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Island Camp

As a boy I loved adventurous stories such as Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons. I envied their adventures: sailing dinghies to small islands sounded like paradise.

Here’s the thing: it still sounds like paradise to me. Perhaps I haven’t really grown up. Or perhaps being “grown up” does not mean that our yearning for adventure and wilderness abates? Maybe it is actually adults – short of time, short of patience, full of ambition, full of frustration – who can really benefit from a night away from it all?

My first microadventure of the year argued the case for the three-hour microadventure. That three hours away from your desk will not harm your productivity, but will improve it. This second microadventure continues that idea. We began at roughly 3pm and were home, warm and dry again, before 10 the next morning.

Inspired by the spirit of Swallows and AmazonsTom, Ferg and I decided to sleep on an island for a night. To keep the equipment and logistics as simple as possible, and to maximise the sense of challenge and adventure, we decided that we would swim to our island (with a packraft to carry our gear / rescue us if we were about to die). This would have been a very good idea, had it not been a very, very cold February day…

But whenever you think, “this is an exciting idea” and immediately follow that by thinking, “this is a very stupid idea” then you know you are on to a good thing and that you will surely regret it if you wimp out.

So we swam.

We squealed. (At least, I squealed. The others were more stoic). The water was extraordinarily cold.

We shivered.

We smiled.

We lit a fire.

We cooked meat. We drank wine. We chatted and laughed. Stepping back from your life, if only for one night, offers perspective.

We lay in bivvy bags, looking up at the stars through the gently swaying trees until we fell asleep.

The swim back to shore in the morning was harsh and brutal and a bloody severe wake-up.

And then we returned to the real world. I jumped on a train and began answering emails.

But I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this microadventure. How simple it was. How cheap. How un-time-consuming. How important it is to hit the “refresh and restart” button on our busy lives now and again.

I urge you to give something like this a go. The worst thing that can happen is that you hate it and realise that actually you love normal life and a warm, comfy bed. And that’s no bad thing to be reminded of.

Far more likely is that you will treasure the microadventure whilst simultaneously getting a better perspective on and appreciation of your normal life, the “real world” that lies off your island and across the cold, clear lake…

Wild Swimmers

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And if you do go on a microadventure of your own, please do let me know!

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  1. Excellent post – I enjoy your madness! :0)
    What was the backing track, please?

  2. I think I recognise the island. Without giving it away, does it start with a P (please Bob)? South Lakes I may well be wrong. Looked a cracking little idea for a microadventure and given me plenty of new ideas for later this year. Really, really, enjoying the new microadventure posts this year even better than the big expedition ones I have to say because they are for the everyman like myself and accessible please keep up the inspiring work.

  3. Ha! Insane – I shivered just watching that! Lovely little film, and enjoyed your music choice there too.

  4. Wow! I wanna do it! Can barely swim a length but still, wow!

    Great idea and great collection of micro adventures.

    How did you get your gear across?

    • Alastair Posted

      Normally I would just put the gear in a bin bag (it floats fine), but it was so cold we took a packraft with us for safety. This also meant we could carry a massive amount of firewood with us too!

  5. So basically you all need girlfriends.
    But seriously, I did really enjoy this. Thanks a lot.

  6. Very good, really enjoyed watching. Interesting to hear your mate saying that he only lives a few mins from Windermere but rarely makes trips like this one. I only live ten mins from Loch Lomond but have not had my kayak out this year.

    The whole idea of ‘Microadventure’ could also be expressed as ‘Not so many excuses’ because it involves minimal kit, time and cost.

    Might be time to dust off the boat…

    Cheers, T

    Ps loved the music this time!

  7. I think my stomach got it’s usual ‘getting into cold water’ workout just watching that! Looks nuts, total lunacy but equally fantastic and I can see a packraft getting added to my birthday wishlist.

  8. Thanks Alastair, enjoyed that. On getting out more, this little film about a vagabond piano tuner might be of interest. It seems even us Londoners don’t have any excuses!

    The rest of the series is worth a watch too.

  9. I love this. All of it.

  10. You are truly crazy and truly inspiring. Thanks!

  11. Levente-Károly Görög Posted

    You know, it does really resonates in me when you say “Stepping back from your life, if only for one night, offers perspective”. And what is fascinating to me, only reading this post does it as well (just as Alastair’s “There are other rivers” blog post inspired us to follow his footsteps along the Kaveri in India). Thanks a lot for these sparks of the adventurer’s spirit (I start to believe such thing exists in all of us).

  12. I think a micro-adventure sounds like an amazing idea. I used to go kayaking in the dark after school/work with my Dad as a teenager. Breaks up the monoteny!



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