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Extreme Sleeps and Wild Night Adventures

She may be editor of Wanderlust, the UK’s best global travel magazine, but Phoebe Smith knows that some of the best fun can be had in your own backyard which, if you play it right, will cost nothing at all’¦  Phoebe is the author of Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper.

Alastair: Hi Phoebe! How did your “Extreme Sleeps” idea come about?
Phoebe: About 10 years ago I left uni wide-eyed and desperate to see the world. I went travelling for two years, cut my teeth as a journo, met some incredible people and experienced some truly once-in-a-lifetime encounters. But then I came home. And as is typical post-travel ‘“  I had no money left and I felt that there was nothing exciting to do here at home. Then I started going walking. Short walks became long day walks, walks on easy-to-follow paths became expedition-like forays into wilder and wilder places until eventually I was on my own, wild camping (that is camping away from campsites, toilets and shower blocks) my way around the UK, seeking out wilderness wherever I could find it – which I call Extreme Sleeping.
Alastair: How did this change your perception to adventure and travel?
Phoebe: The best thing about my extreme sleeping is that it’s an adventure that has no end date. I was an instant addict. From surviving my first solo camp, I started to seek out more quirky and unusual places to lay my head ‘“ from bivvying on mountain summits, to nestling underneath boulders and sleeping in the wreckage of an old WWII Superfortress ‘“ the weirder the better. And the best thing about it is that other than transport costs of accessing some of these places from where I walk in, it costs me nothing at all. I love it so much that I wrote a book about it last year in the hope that others, like me, would discover just how much wilderness exists in Britain and be inspired to get outside and explore ‘“ just for the hell of it. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
Alastair: What were a couple of highlights from all your Extreme Sleeps?

Phoebe: Waking up after my first solo wild camp in the mountainous hinterland of Wales, the grass for my mattress, the peaks as my headboard and a glowing sense of achievement that I had survived an adventure without relying on anyone but myself. Later it was visiting and sleeping in the cave of my great outdoor hero – Millican Dalton – in the Lake District.

Alastair: Ha! I’mve been there too!  What practical steps should people take to make their adventure happen?

Phoebe: Learn to love OS maps. In the UK we are blessed with some of the best mapping in the world and OS maps hold the key to showing you wild areas to explore. Once you’ve planned your first wild sleep, pack your bag ready and keep it either by your front door or in the boot of your car ‘“ I call this my ‘œgo bag’. That way when you get the weather window you have no excuse, you’re ready to go.

Alastair: What do you know now that you wish you’d known before your first trip?

Phoebe: That treats are important. Extreme sleeping is all about enjoying not enduring the experience. You want to remember it for the right reasons, so take a camping stove to make hot drinks (and purify water) which will also make you a hot water bottle for a cosy night, and take lots of chocolate/snacks that you love. You can skimp on many things to save weight but food should never be one of them!

Alastair: Any tips on saving for the trip or living cheap during the trip?

Phoebe: It is cheap by very nature, mainly free even, and the rewards you get cannot be bought with money. But do remember that protecting wild places costs nothing too. To help it remain for you and others to enjoy take out all your rubbish with you and if I see rubbish others have left  take out as much of that as you can too – something I always do. Rubbish breeds more rubbish so if we all do our bit these wonderful and free places will last forever and be all the more better for your visit.
Alastair: Is extreme sleeping legal?

Phoebe: Wild camping is legal in Scotland and Dartmoor. In the rest of the UK you are supposed to ask the landowner’s permission first, however this can often be impractical. As the name would suggest, you should be doing this in wild, off-the-beaten-track place, where wild camping is tolerated anyway ‘“ as long as you do it responsibly.  So there’s no need to stress. Follow the wild camping code ‘“ arrive late, leave early, leave no trace of your visit, take all your waste out with you. The worst thing that can happen wild camping? It’s not being eaten by a bear or attacked by a mugger (like many people told me when I first started out!), the worst that can happen is someone will ask you to move on so really there’s only one question left – why not try it? Have fun and above all, enjoy yourself! Then Tweet me your experience using #ExtremeSleeps to @PhoebeRSmith and I will share them.

Alastair: Great idea! If people tag them with #microadventure too then I’mll see them and share them as well.

My new book, Grand Adventures, is out now.
It’s designed to help you dream big, plan quick, then go explore.
The book contains interviews and expertise from around 100 adventurers, plus masses of great photos to get you excited.

I would be extremely grateful if you bought a copy here today!

I would also be really thankful if you could share this link on social media with all your friends – It honestly would help me far more than you realise.

Thank you so much!

Grand Adventures Cover


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