MicroAdventures are what I love. Every since age 11 when first allowed to ride trains alone, exploring and discovering has motivated most of my movements. Not sure whos credited with coining the term ‘MicroAdventure’ it might have been Alistair Humphreys, but this goes out to him and lots of my colleagues in cycling and the outdoors who ride this life.
I took a B.A Degree in Adventure Recreation as a mature student which allowed me to study all the sociological aspects of why how and where people take part in Outdoors sports, this monday post is a flavour of that. One recurring phrase from that time was an adventure being classed as:- ‘An activity with an uncertainty of outcome’, thanks and credit to Paul Beedie at University of Bedfordshire for that.
Yesterdays sunday schedule off timetable meant for me a walk to the beach, little did I know what it would contain, taking Alumhurst road near my favourite of the 7 chines in Poolemouth, Alum which Ive written about before as the starting point. Chine is a lovely local name for wooded valleys. At the top of Alum Chine is the site of old house of Robert Louis Stephenson called Skerryvore, you can visit the place here where he wrote the books Treasure Island and the Story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Many times on walks, Im looking down to the sea with that same imagination of place imbued with the sea, cliffs and nature.
Strolling down the road I saw a narrow opening into a big valley, with steps down into it. A new place I had never found before! On entering there was a blackcap singing, a beautiful liquid song by this African bird, they fly over each summer to make nests and breed in our temperate climate. One of several types of warblers that visit our shores, these are easy to identify with their black caps. You might also come across the unmistakeable sound of Chiff Chaffs with their duotone “Chiff chaff, chiff chaff, chiff chaff” repetitive song. Willow warblers look exactly like Chiff Chaffs and make visual identification nigh on impossible, but the songs are totally different, tuning into the sweet mellifluous descending notes of willow warblers is a joy and takes me on to my thoughts yesterday. I tweeted “feeling like Livingstone with the head of Messiaen exploring undiscovered chine paths drowning in Blackcap song”, if youre not a fan yet, simply the fact that sending messages called ‘tweets’ from your birdbox was enough to get me on to Twitter microblogging. Try it, Im @jasonmfalconer . Sounds of nature where also captured in the music of the composer Messiean, love his music and well worth checking out. Absorbed in the nature I continued down this new path, surrounded by tall mature pines, a few Yew trees, mature Beeches and the beautiful blue sky above. Alongside the ferns were starting to unfurl their crosiers into the sun, noticing these small details every season connects me to the seasons, along with autumn foraging for cooking mushrooms theres always something to discover in our ever changing island. More birds, wood peckers, drilling into an dead tree with that sound, this was a greater spotted showing its red and black colours on a few short flights between sites. Towards the bottom of Chine something I never saw rustled around in the brown leaves, could have just been a Blackbird but sounded bigger, I’ll never know.
This path kept going downwards, immersed in the place I didn’t want it to end, but as all things do I reached the concrete path crossing the end. Was quite amazed at the length I walked and gazed alone, not another human in the whole Chine. This is where it turns to data, I needed to know the length so paced it back up to the top- 240, for me thats just short of 450 metres. Half a Kilometer of wilderness. Noticed that there was another track alongside the fence line, obviously I needed to walk that and did so, and on the Northern side another path started which I also started, it petered out amongst brambles and I ripped my legs to shreds, somehow between Autumn and Spring its impossible to leave the house and come back without getting covered in mud, not sure why… I’m not going to say where this heavenly place is Ill leave it to you to discover for yourselves. Hoping the flavour of discovery comes across in the post, truly being where you are is the key.
Microadventure complete I joined the hordes again on the seafront. Purpose of this post in part is to say youre green grass- Its in front of you, getting out and discovering it is Yoga life, being in the present, enjoying what’ s here, and in Poolemouth the best place in the world. Our British seasons mean its summer in 10 days, May, June and July are my summer, some might disagree but with midsummer day 21st June in the middle it works for me. Im endlessly motivated to teach children this adventure, outdoors, importance of getting lost and getting found again which has to follow. In todays world GPS, technology seems to be robbing people of the ability to find their own way around. Recent ‘Telegraph’ article referred to a ‘Hansel and Gretel generation’, of kids who have no idea where they live in relation to anywhere else, shame. Saturdays Orienteering session I ran at Avon heath for families taking seven 8-11 year olds out on the heath, navigating, reading, going off onto wrong terrain, coming back, finding the controls, tripping up, seeing birds and animals was for them Microadventure, what motivates me to work.
An upcoming event tommorrow- 36 people booked on, the Bourne Valley challenge, is another one of my events brought together with colleagues from Active Dorset. Im setting them a navigation challenge in the middle and upper gardens ,with 16 controls, they will have to locate 16 trees, Ive given them the Latin Names written on plaques, they will have to write the English names and solve an anagram with the letters , first team to complete wins. I ran the course in 27 minutes friday, will let you know who wins in upcoming posts. Its a great life. Enjoy the sunshine. Salutations.