Mid-October is not a time of year many families go camping, let alone camping without a tent and on a remote hill in Wales. But if you don’t, you’re missing out…
With all the day-to-day busy-ness of schools, work, after-school clubs, homework, etc., it can be hard to find time time to take your kids on adventures. However, you can sometimes squeeze in a small adventure at the weekend. That’s the spirit behind Microadventures.
squeeze in a small adventure at the weekend
Do something different, and do it within the time you have available.
A one night doesn’t diminish the experience, as you’ll see…
An Autumn Microadventure
Here’s a little video we made of our adventure.
Our MicroAdventure Diary
14:00 – Assemble Our Kit
Ideally we would have got our kit together ahead of time, but the busy-ness of day-to-day life got in the way (as usual). Fortunately we already had the kit; it was just a matter of getting all together. Click here for a run-down on the kit we took.
I was going to have this microadventure with our youngest, or ‘Bear Grylls Junior’. He had been really exited about the weekend, and was going dressed in his Bear Grylls clothes, taking some of the Bear Grylls Dangerous Den Kit. The plan was a Bear Grylls themed microadventure, but the adventure turned out more than that…
I had to essentially carry the equipment for two people, which presented a few challenges, though BG Junior was carrying as much as he could in his backpack (plus insisted on taking his ‘army’ water bottle).
16:30 – Arrive at Location
With our feet sinking into the mud we set off on our hike.
17:30 – Sun Starts Setting (already!)
The views were amazing. We were quite high and on the distant horizon were the mountains of Snowdonia.
The storm clouds parted and the sun’s rays lit up the countryside.
storm clouds parted and the sun’s rays lit up the countryside
It was spectacular.
The sun was getting low in the sky. Time to head off to where we were spending the night.
18:00 – Making Camp
Technically wild camping is illegal in most parts of the UK (Scotland and Dartmoor are exceptions), though there are some places where it is tolerated if you abide by some simple rules.
We knew the land owners who had kindly gave us permission for us to wild camp on their land.
We decided to take a spot higher up the hill where we could take in the views. This turned out to be a good decision, but did mean there were no trees to attach our tarp shelter to.
We secured the tarp against the slope of the hill on one side, and used walking poles to hold up the tarp at the front. Now we would be protected from any rain showers.
18:30 – Sunset
We were treated to a glorious sunset. Who wouldn’t want to sit and take in a view like this?
Who wouldn’t want to sit and take in a view like this?
18:40 – First Aid
Somehow I had managed to slice the end of my finger when setting up the Trangia. Fortunately we always carry an emergency kit with a basic first aid set.
BG Junior knew what to do and helped tape my finger up.
18:50 – Time to Eat
As part of his ‘army’ experience, I’d bought some mess tins with a little hexi stove.
Although you can get a wide variety of foods for backpacking, we kept things simple and heated some tins of sausages and beans in the mess tins.
sausages and beans in the mess tins
19:30 – You know it’s cold when…
…the chocolate bar you brought makes and audible crunch when you bite it – just as if it had be left in a cold fridge.
You know it’s cold when the chocolate bar you brought makes and audible crunch when you bite it
As the temperature dropped, the BG shell jacket was swapped for the thick Kozi Kidz fleece. This is a great outer layer when it is cold but dry, and kept our BG Junior snug.
20:00 – Milky Way
Not the chocolate bar but the galaxy (again, not that chocolate bar).
You may have seen in books, the internet, and TV pictures of people camping with the sky lit up by millions of stars, and a big cluster of them that stretches across the sky. That’s the Milky Way, and it was right above our head, just 25 minutes drive from home.
The Milky Way right above our head, just 25 minutes drive from home
I tried capturing it on camera, but failed and only managed to get a few stars. A good picture, but just does not show what we saw. We had been transported from being on a hill side in Wales to flying through space. Evening the opening titles of Star Wars doesn’t show anywhere near the number of stars we saw.
transported from being on a hill side to flying through space
Although that wasn’t the only impressive sight in our microadventure, our little lad said that seeing all those stars was the best bit. It’s giving your kids moments like this, is what it’s all about.
giving your kids moments like this is what it’s all about
20:30 – Bed – Slide – Bed
The area we were sleeping in was flat…for a hill.
So after a bit of repositioning ourselves, we eventually found a position where we didn’t slide – so much. A number of times in the night I had to lift BG Junior back up to his bed.
21:30 – What’s that noise?
Just how many different noises can owls make?
05:00 – Very cold
It’s always coldest before dawn and I started to feel the cold creeping in.
I wasn’t properly cold, but I could feel it starting to bite through the sleeping bag, and my face sticking out of the mummy sleeping bag felt the same as when it freezes in winter.
I’d been checking our little lad throughout the night. That Kozi Kidz fleece worked really well. Even when he left his hands sticking outside the sleeping bag, they remained warm.
Extremities like hands and feet are the first to feel the cold as your body tries to keep the warm blood flow at its core. As his hands were warm, I knew he was warm. Mine were cold.
07:30 – Wow!
I had been laying in bed not wanting to wake our BG junior.
When he did wake, he looked out of our shelter and said “Wow!”
This is what we woke up to
This is what we woke up to.
The cold damp air had settled in the valleys below leaving the hills looking like islands in the Sea of Fog.
islands in the Sea of Fog
07:45 – Breakfast
First brew of the day. Coffee, porridge, and more chocolate for BG Junior (at least he wasn’t taking this BG thing too far and trying to eat the bugs!).
First brew of the day
08:15 – Everything is wet
Fortunately this was only a one night camp, so I could pack things up sufficiently for our hike out, and clean and dry things when we get home.
It was Cold & Wet but Utterly Fantastic
If you take the right gear, you can handle cold and wet. The cold and wet is soon forgotten.
What won’t be forgotten so readily, especially for my little lad, was sleeping out in the wilderness (like ‘Bear Grylls’), seeing the sky filled with millions of stars, and waking up to find ourselves looking down on islands in a sea of fog.
Now it’s your turn
You might not be prepared to sleep out during mid-October but don’t dismiss doing something like this. Make a mental note, and when next summer comes around, why don’t you take your kids on your own microadventure.
If you think you need a lot of kit for a microadventure, think again. In the next article we go through some of the kit we took, what worked well, and what worked less well. It includes a little check list of things to take that you can use as a basis for your own microadventure.Part 2: The Microadventure Kit List >>
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