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Please can you Help with my Microadventure Book?

I am writing a book about Microadventures at the moment. It will be available early next summer, though I have to complete the manuscript by the end of this month.

If you have enjoyed the microadventures idea then I need your help!

I have two quick questions for you. Question 1 is the most important.

Question 1.

As well as the “stories” of different microadventures I have done, the book will have lots of short instructional chapters. These will be along the lines of “Microadventure Kit List” and “How to Find a Place to Sleep Wild”. Because I have done this sort of thing so often I fear I forget how much other people do not know (in the nicest possible way!).

So my question is this: what useful, instructional information would you like to see included in the book?

Question 2.

Books by famous people often begin with a couple of pages of quotes from prestigious newspaper reviews or other famous people. Stuff like,

“Jamie Oliver’s tips on boiling an egg have really helped me with my egg boiling” – Barrack Obama.

I really want this book to be one that is not only nice to read, but also actually persuades people to head out and sleep on a hill for the first time. To that end I want to begin my book with quotes from non-famous, not-very-adventurous people who went on their first microadventure and found some benefit from it.

So my question is this: please will you write a short endorsement of the “idea” of microadventures and why you like them? I will use some of them in the book. For example:

“I have always enjoyed reading about adventure but never considered trying it for myself. I was too busy, too old and too unfit. I decided to try sleeping on a hill one night and loved it. It helped me relax, to refocus my work/life balance and it was fun!” – John Smith, 45, IT accounts manager, Slough.

Thank you.

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Comments

  1. I’d like to see some ideas on what is legal / illegal when wild camping and how to find this out when in various countries.
    Also I find route maps for traffic free cycling invaluable. It always surprises me how few people use these and how many pedal down the main road!

    Reply
  2. Sharon Somerville Posted

    Question 1: It is all about the gear. Quality with a design, fit for purpose. Bivvy bag has to be the best you can manage; suitable for season and terrain and the human who sleeps therein. Then sleeping mat, sleeping bag and so on…Identify the minimal ‘stuff’ required.

    Question 2: Alastair, I first met you in the hallways of Qarmartalik School, Resolute Bay. I don’t know if you remember, but we talked about Edinburgh. Here at the moment looking after grandchildren with Oct. school holidays looming.///Most of my microadventures have been on the West Coast of Scotland, esp. on Mull and Iona. Consider Iona: there’s only one designated camping area, on a sheep farm, away from the sea. But, I cheat. Instead of a tent, I use a bivvy bag, concealing same between rocks and moving it about various beaches. Sound of the sea all night long and a change of scene every morning. I’m 65 and will continue my wee adventures until I drop.

    Reply
  3. Dan Knapp Posted

    Question 1:
    How about a list of things which people used to camping might think to bring, but which they can do without? You presumably have a lot of space/weight saving tips. I come into microadventuring from a backpacking background, and I’m packing too much kit each time.

    I would assume you will include a list of stuff to bring. A second list of what you can do without might be quite interesting.

    Question 2:
    I took my 4-year old son out on a microadventure. We slept in a bivi bag under the stars, and it remains one of the most special things we have done together.
    Dan (31, teacher) and Leo (4, unemployed) from Canterbury, Kent

    Reply
    • Rob Andrews Posted

      I agree about your ‘what not to bring’ list.

      I used to bring too much stuff, too. Now I can cook and bivi anywhere, any time of year, with a waterproof 30 litre rucksack.

      Things that I no longer bring:
      Cutlery (Just take a swiss army penknife, plus a lhoon or lhfoon from Alpkit)
      Change of clothes (I still bring clean socks and pants)
      Towel
      Deodorant
      Spare batteries
      Spare anything!

      Reply
  4. vivien neely Posted

    A few ideas for a first adventure would be good because big adventures are made up of lots of little ones

    Reply
  5. 1.
    How do I ensure I don’t get wet when sleeping wild? …And if I do get wet, what is the best way to warm up / dry out / ensure the night is as fun as possible?

    When you take some cooking pots / crockery etc out on a microadventure (especially those 5-9 ‘school-night’ adventures, how do you clean them, or do you just leave them until you next return home?

    How do I convince loved ones that wild camping is not completely mad?

    What precautions should be taken to ensure I don’t get eaten alive by creepy crawlies (mosquitoes, tics)?

