Last year we completed a triathlon of the width of GB, kayaking the Great Glen Canoe Trail in Scotland, walking the Hadrian’s Wall National trail and cycling the Trans Pennine trail.
This year we are aiming to complete another triathalon, this time doing the conventional trio of running, cycling and swimming but the mileage that we cover will be greater. It’s 2017 so we’re aiming to complete 2017 miles: running 1000 miles, cycling 1000 miles and swimming 17 miles. As with other DIY (Do It Your-way) adventures we’ll be completely the miles together as a family. We will seek opportunities to #getoutside whether by foot, bike or in cossies and will be recording how we get on below.
Run = 117 miles Cycle = 0 miles Swim = 0 miles
Running is a subject that divides us a family – some of us love it with passion and some of us hate it with vengeance – but it has become something that unites us as we have chosen to take the Trail Running magazine’s #run1000miles challenge (http://www.trailrunningmag.co.uk/run1000miles/).
We are aiming to complete the 1000 miles as a family, not individually, so over the weeks and months we will find places to run, and events to join in that will mean the miles will trickle in and we’ll record them below. Running for us is about spending time together in the outdoors, getting exercise and fresh air. We are not aiming to compete but enjoy it. Who knows, those of us that hate it might even end up changing our minds?!
It can be difficult to stick to New Year’s resolutions or challenges that you set yourself but being part of an organised challenge will mean we should be able to stick to this.
Cycle 1000 miles
The second part of our 2017 triathalon is the cycling challenge. We are aiming to cycle 1000 miles during the year. Last we cycled the TransPenine trail as part of our Width of GB triathalon (LINK) and will be looking to find suitable family-friendly routes that will allow us to clock up the mileage in order to complete this part of the challenge.
Swim 17 wild miles
Swimming in the outdoors is not something that we have a lot of experience of but are looking forward to this part of the triathalon as much as the others. We’ll be looking for various places (lakes, rivers, lidos and the sea) around the UK where we can swim various distances that will total 17 miles. Although it is the smallest amount of mileage to cover, this might end up being the most difficult!
BaseCamp Adventure 6: Wild Run
Project BaseCamp, for us, is all about finding a balance between work and play (or family adventure time as we call it); looking for opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. This week we wanted to #getoutside for some exercise and to appreciate the environment by doing a wild run!
Running with a view
Getting outside for a run is an easy family adventure; all you need is a pair of trainers. Then find a nearby location to explore. Since the sport of trail running is becoming increasingly popular, it is possible to find set routes to follow at places such as Forestry Commission sites if you don’t want to make up your own.
Running is going to play a large part of our lives in 2017 as we try to complete the Trail Running Magazine’s #run1000miles challenge. We enjoyed this trail and will no doubt return to run it again as well as look for similar ones.
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk
25 Basecamp Adventures
We are a family that love to get outdoors and do adventures together. In the past we’ve done 100 Family adventures and various projects outside. Our latest project is called 25 Basecamp adventures.
Why Basecamp? Well, we love the concept of having a base from which to travel from and return to after a family adventure whether its a house, caravan or motorhome. Our base is our home or should we say our home is our base and this is something that has changed quite a lot over the last few years as we’ve moved from caravan to motorhome to caravan and house.
We strongly believe in doing not having and rather than dedicate time to DIY in a house, we’d rather dedicate time to DIY (Do It Your-way) adventuring: adapting ideas and making adventures family-friendly.
Our 25 Basecamp adventures include various adventures around the country as we find locations to travel to in our Swift Basecamp caravan; this is the base from which we adventure. The adventures can and will be done as a family; some of which cost very little (or are completely cost-free) and some of which will require a provider. Hopefully they’ll give others an idea of adventures that can be done together as family.
The adventure list
- caving – Go Below
- hiking – door to door navigation
- fun run / park run
- Scooter safari
- trail running
- gorge walking
- wild swimming
- surfing / body-boarding
- white water rafting
- half marathon
- bouldering / weasling
BaseCamp Adventure 5: Scooter Safari
It’s been a while since we last got the scooters out, so this adventure was one we were all looking forward to. What made this scooter safari extra exciting was that Amy and Ella were bringing a friend each along to join in. After all, there’s nothing better than having an adventure together with your mates!
We headed out of BaseCamp with the scooters in our van and into Nottingham. This may sound like an odd choice, but the plan was to have a safari that mixed both rural and urban landscapes, and being a linear route, it meant we’d have to work out a way of getting back to our start point. The answer, split up: one group is dropped off at one end of the route while the other group then drove to the other end. Two start points meant two end points, and one group finishing where the van was left and therefore able to drive to pick up the other group when they finished (and of course, we’d pass each other somewhere near halfway).
