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How-To: Microadventure

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 August 2011

howies microadventure
Last Monday, Alastair Humphreys came down to see us in Cardigan. We'd arranged to go on a Microadventure - an adventure close to home that is cheap, easy to organise and most of all, fun!

So, what if you're new to the world of adventures? Alastair's got a few tips for you mind out of the daily grind and taking the plunge into the world of Microadventures...

It's been more than fifteen years since I began enjoying sleeping in wild and wonderful places. I guess I've spent about a thousand nights sleeping outdoors. Out of all those probably only about ten have been in a 'proper' campsite.

I've slept on top of England's highest mountain on New Year's Eve and on the northern tip of Britain in midsummer week.

I have also spent many nights without a tent -bivvying- and these are often the most magical of all. (Not always, mind!). I've bivvied on hill tops, seashores, even on a swimming platform out at sea and in sewage pipes (clean ones) on three continents!

So I know how easy, safe, simple, fun, rewarding and invigorating sleeping wild can be. It is one reason why I came up with the idea of microadventures to try to encourage people to give these things a try. But I completely understand how someone who has never done it might think otherwise.
Therefore I hope that this article will help encourage wild-campers to give a microadventure a try by explaining how to do it all, and answering a few common worries.

What is a bivvy bag and wild camping?

A bivvy bag (bivouac bag) is a waterproof outer layer for a sleeping bag. If you live somewhere it doesn't rain (ie Not Wales) then you don't need one, and you can just lie out smugly in your sleeping bag. For a one-off bivvy microadventure a cheap orange survival bag is fine (your sleeping bag will get a bit damp on the outside from condensation). That's what I used on our howies microadventure last week. A better option is one from Alpkit for about £30.

Wild camping is camping away from a proper campsite, out in the wild.

Is wild camping legal?

It's completely legal in Scotland and, elsewhere in the world, nobody has ever complained, told me off, arrested me, or been in the slightest bit concerned. In the same way that nobody would mind you having an afternoon snooze on the beach, nobody minds wild camping, so long as you're not on private land, near someone's home, or otherwise being annoying.

Is it safe?

Assuming you are out in the countryside, away from people then a night out under the stars is about as safe as a night can be. I will admit to the occasional night when strange noises in the woods have spooked me a little, but that is only the fault of an over-active imagination and a youth frittered on late-night horror movies! This goes away after a couple of nights. If you're out there with a friend it's even easier.

Where will I sleep?

Finding spots to wild camp is an art form! It's also all about compromise: sheltered in an old barn or under a cliff in case of rain versus a full canopy of stars out in the open if it doesn't rain. Getting out of the wind will keep you much warmer, so if you're bivvying on a hilltop (my very favourite place) then consider dropping just a few metres down the leeward side. If you're sleeping on a beach sleep above the high-tide mark or else you might win a Darwin Award.

You can find safe, snug wild camping spots surprisingly close to towns and villages too. Follow a footpath just a short distance away from a road then nip behind a hedge or a clump of trees. You'll feel very open, conspicuous and slightly silly as you lie down to sleep but you'll soon relax and enjoy the novelty of being right out in nature.

How do I use a bivvy bag?

Shove your sleeping bag into the bivvy bag. You can, if you wish, put the sleeping mat in there as well, but I find that's too cramped. Snuggle in and sleep. If it rains in the night just snuggle even deeper, pull the bag over your head and leave just a little hole for your mouth otherwise you end up getting way too hot!

What do I need to take on a microadventure?

The whole point of microadventures is that you do not need much time, money or specialised equipment. The trip I did with howies is a perfect example - we left their office at the end of the day's work, rode out of town wearing small backpacks, had a great adventure, and were back at the office ready for work the next morning. Granted, not every workplace will allow you to ride your bike round the office or wear merino cycling stuff as you work, but these are minor problems! A bundled up suit makes a great pillow...