    2.
    I have never been as inspired by a book as much as Moods of Future Joys (except Thunder and Sunshine). After reading, my perspective on life radically changed and have since travelled Europe (twice! In a tent!) with my wife and children! Encouraged by Alastair’s Microadventures, In 2013 I have tried new things, enjoyed many nights of wild camping under the stars, and focused on enjoying our country’s wonderful National Parks.

    Reply
  6. Euan Cameron Posted

    1. Useful instructional advice – “Don’t Panic!” … a) don’t panic that you do not know where you are going, where you are going to stop and sleep, when it is going to be dark soon instead suggest a comfortable timeframe to work within to do all tasks before kipping … b) don’t panic that you feel restricted inside a bivvy bag for the first time, you won’t suffocate inside it and you can get in/out of it quickly by pulling on togs, why not practice with getting in/out in your bag on your living room floor first … c) don’t panic about wildlife, you can her many animals far away that seem near, animals will in general not come near you, but if you do come face-to-face with a hedghog treat it as an amazing experience!

    2. Endorsement of the “idea” of microadventures … microadventures are a transformative experience, even the smallest microadventure will open your mind and widen your world – you will feel a different better person afterwards!

    Reply
  7. Hi Al,

    1) how to handle being caught (suggest wearing a big smile!), is it worth taking your cooking gear? I’ve read a lot accounts of microadventures and almost all mention the boogeyman at some point, perhaps a paragraph on how to appease him (I always leave some biscuits on my x-plate and I’m happy to report no boogeyman attacks yet)

    2) many of us have dreams of adventure, huge dreams. Sometimes these dreams are so big and intimidating that they can root you to the spot.

    A microadventure is tiny, requires minimal investment yet still exposes me to similar challenges, excitement and the unexpected beauty of the wilderness that lies at the end of my road.

    They allow me to feel that thrill of pushing my boundaries while remaining in the boarders of my county, and finances.

    Hope that spiel helps 🙂

    Reply
  8. Hi Al,

    Some information on where you can or can’t have a fire and some general advice about fires, clearing up etc would be good. I’ve not tried a microadventure yet but am looking forward to getting out there at some point

    Reply
  9. Steve Coffey Posted

    Question 1) Some basic info on legalities is helpful and encourages those who are tentative. For example, info about where you can and can’t light fires, public rights of way etc. To be honest, just a set of links or pointers to further information would be great.
    Question 2). The microadventure idea has started a quiet revolution in our household and in my office. The beauty is it punctures the myth that adventures are expeditions that take months of planning, require superhuman endurance or are the preserve of an elite group of professionals. My family, friends and colleagues have been inspired to find the spare time we all thought didn’t exist (it was right under our noses) and wring every last drop out of it; we opened our eyes and simply started enjoying the places around us that we’d taken for granted, the ones on the edges of our narrow maps and our narrow vision. We’re all adventurers now.

    Reply
  10. James Tindall Posted

    Question 2: I’ve spent many years writing and reading about other people’s adventures but always thought I had too many commitments and not enough time or money to do my own. Microadventures opened my eyes to the fact an adventure doesn’t need to be a solo motorcycle trek across Mongolia. They can be found in my neighbourhood.

    Reply
  11. “I didn’t know that I am microadventurer for many years before I found Alastair ideas and moves last week. Well done”
    Wieslaw “Vislav” Milenko, 59, marketing manager, Swinoujscie

    Reply
  12. Lucy Wyman Posted

    I’d like to see a few tips on how to select the best location to wild camp and the minimal equipment to take. I always pack more than I use!
    Q2) I love following Alastair’s microadventures to get new ideas for our own trips. I’d never bivvied out until we took up the Summer solstice challenge; our night in a storm on top of a hill in Dorset was memorable, hilarious and enriching.

    Reply
  13. John Mitchell Posted

    – Question 1 –
    I would guess that most people reading your book will be somewhat keen to give it a go so perhaps some good practical advice on very simple micro-adventures, especially those requiring little or no kit, fitness, preparation and so on.

    – Question 2 –
    I have always valued ‘adventure’ but assumed they had to span weeks or months to qualify. The realisation that you can squeeze them in around virtually any commitments was liberating. Adventures create memories and they are what I live for.

