Here are some adventures that have shifted my perspective.
From facing my fear of the sea during an 800 mile paddle to facing failure and going back bigger and further to find success.
Having completed my walk and cycle of LEJOG, the only logical next step seemed to be a water based adventure. But with a fear of being in the sea, swimming was off the cards, so I decided to Stand Up Paddleboard LEJOG, something no one had ever attempted to do before I started. On 21st April I set off from Lands End paddling up the coast to cover 800 miles in total. Along the way my route took me across the Irish Sea, becoming the first woman in history to SUP across this stretch of water. Two and a half months later I landed in John O'Groats having experience whirlpools, dolphins, and an incredible challenge along the way. Supported by a 32ft sailing yacht, which I bought knowing nothing about sailing or boats, I also learnt to sail.
In completing this expedition I became the first woman to complete a length of Britain triathlon.
Having not quite made it in 2016, September the following year I went back to cycle Lands End to John O'Groats again, this time via London covering around 1,200 miles - luckily this time I made it all the way. Over 4 weeks I cracked out my longest day on the bike yet at 115miles from Bath to London, I cycled the most beautiful road from Lairg to Tongue in Scotland and I dealt with bike failures including a split rim (luckily the tyre didn't explode!).
I loved discovering the UK so much I'm headed back out there - this time walking over 8 weeks and heading south. Find out how my walk went; how I ended up on crutches and what it feels like to have trench foot, plus the incredible kindness of strangers, endless supplies of cake and wonderful trails I discovered along the way. Spending just a little bit of time doing something different could change your whole approach to life.
Cycle Britain (attempt no.1)
Over the course of 20 days I cycled almost 1000 miles up the length of Great Britain from Lands End to John O'Groats. With incredible weather, great company and beautiful scenery I would highly recommend this as an achievable and rewarding challenge. Having said that, this time I didn't quite make it. But I'm not one to give up and went back to do it again, 50% bigger (see above)!
70 miles from source to sea along the river Cam, through Cambridge and out to the North Norfolk sea. But just doing it once would have been too easy, so, of course, I did it 3 times; once by bicycle, once by foot and once by stand up paddle board (SUP) (here is where the ‘of sorts’ comes in, I didn’t fancy swimming it!). This trio of methods made it 180 miles in all. By far the furthest distance I had traveled thus far on an adventure. Search #CamTriathlon and help me raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support. Here's a little video I made of the cycle leg.
A beautiful island, many hop over to enjoy sandy beaches, stunning views and an array of water sports to keep the whole family entertained. But rather than taking the car (supposedly taking a ferry across the Solent is one of the most expensive crossings per mile in the world!), if you opt for your bike it’s considerably cheaper and offers a great opportunity to explore the island in a different way to most visitors.
I’d been wanting to do this route since January, so following my after work ride to Brighton the week before I decided it was time to just get on and do it. I looked at the route and figured out I could get half way, covering around 75 miles on the first day, and then finish off on Day two going via the Two Tunnels near Bath.
For me, I love to kick off my Mondays in a new location every week (check out my Happy Monday videos over on Facebook), but I rarely fill my evenings with adventure. The odd 5–9 camp out, may be once every month or two, but never have I used that time to really travel and discover a new route or destination, knowing that I have a full week ahead of me. So one Monday I decided to change all that.
Cycling London to Brighton
The classic British Heart Foundation London to Brighton bike ride is a must for any avid cyclist. The overwhelming sense of community is heart warming and well worth the 65 mile ride. In September I took on the slightly longer 75 mile ride for Breast Cancer Now in support of my mum, raising over £300 in the process. While it was a much smaller ride in terms of the number of cyclists, it's still a great sense of achievement to know that you can easily cycle to the coast in a day with plenty of time for food stops en route.
Most microadventure camp outs start at dusk and end at dawn, but I decided it would be nice to make a weekend of it. I headed down to Bath with Andy and Rod for an afternoon of cycling along the canal and discovering Bath. We then met Emma for dinner and headed to a great spot she'd scouted out for us. My first experience of shelter building using a tarp was a huge success and we awoke to lovely views down over the valley. The weekend finished off with a dip in the Spa before heading back.
Bivvying in the summer is lovely, but what about in January - would that be fun too? As it turns out it's ludicrously cold! While a great group was gathered by my lovely friend Jason, who's taken on the challenge of doing 16 camp outs in 2016, I think I'll wait for warmer weather before dusting my bivvy off again!
2 months after my first microadventure I attempted what is usually a 5pm-9am adventure, but turned out to be more like a 3pm-11am - the reason being, I didn't just head an hour out of London, but all the way down to Devon, just for one night. Beautiful views out over Dartmoor were accompanied by fresh pasta and sausages on the campfire. It was a full moon which was handy, given being circled in the night by horses can be disconcerting at the best of times.
Eynsford - My first ever microadventure!
May 2015 saw me head out to Kent with friends from Escape the City's Start Up Tribe, having been inspired by Alastair Humphreys. Indulging in a pub dinner before grilling the locals to get recommendations for the best hill, we wondered past a viaduct and some curious cows before settling in for a glass of wine in a field. FYI that’s not a body bag, it’s an emergency bivvy - I have since upgraded.