It’s as much for those of you with desk jobs and mortgages as it is for the people with plane tickets and expensive equipment. If you want to have an adventure today that’s possible, you just need to know how to get started.
To put it simply, there are three things that are the core of an adventure:
• Discovery • New experience • Great stories
All three can be found on your doorstep. No flights or gear required. All you need is a spare afternoon and a dash of wanderlust.
If you’ve got those, you’ve got the makings of an adventure.
Step 1: Look up
It often feels like it’s easier to have an adventure abroad, or in spectacular settings. That’s because in those situations we’re working to take everything in. If you were to take a moment to watch the people who are from that place, you’ll notice they’re just going about their business. They’ve spent so much time around these things you think are wondrous that they don’t even notice them anymore. Odds are you’re doing exactly the same thing with your own back yard. If you live in the UK, there are all sorts of opportunity for adventure; they’re just not immediately obvious to you.
So start asking questions about your surroundings. Where does that path go? How long would it take me to climb that hill? What’s that ruin in the woods? Each of these questions could be the start of an adventure, and the answers could start even more.
Step 2: Go upwards There’s something special about getting up above the crowd; whether you’re climbing a hill, or going on a full day hike. Once you get a few stories up, even familiar ground takes on a new appearance. Blank spots get filled in, you notice houses and paths you never saw before.
This shift in perspective, looking at something from the outside and appreciate it in a different way, is at the heart of any good adventure.
There’s also something therapeutic about the climb. For me, getting to the top of – or even halfway up – a hill has a sense of achievement to it that you won’t always get from a walk. I get the same level of joy now, going on a hike, as I did when I was young and climbed trees in the woods.
Step 3: Look for a challenge When we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, a sense of adventure follows almost immediately.
Anything done for the first time - or with a little uncertainty – is an adventure, and you should think of it as such. It doesn’t need to be all physical, it can be about learning a language, or some new skill. The very act of focusing on something new pulls us into the moment and makes it more real and fun.
Adventures don’t need to be success stories either. People often associate adventure with struggle and get intimidated; I know I used to.
But sometimes failures give you the best stories.
Whether you decided to try green-laning on a sportsbike, or lost your bikini top/boardshorts jumping off the local pier, those are often the stories you’re going to love to tell, and people are going to love to hear.
Step 4: Talk to people
Everyone has their own secrets, and conversation is how we reveal them. Speak to the locals about the area. Ask them about good places to walk and nice places to eat.
Not everyone is going to know the perfect hiking route, but everyone has a story to tell and these stories bring the area to life. A path you’ve walked hundreds of times was marched on by conquerors; a collapsed building in the woods was once the home of a famous inventor.
The stories of others breathe life into your adventure it in a way that a dozen walks can’t, and once you know them, you become a part of them. A good question I’ve used in the past is to ask about traditions and superstitions. Why is there one old oak with people’s names scratched into it? What’s with those totems in the woods? These are my favourite stories to unearth, and the best ones to pass on.
And there you have it, a quick primer on how to find adventure in your own backyard. There are many more ways of course, but that should be enough to get your going.
Plus, if I told you everything, that wouldn’t be much of an adventure now would it.