Here then is an idea for a microadventure and the stuff you'll need:

  • Leave work
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) out of town
  • Climb a hill / go to the beach / find a lake
  • Eat
  • Relax
  • Campfire (where appropriate)
  • Sleep
  • Wake up
  • Find a lake / river / lido / ocean for a quick skinny dip.
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) back into town
  • Greasy Spoon cafe
  • Back to work
  • Ask your colleagues if they did anything interesting last night

 Basic Kit List

  • Bike
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Cheap orange survival bag
  • Cheap foam sleeping mat
  • Torch
  • Rain coat
  • Wooly hat
  • Warm clothes for night (use a spare jumper as pillow)
  • Food and drink that doesn't need cooking
  • Water bottle
  • Toothpaste with toothpaste already applied and wrapped in clingfilm
  • Matches to light a campfire
  • Notebook - even if you never write a diary this is a really good chance to jot down a few observations, thoughts, resolutions
  • Camera - for smug self portrait

 Next Step Up: take all the above plus...

  •  Camping Stove
  • Pan
  • Pasta and sauce / pesto, Super Noodles, Pot Noodle etc.
  • Spoon
  • Proper bivvy bag (instead of orange bag)

Luxury Additions: take all the above plus...

Even if you have never cycled or walked ten miles before, even if you have never wild camped (or even if you have never camped) I really urge you to give this a try on a nice warm, dry summer's evening.

The very worst thing that's likely to happen is that you get back to work the next morning a bit tired. Far more likely is that you will be thrilled to discover wildness, nature and beauty on your doorstep. You'll probably enjoy it so much that next time you'll take the whole office with you as well!

Microadventures

  • Posted by alex
  • 9 August 2011



You may have heard on the grapevine that Alastair Humphreys came to Cardigan to see us yesterday. A few of us joined him and spent the night on a Microadventure based out of Cardigan.

Keep an evening or two free in the coming weeks, we've got something we'd like to share with you and will let you all know about it very soon...

great bloke, nice rider, our rider

  • Posted by ade
  • 28 July 2011

Will Jackson rides BMX, and we sponsor him along with We The People.

Here is a video of him talking and riding.

Take 10 minutes to watch.

Since we last blogged about the SAS raffle, the target this year has been set at £25,000 - not £20,000.

SAS are swinging by at the end of the week to drop off some books of tickets and we'll need your help to sell them to friends and family. It's not all hard graft though. I reckon that the final list of prizes should wet your appetite and help make the sales needed to reach our ambitious target.

Prizes include:

A £2000 howies voucher.


A beautiful handmade wooden Otter single fin.


A fantastic custom-made Foffa single speed bike

As well as loads more amazing prizes!

We'll be putting books of tickets in all our parcels (along with some stickers to sweeten the deal) soon.

If you can't wait and want tickets now, get in touch with Pete at peter@sas.org.uk or call him on 01872 555958.

Plus, if the prizes alone don't sway you, the person who sells the most tickets wins a luxury eco-break for two at the fantastic Bedruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall.

The Blue Mile

  • Posted by hollie
  • 14 July 2011

Photographer Jurgen Freund has spent the last 18 months photographing the beautiful underwater world known the Coral triangle (an area covering the Philippines, Malaysia & Indonesia, down to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands) as part of WWF's Blue Mile campaign (-that's the WWF as in the 'panda' one, not the Wrestling one....)

The aim of the campaign is to highlight how beautiful and diverse marine life is, reminding people about the effects climate change and pollution will have on this very vulnerable environment and the creatures that call it home.

There will be a fund raising event held by WWF in North London on september the 4th where people are encouraged to swim or paddle one mile, but they want people all up and down the county to hold their own events too. Click here for more information on that.

SAS (surfers against sewage) are also running their fundraiser too, click here to take a look at Ade's blog from a little while ago and see how you can help on shores a little closer to home.