A route that mixes rural and urban adds variety and interest. Following a river makes the journey even more interesting with sights ranging from a nature reserve, house-boats, heron and sparrow hawks to football stadia, impressively engineered bridges and canal systems that take you below the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
So, get those scooters out – or borrow some if you don’t have your own – and go on safari! It won’t cost you much (perhaps, only an ice-cream or two).
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk
BaseCamp Adventure 4: Orienteering
Project BaseCamp, for us, is all about finding a balance between work and play (or family adventure time as we call it); looking for opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. This week we wanted to look for an activity to try in our local area, and one that Amy and Ella could invite a friend each along to enjoy.
Ever stuck for an idea of something to do in your local area, then look for an orienteering course to try and as well as the checkpoints you’ll hopefully find, you’ll certainly find a family-friendly outdoor activity that will put a smile on your face and make you feel good!
Thanks to Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club for helping us find an appropriate course this weekend.
For more information about Nottinghamshire courses, visit: http://www.noc-uk.org/ For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk
BaseCamp Adventure 3: Park Run
This family adventure required a bit of an early start (for a Saturday morning), but it was well worth the effort!
On a cold Winter’s morning, it’s quite tempting to stay beneath the duvet where it’s warm and comfortable, isn’t it? Having said that, sometimes it’s even tempting to stay indoors and not venture outside at all.
But the good thing about having a challenge like our Base Camp 25 Adventures Challenge, is that it gives you a goal to aim for and an incentive to get up and get outside. And we set ourselves this challenge exactly for that reason to get outdoors and active together as a family (knowing that we will actually all enjoy the activities and be glad we did them – admittedly, sometimes in a type 2 fun kind of way).
Park Run is a great initiative that organises free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Starting 2004, Park Run has grown from strength to strength, and every time we have taken part in one of them we have always felt welcome and supported. It doesn’t matter what your age, size or running ability, Park Run is for every one.
Remember, Park Run is not about being the fastest runner, it’s about just being there and taking part.
Find your local Park Run and get your weekend off to a great start!
For more information about Park Run, visit: http://www.parkrun.com/ For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk
BaseCamp Adventure 2: Navigate door to door
We wanted to keep this adventure local and cheap – we also liked the idea of a a ‘car fee’ day – so we headed out from BaseCamp to explore the local area via one of the routes suggested on the OS Maps app. The idea was to get from door to door and in between walk at least 7 or 8 miles than enabled us to take in part of the local area that we hadn’t been to before.
As Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions we love to get outdoors – and encourage others to also do so – we love any kind of outdoor adventure, particularly if it’s a bit strenuous and we get to enjoy it together as a family. It’s a bonus if it requires navigating using a map and compass (doesn’t that just make it feel more exciting).
So, we headed out, ‘tucksack’ filled with stove, food to cook and hot drinks; oh, I didn’t mention the fact we also wanted to eat out, and I mean ‘out’… in the outdoors.
I love the fact the girls are happy to ‘rough it’ a bit… able to cook some food on the go and cope with making do with less than perfect scenarios – like cooking burgers while in the squatting position :)
Four hours or so of walking, chatting, stroking various dogs we met and enjoying food cooked at a convenient tree trunk later we returned red cheeked and with clear heads.
It’s amazing how good for the mind and soul a simple family ramble can be after a grotty week: it’s true, sometimes the simple things are the best (and they often don’t cost very much either).
Oh, and we also managed to pick up some single-use plastic beverage items for our ongoing ‘Clear Plastic UK Campaign‘.
So, all-in-all, a productive and fulfilling day’s adventuring!
For information about Ordnance Survey's mapping app, visit: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-maps-mobile.html For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: https://www.swiftbasecamp.co.uk/
18,322 bottles collected to date!
We’re aiming to pick up 100,000 plastic bottles, lids, cups, straws (and microplastics) from all around the globe – beaches, forests, road-sides, anywhere we find them. Why 100,000 – this is the number of sea mammals killed each year from being trapped in plastic or eating it.
Along with others who wish to help us reach our total, and do their bit for the planet, we’re making progress – all of which is recorded below.
The hall of Fame
28.4.16 – 3 pieces of plastic litter collected from along the Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Chesters Roman Fort – Steel Rig)
4 pieces of beverage litter collected by Aleks Kashefi.
