“You're doing really well, keep going!”, I shouted up to the lady above me. It was a glorious summer afternoon and I was dangling from a rope some 15 metres up, slowly making my way through the canopy of a beautifully tall old beech tree in the Peak District. There was a small group, perhaps 8 or 10 of us and we were on a tree climbing session. What an experience it was!
Even the guys teaching us commented that’s it’s a rarity to have such a large specimen to have the pleasure of climbing and exploring. From within the canopy, the view of the rolling countryside awesome. It also brought a new perspective to these fantastic structures that are all around us: trees!
This was my first time at Base Camp Festival, but somehow I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I have a lot to thank the algorithms of social media for! Some 3 months previously, whilst having a mandatory scroll through social media, up popped Base Camp Festival as a suggested event. If, like me, you’ve not heard of Base Camp Festival, it’s a four day festival of adventure held in the Peak District, Derbyshire, organised by Belinda and the rest of the fabulous Explorers Connect team.
After a short read, I knew this sounded right up my street: just the festival for me! Activities and adventures in the day then speakers, tales of adventure and drinks around the fire in the evening, dancing under the stars. What more could you need?
Later on in the tree climbing day, I went to listen to one of the many guest speakers, Ann Daniels, who gave a very interesting and motivating talk. How silly I felt when, listening to one of the first women to reach both the North and South Pole, I realised that she was same lady I was spurring on during the tree climbing!
Anecdotes aside, this is the beauty that the festival holds. Despite the outstanding achievements of some of those who attend both guest speakers and festival goers, there is no bravado, no "my expedition was better, longer or colder than yours". Everyone mixes together and everyone is encouraging, no matter whether you're a climbing virgin or talking tales of an Everest expedition. Some of the other speakers at the 2015 festival included Sean Conway, Sophie Radcliffe, Benedict Allen, Richard Parks, Pete and Alice McNeil, Niall and Finn McCann to name but a few.
The stories and experiences of those people blew me away. There was no way this weekend was going to be just any old weekend: it was going to change my life. And so it has!
Some great bonds and friendships were made that weekend, some of whom I am in contact throughout the year. As well as all the phenomenal talks, there are also some amazing activities on offer, from climbing and canoeing to foraging and game preparation, axe throwing, expedition planning, wild swimming, slacklining and much more. At Base Camp Festival, there's something for everyone!
By the second day, it's like your camping with friends, greeted with smiles as you walk around, grab some breakfast and continue conversations from the night before, talks of the day’s plans and activities then off to make new friends, learn new skills or climb trees with a Polar explorer!
As soon as I left, I felt inspired to take opportunity in the great experience I’d just had meeting so many inspiring, like minded people. Where to go? What to do? I needed to do something! Visit the Amazon or climb Kilimanjaro? A Europe cycle trip or walk the length of Britain? The list of potential adventures was endless.
However, as much as a big adventure trip or long expedition is what many of us dream of, it’s not always that feasible. I mean, I’m not the only one with a mortgage and a child, bills to pay and a job to attend! The big expeditions aren’t so easily achievable, but the desire for adventure is just as big. This is where Micro Adventures was born. I decided I couldn’t be the only one wanting more adventure but had limited time to adventure in. I decided to create a group which would focus on finding adventure wherever possible. It started out as a small group of friends, but as word has spread and friends invite their friends we now have almost 100 members.
The aim of the group is two-fold: firstly, by making this commitment I was obliged to get out more and secondly, having a group means a short mid-week post can soon evolve into a well planned weekend of adventure with a group of like-minded folk. Whether it be a wild camp or a day’s walking, it’s all adventure. Besides, who dictates how long a experience must be to qualify as an adventure? Micro Adventures is now a open group welcoming new members, anyone can post proposals of forthcoming events or ideas, join in with events or simply read up on what we’ve been up to.
Some of the things we’ve done so far include the Wild Camp DE Challenge, trying to wild camp every postcode area in Derbyshire, currently 4 of 23 complete. We also do slackline sessions, and have had a number of successful group walks in the Peak District. We also plan to have a group trip to Wales later this year.
So, if you like adventure but are short on time find yourself a Micro Adventure, feel free to join the Facebook Group and share what your up to, even join us on a future Micro Adventure.
Failing that I hope to see you at Base Camp Festival 2017 and I hope it’s as life changing for you as it was me.
Words: Tom Towlson
To read more of Tom's writing, click here
To book your place at Base Camp Festival, click here