Microadventure #1 - Walk to Work
The term microadventures was coined by Alastair Humphreys, named National Geographic Adventurer of the year for his work on the idea. A microadventure is exactly what is says on the tin, a small adventure. They typically cost very little, if anything, and can happen in your garden, local area or slightly further afield. The idea is that you don't have to travel or spend to have an epic adventure, it's more about imagination and attitude.
The simple idea has become much more relevant in our current era as we move even closer to technology, long working hours, hefty travel footprints and an increase in mental health issues. Microadventures are a really easy way to spice up the every day, improve your quality of life, your overall health and well-being, and your relationships with others who are willing to join you. It also encourages you to grow your sense of adventurous spirit!
We have a fantastic team of staff with a wide variety of outdoor skills, so we thought that we would share more of our own local activity ideas on a regular basis – practice what you preach right? The outdoors should be accessible for all, so over the next few months we will be sharing a variety of microadventures that can be done easily, with a little inspiration and a can-do attitude.
Our premiere microadventure is one that can easily fit around your 9-5, walking to work. Perhaps aiming a little too high for our first effort, our Sales team decided to walk the 12.5 miles from Derby, to Mount Cook Centre in Wirksworth to try and arrive in time for work.
The view over the Ecclesbourne Valley from the Ecclesbourne Way
CHOOSING THE ADVENTURE
Bryony: It's a drive that I have done over a thousand times since starting work at Mount Cook, the landscape is wonderful at every time of year and even from the road you can see so much wildlife, so it's always been an area that I wanted to explore in more detail.
Madeline: Bryony pitched the idea of walking to work from her house a couple of weeks ago, I was keen to join in and get the most of out of the early Autumn weather. My walk to work is only 5 minutes so this was slightly more strenuous!
Madeline: Head torches, hot coffee, snickers bars and the infamous Mount cook can-do attitude!
Bryony: Probably not enough food in hindsight, but plenty of warm layers, water and good directions were all we really needed.
Bryony: The only route I knew was the main road which had little or no grass verge and had traffic going at national speed-limit. I had heard about the Ecclesbourne Valley which took you from Duffield to Wirksworth and was tempted to give it a try. I googled the route and found some very descriptive instructions.. thought it would be an adventure to give them a go!
Madeline: They read like a friend is directing you. While both of us know our way around an Ordnance Survey, we were a bit apprehensive about following such colloquial directions. Turned out they were an absolute saviour - I recommend printing them out if you're thinking of tackling the route.
Feeling chirpy after finally being able to see where we are going
Madeline: We started in the pitch black, with only one good head torch between us (battery failings). Even though it was a clear night, there didn’t seem to be a lot of moonlight either. The very first field we got to had a very large and very curious horse who immediately came charging over to us and blocked the gate. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a horse rush you in the complete darkness with your headtorch reflecting in its eyes, but it was a little bit scary!
Bryony: We also disturbed a field full of cows and calves in the dark who decided that running towards us was a good way to scare us off - it definitely worked and we had to blindly find our way back to another footpath and onto the road just to avoid that particular field. Finding your way in the dark was a new experience for us both and definitely put us out of our comfort zones for a couple of hours! The sun soon came up though and from dawn onward the walk was magical.
Madeline: The animals started to show their faces at this point – we spotted bats and bluebirds, kestrels and buzzards, and plenty more cows and sheep. It was quite lovely being the only walkers on the trail. Throughout the entire walk we only crossed paths with one dog walker!
Dawn arriving after 3 hours of walking
Bryony: We were a grand total of 6 hours from door to door! To be honest it took a lot longer than we anticipated, mostly due to us both being afraid of cows (and I was brought up on a farm, oh the shame) but as we were not used to being out in the dark, it was a disorientating experience. I would definitely recommend trying it though, there was no one else around and it was very memorable.
Madeline: Thankfully our Boss is just as enthusiastic about microadventures and maintaining a work/life balance!
Madeline: Only try a route this long that you have never done before, if you have warned your manager that you may be a tad late if things don't go to plan. Try your head torch before leaving if venturing into the dark, we could have been quicker if we had been able to see better. It's very possible to go on cool adventures during the work/school week if you have preparation, motivation, and co-workers as crazy as you!
Bryony: Walking my normal commute has given me a whole new perspective for the drive that do twice daily. I also found that for the rest of the day, I was noticing small bits of nature that I would otherwise ignore, such as nice flower beds and small bugs. This microadventure, although long, is definitely one that anyone could adopt and make their own. Grab a map, have a look at an alternative route, pack a bag of snacks and give it a go. Even if you work further away, you could drive part way then start your walk. Even take the bus for a section. There are so many options!
Keith the Mount Cook Kiwi
Let us know if you are planning your own local microadventure by sharing your ideas and pictures with us. Watch this space for more microadventures from the other members of the Mount Cook team!