Microadventuring in the Lakes

Microadventures, for those of you who don’t know are adventures that require little money and time to accomplish. Things such as hopping on a bus or a train with your lunch, climbing a nearby fell, or going for a swim in a lake, eating lunch and then popping back on the train before tea time. As Mosaic Champions in the Lake District, we decided to do a week of mircoadventures in honour of National Parks Week. For me microadventures week was not so micro. To the other champions who came it probably felt micro but that’s because they came to one or two adventures and then went home. I thought, why only do one or two days, why not do them all? So I did, and what was supposed to be a micro adventure day or two turned into a fully-fledged week long epic. Probably not the best example of microadventures in the world but if you just listen to my story and ignore the fact that I was out all week and focus on what we did each day then it sounds a lot less epic and a bit more micro sized!

Day one

We kicked off micro adventures week on Monday in Barrow where I live; me and Adam (the other Mosaic champion from barrow) met Clare [Mosaic project officer] in the morning to do a kit sort. We were planning on bivvying out that night so there was quite a bit of kit to drag along with us. I was feeling optimistic about the day, though not so much about carrying a really heavy rucksack (but that’s just me nitpicking and trying to find something to moan about).

So we jumped on a bus heading for Coniston and picked up Sarah (Clare’s boss) on the way. When we got to Coniston it was a nice sunny day with beautiful conditions to go out on lake. When we got to the boat house we met Belinda who works for the national park. So after a quick bite to eat and a natter we headed out on to the water, me and Andrea in one canoe and Clare, Adam and Sarah in the other. Me and Andrea hit a slight problem that was quickly resolved. Me being a teenager full of energy and strength was putting my all into paddling down Coniston whereas Andrea didn’t have that spirited power that is teenage youth so we soon found our self’s shifting off to the right a lot. Like I mentioned this issue was quickly resolved by me toning it down a bit and it was smooth sailing from there all the way down to Wild Cat island. We had a good wonder around the island before Sarah and Andrea had to leave and then we parted ways. Me, Adam and Clare canoed across to Torver wood common where we had a swim then set up camp for the night.

Day two

Bright and early start on day two, just as we were getting ready to leave I was asked to do a radio interview for Radio Cumbria, which I wasn’t too keen on doing at nine in the morning but oh well. After that we canoed back up Coniston and chilled out at the boat house while planning what to do next and meeting our old tutor form college. Eventually we came up with a plan. Because we were going to be having an archery lesson over at Wray castle, me and Adam though it would be a cool idea to hike over to Windermere on the small budget of seven pounds for the 24 hours and meet Clare there on the Wednesday.  We resupplied and set off walking. After seven long hours of harsh assents, descents, treks through woods, hopping fences and carrying a bag that felt like there was another me on my back we reached Wray castle just after seven. Along the way we got to see some lovely sights such as Tarn Hawse and a good few waterfalls. At the end of the day we had a real sense of accomplishment because not only did we manage the 12 km trek over to Wray, we never got lost once. When we set off I had serious doubts about whether I could read a map or not but I managed to read it perfectly. So day one taught me how to canoe and camp properly and day two taught me how to read a map and that 12 km is a really long walk.

Day three

After days one and two, me and Adam where feeling properly washed out but we still managed an early start and I cooked breakfast. Me and Adam got to laze around for half the day before we met up with another friend from Barrow. We then had lunch and a run through of mine and Adam’s adventure and I expressed my bubbling anticipation to do some archery. Four o’clock rolled around and we began our two hour training session. Learning how to shoot arrows is as easy as learning how to ride a bike. The only problems you might come across is a bad back from standing to straight and a bruise on your arm from where the bow string had hit you. At least those were the problems I ran into. I lied a little before in saying I stayed out all week. That night I went home and enjoyed a lovely plate of sausage and chips from the take away. I felt I deserved it after those three days.

Day four

After that nice sleep and me slightly readjusting to a nice comfy bed I got the bus to Kendal to meet Clare and we set off on day four of the not so micro microadventures week. Today we were going over to meet the Whitehaven lot. I’d spent a bit of time with these guys before but I wasn’t too familiar with them all. We met up with them in Keswick and got the bus down to Stonethwaite where we met to crew of ITV fixers who were doing a piece on Mosaic and microadventures. They filmed setting up camp and started doing some interviews. After a while we decided to walk up the valley to go do some bouldering and swimming, we found a really cool spot with some really nice waterfalls and that’s when the people from ITV decided that I should do my interview. So while everyone else was off exploring I was sat there answering questions barely containing my excitement to go jump under a waterfall. After the interview I did exactly that, this was a first for me and it was so much fun. We parted ways with the camera crew because we were heading further up the valley to black moss pot to go do some diving, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet but for a person that’s never been swimming in their life I did a lot of swimming in this week thanks to the aid of a life jacket. I only jumped off twice at black moss pot but I did jump off a ledge that was considerably higher than me standing up straight so that’s another first. After the day of many firsts we went back to camp and met Richard. Apparently Richard is the big wig, boss of bosses with the National Park Authority [the CEO] so of course the questions were fired thick and heavy at him for the rest of the night and I learnt a lot about how he does his job.

Day five

We didn’t get to have breakfast this morning because some of the lads didn’t think about bringing anything for dinner last night so we had to eat breakfast last night. So tempers running high we trundled back to the bus stop to get the bus back to Keswick. Our bus was an open top one and even though it was raining we decided to sit on the top just because it was fun. After dropping all the guys back at Keswick we headed to Whitehaven to pick up Adam (not the same Adam from day one and two) and sped off to Ravenglass to catch the la’al ratty, the funniest comedy train in the North West. At Ravenglass we met Tim who is Volunteer Coordinator with the National Park and we set off to Eskdale where we would be meeting two of the council members for the National Park Authority and then hiking up to Blea Tarn to do even more swimming. At the risk of sounding mean I thought the council members were old and it was pretty harsh dragging them up a fell, but they handled it much better than I did. When we got to the tarn we all went for a swim except the council members who stood at the shore taking selfies as well as taking pictures of us. After a rapid descent we caught the train in time and then it was off back home.

If microadventures week has taught me anything it is that a bit of planning is always important, you should do at least a little bit before you head out. Some stuff we did was all routine but the rest was all firsts for me, canoeing Coniston, bivvying out, map reading, archery and swimming outdoors. The scenery was absolutely breath taking and I met a whole new bunch of people. Thanks to all the members of the National Park for coming along on our crazy adventures, ITV Fixers for doing your filming piece on us, Cumbria radio station for the fabulous interview, Kendal Bowmen’s club for teaching us how to shoot and last but certainly not least the absolute living legend that is Clare Dyson who made all this possible. It’s been the most intense and crazy week of my life and if I could spend all my time doing this I would.

Watch the Champions’ ITV Fixers’ film.