    Reply
  14. When it comes to the first question, i remember my first adventures where i couldn’t quite decide what food to take and how to supply myself with water without carrying too much. I guess that people new to microadventures could find this helpful.
    Question 2:
    Adventures, big or small, put my life in perspective. It’s far too easy to forget about our beautiful surroundings. We tend to ignore things that we are exposed to all the time, but they have so much in them to be explored! Thinking of a woodland I’ve been running through for past few years…and suddenly, I got lost. Just notice how landscape look in different times of year, even different times of a day!

    Reply
  15. Some pointers on wild swimming, knowing when the waters safe to swim, that it’s generally ok to swim in natural rural lakes etc. and when to avoid. Also, maybe include how to stay dry when bivvying (I take a light tarp).

    Endorsement: For me, the beauty of going on a micro-adventure for the first time was that it acted as a first step, to bigger and richer adventures that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the courage to undertake.

    Reply
  16. 1 – Advice on midgies in Scotland….

    2 – I like microadventures as they can be quite spontaneous, not requiring a great deal of planning. The result of which can surprise and inspire people.

    Reply
  17. Andrew Dodds Posted

    1 – Advice on how to plan for a Microadventure put in plain English (proves that anyone can do it)
    2 – Sometimes all you need is a gentle shove to get you into trying something you have never done before. The #microadventure was a perfect opportunity for me to treat bivvying the same way as I treat my daily commute.

    Reply
  18. 1.) I think that the most useful info (other than what you listed) would be specific ideas and examples. I think that it lowers the barrier to entry to get good inspiration on how you can turn everyday matters that are often unconscious into microadventures. For the average person (or microadventure newbie), the hardest part of starting is recognizing that you can turn the everyday occurrences into an adventure. Seeing how other people turned something simple like “I live pretty close to my parents house” into “I’m going to walk to my parents house on the M25” really helps to shift your mindset into recognizing what you have right in front of you or in your own back yard, and what is truly possible.

    In addition, I think a few basic principle points on how you can train yourself to adapt a microadventure mindset would be helpful. For example, one I’ve used to come up with some of my most memorable adventures is “LOOK AT IT UPSIDE DOWN.” If you normally hike it during the day, what about hiking it at night under a full moon without a flashlight? If you usually drive that route, what would happen if you walked it? If everyone does _____ in the summer, what would it look like if you did it in the winter? That’s really the whole idea of microadventures, is it not? Turn the idea of what a proper adventure is on its head. A few pages on 5-10 “starter” exercises on shifting your mind set would be great when you are stuck for ideas or lack inspiration.

    I’ll re-comment if I think of anything else (in addition to kit lists and other “how-to” chapters).

    2.) Stop the excuses. You are NOT too busy, too tired, too poor, or too uninspired, lacking the correct gear, lacking the correct friends, or lacking the motivation to have a “proper” adventure. Try a single microadventure, just one; you’ll understand that it really is as easy and as wonderful as it sounds. Reclaim your childhood enthusiasm for adventure and start living life as a game again. You have no excuses.

    Reply
  19. Q1: How to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

    What makes or breaks interest in getting out for most people is whether or not they can actually get a proper night’s sleep. It amazes me how many seasoned campers lay awake most of the night only to rise broken and drag themselves home to their bed.

    For a microadventure to work you need rest, or going to work the next day is going to get old fast.

    Sort out a good sleeping system – a nice warm sleeping bag (warmer than you might think you need) and a good ground mat. Bring a wee inflatable pillow, they cost very little and will help you avoid neck strain.

    Hard man talk about doing with the bare essentials is just self aggrandising rubbish when talking to a newcomer, a newcomer needs tips which helps them find comfort in the outdoors.

    2)

    Microadventures get you into that habit of getting out there an enjoying the wild regularly, rather than sitting on the sofa watching survival shows waiting for the big trip which never happens.

    When annual leave runs low at work or when family commitments constrict your time, a microadventure somewhere near to hand is still possible and will give you that little refreshing boost you need without all the planning and overhead of a large trip.

    Getting out and enjoying the outdoors is not something “other people do”

    Reply
  20. walter joris Posted

    In the Netherlands and Flanders we have a system of free camping called “paalkamperen” (pole camping). In the neighborhood of that pole anyone can camp free. There is also water. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland.. there are often wooden shelters in the woods. You can stay overnight there without much problems. In France bivouacking is allowed, so for 1 night.