Mini Ramp for Skateistan

  • Posted by alex
  • 6 July 2011



You may remember the mini ramp from catalogues past. 5ft tall, 16ft wide, tons of fun? Well, sadly the time has come to say goodbye.

It's been skated in a field. It's been skated in a barn. It's now not being skated in our warehouse.

We'll be putting the ramp up for auction on eBay towards the end of August and the winning bid will be donated to Skateistan who are giving kids in Afghanistan and opportunity to escape their daily lives through the outlet of skating.

We've got a few fantastic people on board to help us spread the word who have contributed to a tidy bundle of skating gear.

A signed Girl deck, and bundle from Form Distribution

Shoes from Vans

A custom setup from Shiner

And a years subscription to Sidewalk / Ride magazine from Factory media

Even the local courier will help ship it to the new owner for cost.

This appealing lot will hopefully help raise some money for a fantastic cause.

If you want to pledge something to the auction, please get in touch. Or if you just want to help, spread the word with a tweet. We'll be using the hashtag #howiesminiramp to spread the word.

Life is complicated. Sport is simple.

Categories:

howies have commissioned a print edition of this fabulous illustration by Lizzy Stewart as part of the Advice to Sink in Slowly scheme.

We've been working together with Advice to Sink in Slowly to help the passing of advice and inspiration to first year illustration students throughout the UK. The ongoing project, a series of posters designed by graduates, is given as a welcoming gift to every student starting a course at participating University.

Our adopted print will be for sale from tomorrow as an A2 lithograph print from Advice to Sink in Slowly, with proceeds helping to keep the scheme running and knowledge flowing.

As our way of sharing the wealth of knowledge, you might spot these words of wisdom on a T-shirt near you.

Watch this space.

£2000 of howies clothes

  • Posted by alex
  • 5 July 2011

A little while ago, Surfers Against Sewage came down to Cardigan to talk about plans for their annual raffle. Their plans are big, and it's no longer just about Surfers and just about Sewage.

This year, howies are helping SAS sell tickets to raise a target of £20,000. We're also giving away the headline prize - £2000 of our clothes.

But what does £2000 worth of clothes look like? Well, something like this...

SAS receive no government grants or funding, so it's up to us (that means you too) to help sell and buy tickets to raise this year's target of £20,000.

Like the video, we thought we'd give you an idea of what £20,000 could do:

£1 Could pay to send an item of identifiable marine litter back to the manufacturer

£10 Could pay for a family to attend a beach clean

£25 Could pay for SAS to attend a local pollution incident

£50 Could pay for a school talk to educate young people about marine litter

£100 Could get SAS in front of policy & decision makers

£250 Could help us train a regional representative to tackle environmental issues in your area

£500 Could contribute towards a campaign action, and help us lobby government and industry

£1000 Could pay for an investigation into the misuse and abuse of combined sewage overflows

£5000 Could pay for a scientific report into the threats facing your local beaches

Tickets will be £1 each, with 90p in every pound raised going to fight their causes.

As well as your pound helping to campaign for cleaner beaches and water your ticket could win you this bundle of howies kit, a hand-made wooden board, a bike, surf sessions and loads more great stuff.

It's almost time to dig deep (we'll let you know exactly when), but in the meantime write a sticky note or tweet this to let your mates know what's to come.

PS. If you can't wait, you can get involved with Surfers Against Sewage online now!

Beach to Border Catchup

  • Posted by alex
  • 1 July 2011

You've might've read Ade's writeup of Rob Penn's visit to howies last month as he set off to ride from Cardigan to the Hay Festival.

This great video captures the essence of the Beach to Border ride. Taking in 120 miles of quiet Welsh roads, Rob and Co ride from the Irish Sea through the Teifi Valley, over the Cambrian Mountains and south to Hay-on-Wye.

Sometimes life's about taking things slow and filling your day with laughter. Sometimes it's about adventure and pushing yourself further and harder than before. Either way, It's All About the Bike.

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