There are 64 free hours in a weekend... how will you spend yours?
I'm on a mission to fill up my time making memories, spending it with lovely people outside exploring our incredible world and challenging myself in small and large ways, regularly. Here are a selection of larger challenges and a few microadventures.
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, this September 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. Find out more here.
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 coming back to do it again, and this time I'm going 50% bigger! Find out more about my first attempt here and keep an eye out for details of my next Cycle Great Britain adventure.
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.
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, 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.
Cycling Home for Christmas
A wonderful opportunity to fit in adventure, going home for Christmas via a non-motorised form of transport was a joy - despite Storm Eva delivering some rain, high winds and sleet. I didn't quite make it all the way but discovered that the most important aspects of longer adventures are fitting in time for cake stops and seeing friends / making new ones.
It was early September 2014 when I first met Alister Humphreys after his Sunday Sermon at Escape to the Woods. From here a love of camping out (mostly during summer!) began and ever since I've enjoyed exploring the world of bivvying. The great thing about microadventures is that they remind you that no matter how busy you are it's always possible to make time for what you love and for what matters.
SUP Thames River Relay through Oxford & Camp Outs
Richmond Camp Out
Lesson: don't sleep under trees when it's been raining, slugs start falling from the sky.
Hadley Castle Camp Out
Celebrating Elise Downing's incredible 5000 mile run around the coast of Britain. What an incredible achievement Elise!
An Essex YesTribe Camp Out
A beautiful sunset but it was definitly the worst night for mosi bites.
Cycle to Ditchling & Camp Out
A lovely ride down to Ditchling and Jason even conquered the hill with a fully loaded bike.
YesBus Camp Out
What could be cooler than turning a bus into a co-working/co-living space?... not much. So when the opportunity arose to sleep out on the bus while it's still very much work in progress, I couldn't say no. It was a lovely opportunity to throw ideas into the mix about how the bus could be transformed, and it turns out bus floors are very comfortable to sleep it (although with 15-20 of you in there it gets a bit stuffy).
Awesome Camp Out: Storyteller Special
Why not turn a regular camp out into something a bit different. When you add scary stories of hand-licking murderers and power-hungry knights into the mix it makes for a fun woodland camp out near Oxshott. Vanessa Wood of London Dream Time is an wonderful storyteller and it was a great way to spend my first ever night camping in a wood!
#Quapaw24 Big Paddle
This just shows the power of coming up with an idea and putting it out there. Chris and Andy decided to organise a 24 hour paddle down the River Wey to support the team at Quapaw Canoe Company in recovering from flood damage. Just 4 weeks later an amazing weekend saw over 30 people SUP, kayak and swim for over 24 hours. While I wasn't able to join them on the water I loved supporting this microadventure from the shore and look forward to helping them knock 2016 out of the water next year! Check out our swimmers...
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. It was great to experiment with video for the first time - let me know what you think!
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!
May 2015 saw me head out to Kent with friends from Escape the City's Start Up Tribe. 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 game of guess the last line of the poem?!
2 months later 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.
London to Devon fishing trip
I was lucky enough to have a fish filleting lesson from my lovely friend Simon, a fishing adventurist, and I'm keen to explore catching, foraging and cooking some food en route down to Devon.
London to Amsterdam food producer trail
Having never visited Holland, I've been keen for a couple of years to cycle across to the bicycle-loving country and explore the foodie delights that Essex and Amsterdam have to offer. Hundreds and thousands on bread anyone?
If you'd like to join me on a cycling adventure get in touch @Fionalquinn