    Reply
  21. John-William Hepper Posted

    Q2. I’m a 20 year old student studying Biology. For me, micro-adventures allow me to feel alive. They are an escape from pressure and work and allow me to feel free in a way that no other hobby does. It’s not hard, it’s not expensive and it is incredibly liberating. If you have not seen the film ‘Into the Wild’, then watch it. Or read the book by Jon Krakauer of the same title. It’s really inspiring.

    For anyone who has never done anything wild and outdoorsy – do it, you won’t regret it!

    Reply
  22. Jason Clark Posted

    I have seen a few suggestions on the legality and safety of where and when it’s possible to wild camp in the UK and I think this is a very important part of any adventure into the countryside, especially this time of year when the Game shooting and deer stalking seasons are starting. Although the specific laws on trespassing are complicated, the principle is simple – if you’re not sure, find a land owner to ask. What may seem like a great, secluded place to set up for the night may also be on private land where a game keeper has spent the last 3 months rearing £30,000 worth of Partridge or Pheasant poults and would therefore not appreciate them being frightened off just before a big shoot. Worse still, you may wake in the morning to find yourself surrounded by a gaggle of tweed clad gentlemen armed with shotguns and hip-flasks – always a good combination. These safety aspects are very important.
    Much of these issues may seem like common sense to many however if someone is just starting out on their path to Microadventures and have previously not spent much time in the countryside, it may not be something they know about to take into consideration.

    Reply
  23. Question 1: “how to amuse yourself whilst microadventuring”

    Waking up briefly in the open air at night is an odd experience. The mind soon relaxes into a state of cheeky satisfaction (I’ve been lucky with weather), and strange thoughts fill the peaceful void. For me, looking up at the stars I had a strange sensation that they were actually underneath me and I was looking down at them – for some unknown reason I was glued to the earth! Back to sleep.

    Anyone else have bizarre but entertaining thoughts while out there?

    Question 2:

    JFDI

    Reply
  24. q1: as much as I like the 5-9 ethos, I think most people will be doing this on a fri/sat night, at least for the first time, so maybe play that down a little. I think finding that first site is a bug hurdle – go for a recce walk beforehand & scope it out, at least the first time. the second time is so much easier

    q2: “I’d been meaning to do this sort of thing for years & always coming up with reasons why not. read Al’s blog & thought “why not?” & went & did it – cheers Al :)” – Andy, Global Telecoms Network Designer/Geek, London

    Reply
  25. Q2 – I have walked, climbed and cycled for many years and I get the microadventure label, they have kept me sane for many years. I have never really had the time (due to work) to have a big (time) adventure. The most satisfying microadventure for me is solo walking and wild camping in the lakedistrict. It put my irational fears or vivid imagination into perspective so that it started working for me and not against me.There is, for me, nothing more enjoyable than after a warm night to open the tent flap to a sunny snow covered lakeland scene the next morning knowing you are alone, whole and safe in the world.

    Reply
  26. Q1 – what you really need to take. I have walked short and long distances for years and my gear getslighter every time so a list of what you do not need would be very useful.
    Q2 – For me there is nothing better than solo wild camping, there is something very special about being in wild places alone, it has given me the ability to ‘feel the fear and do it any’ in many areas of my life. On my first few wild camps alone my over active imagination had me eaten by wild animals or murdered by an escaped inmate, every change in the wind and movement of the canvas sparked fear. These irrational fears are now long gone and the pure joy of listening to the wind and rain, waking to a dusting of snow gives me immence and indescribable joy.

    Reply
  27. 1: Practical stuff about where’s good for camping. Less “always camp in a valley shielded from wind with access to fresh water at least 1.3 miles from the nearest settlement”. More: that most people will let you camp in their field if you ask; although technically not allowed, in reality, no one cares if you pitch discreetly at sunset; and the chances of an axe wielding psychopath being in the area are minimal.

    Also, a bit like Dan Knapp said above, you could have a sort of anti-kit list or “Things you don’t need to bring”. Not snooty, just highlighting some stuff that experienced campers take for granted (for example, I remember taking “spare jeans” on my first hike whilst my friend carried a fresh pressed shirt and an electric tooth brush).

    And explain *why* you don’t need those bits of kit e.g. you don’t really need spare clothes because it’s a short trip and you’ll smell anyway (and jeans are heavy).

    Reply
  28. 1. Agree with much of what has been said. Additionally, especially if people want to take kids,maybe activities to keep them occupied would be of use.

