘micro adventures’, easy to plan adventures that are close to home and suitable for everyone. His escapades include after-work hill climbing, swimming in rivers and camping out in a bivvy bag under the stars; utilising the hours of 5pm – 9am to work your adventures around your job.
Pack light, take a friend, and go wild.