    When wanting to do a really random microadventure play the dice game. Set of dice with each number corresponding to equipment; location; type of trip etc. For example 1= Bike 2= Hike 3= Coast 4= Moor or whatever takes your fancy.

    Equally take a square of map you want to explore split in a 6×6 grid and role for co-ordinates. Keeps things very random and exciting.

    Reply
  29. Alastair-
    Q1: Make sure you include a bit about the beer-can alcohol stove. That was one of my favourites! Make sure to include some of your fantastic photos in the book as well. Can’t wait to see which you choose.
    Q2: One of the great things I discovered about microadventures is that you don’t have to travel across the world, continent, or country to lose yourself enough to earn a good story and a great beer. It’s a great feeling to be able to look out during your daily commute and say, “I hiked/biked/kakayed that.”

    Reply
  30. 1. The bit that has always put me off getting in a bivvy bag and sleeping under a bridge or in the middle of a corn field is the thought of rats or other fluffy type rodents joining me.
    Any tips?
    Feel free to tell me to just ‘man up’!

    Reply
  31. Lorne read Posted

    I first attended a talk by Alistair in 2007 or 2008 about his trip around the world by bike

    A year later I was setting of myself for a trip by bike around Europe

    I was shitting myself and so in the calm of the night before I sent Alistair an email telling him he had inspired me and what I was about to do

    Within moments he emailed me back saying the hardest part is going through the door. And that is definitely the case

    Since then I’ve bought every book and even PayPal a coffee or 2

    Al has change not only my activities but also the way I think

    For that I cannot thank him enough

    Reply
  32. Peter Goulding Posted

    1. What to say to neighbours when they tactfully ask WTF you were doing heading out with a rucksack at 10 o’clock on a weeknight. I’d like to see something about treeclimbing and buildering as well (if it fits with the concept) cause there’s no rock where I live. And the importance of sweets.
    2. Until I slept out in the woods at the back of my house I’d never been frightened by the hoofsteps of deer, nor heard a badger snuffle past my bivi in the night. When I woke up, the footprints were there in the frost.

    Reply
  33. Jack Watson Posted

    Arriving back to work in the Emergency Department feeling more fresh and alive than ever, only to cover my first patient in sand. An apologetic explanation transforms into a few more inspired souls budding for their first microadventure!

    Reply
  34. You will be covering micro-adventuring in the UK. I live in Canada and my hiking with my dog brings me into contact with many wild animals that you don’t have (wolves, black bears, cougars, grizzlies, etc.). But I believe many of your suggestions may come in handy for me.

    All the suggestions in the above posts make lot of sense. Since you are a great photographer in the making, I will request you to include some practical tips on photography too.

    And try to retain the interesting way of writing, perhaps starting by a quote or a dramatic beginning to get interest at the outset.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      This is indeed going to be a very UK-focussed book. Hopefully there will be future books in more fun countries… 😉

      Reply
  35. Tobias grotendiek Posted

    important question:
    -What would be neat if you would pack challenges throughout the book. because that is basically the reason of your book….to inspire people to go out.
    -do you follow your instincts when searching for a sleeping spot or do you extra go to the places you normally wouldn´t?
    -what´s the best lou paper?
    -how can I go on an adventure without packing/taking anything?
    -how do I get over the first big question after I step out of the door…left or right?? how do I get over the fear of failure and lower the expectations for the adventure? (- it´s about getting out there and starting. if the one thing didn´t work you can always still do a different thing next time. mostly the ideas come once you are out there.)
    -how can I find drinkable water?

    quote:
    -One day Alastair will be old, but then it´s our part to pass on the inspiration and stories to the next generation of adventurestarters. So go out there and collect your own mosaic of microadventures!
    -Tobias Grotendiek.

    responsibility through reading.

    Reply
  36. paul cosway Posted

    En route to the Isle of Mann nursing a hangover, for a cycling Micro adventure around the entire island and hoping to see the tailless cat and four horned sheep. Saw neither. I left my bag with all my gear in, on the train to Liverpool. I had to wear a pair of Oxfam shorts for 2days that were 4 sizes too big (what can you do for £1) it rained, all day, both days. We arrived in Port Errin at 2:10pm on the last leg and the chip shop stopped serving at 2, as did the pub…..After all this, it’s still one of my favourite trips this year

    Reply

 
 

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