171 pieces of plastic litter collected by Jason Rawles!
22.4.16 – 7 bottles picked up by Jason Rawles.
Last weekend, we escaped the city and headed into the Derbyshire Dales for some much needed countryside and fresh air. This is what we do at the weekend – seek out places to go to explore, whether it’s on foot, wheels or water. We love being outside in all weather, sharing time together. But this weekend had an added twist; the girls each brought a friend along. They chatted on the way in the van and played games to fill the time. There was a different buzz of atmosphere.
Before long, we arrived in Dovedale car park ready for a walk along the river Dove and up Thorpe Cloud. This was the first ‘hill-walking’ that their friends had done and it was the perfect day for it; blue sky and warm Autumn sunshine that cut through the chill of the November temperatures.
Thorpe Cloud is a small hill in the Derbyshire Dales that, on a clear day, provides gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It doesn’t take long to get to the top but we stopped every so often to take in the views and snap some photos to remember the day by. Amy and Ella, who first climbed the hill when they were toddlers, were great ‘mountain guides'; they both encouraged their friends along the way, checking on them regularly.
Before long, we reached the top and took the obligatory photo to celebrate, and then began the walk down. You’d think the fun of the stepping stones, or the view from the top was enough of a reward but we topped it off with an ice-cream – after all it’s never too cold for an ice-cream! The girls stood around licking their ice-creams, with a healthy glow on the faces and one of the girls’ friends remarked how proud she felt on climbing her first hill! Let’s hope this has given them a taste for more and that they will be joining us more family weekend adventure in the future.
The Nottingham Post Environmental Awards
On the 20th October there was an environmental award ceremony run by the Nottingham Post and sponsored by The Wildlife Trust. There were ten different categories and the two finalists for each category were invited to the award ceremony. We are very proud to have been selected as finalists for the Education and Environment award, sponsored by Cemex, and went to the ceremony pleased with being made finalists and excited about the possibility of winning.
We are proud to announce that we won our category! This is a big step forward in our campaign and having won this award means so much to us. The other worthy finalists were Asquith Primary School, who have made their school grounds more eco-friendly by putting in flower beds and planting lots of vegetables and flowers in the school grounds.
This award ceremony celebrated what people are doing to protect the environment and it was a pleasure to be invited. There many fascinating ideas that were put forward at the award and we have come away surprised at what the people of Nottingham are doing to protect the environment.
Our campaign, ClearPlastic_UK is trying to tackle single-use plastic beverage items but in particular plastic bottles because of their negative effect on the environment. Find out more at: www.dotrythisathome.com/category/clear-plastic/
We are going to launch our own website for ClearPlastic_UK soon.
BaseCamp Adventure 1: Go Below
We stood in the depths of the Welsh Slate mines with seven others and our two guides staring at the chink of light above us – the exit back on to the Welsh mountainside where we had started our caving adventure a few hours earlier – disappointed at the thought of having to return after an exhilarating underground adventure.
Caving is something we have tried only once before as a family – a short taste in the Peak District about 5 years ago. This time we ventured into northern Wales and experienced a wonderful blend of history and adventure with Go Below. This really was an ed-venture – a mixture of education and adventure – and a chance to create exciting memories together as a family in the outdoors.
We love doing adventures as a family, getting outside, exploring and pushing our comfort zones – it is very rewarding. It is a healthy past time and brings you closer together as a family.
The last head torch, belonging to our instructor, flickered off, plunging us into darkness. I heard gasps and uneasy laughs around me as we looked around, trying to see the cave wall, or even the person next to us.
“Wave your hand in front of your face,” our instructor said, and I did so. “Can you see it?”
A chorus of ‘no’s. I could imagine him grinning.
“Then we’re in pitch black. People talk about it being pitch black at night, but you often have the stars, the moon, a kind of light source enabling you to see something. But it’s only when it’s this dark – so dark that you can’t even see you hand in front of your face – that it’s pitch black. There’s no light managing to get this far under the ground.”
He turned his torch back on, dazzling me. “Come on, let’s go.”
That’s what I loved about Go Below – the blend of adventure and history. I’m pretty mad about both of these things, so I loved the zip wire over the lagoon, the traverse and abseil into a cavern and the raft across water 60ft deep, but I also enjoyed just as much the history side of the adventure. Passing rotting mine carts, being shown crumbling shoes left in the mines for good luck and never collected, the demonstration of how dark it would have been without the lights we rely so much on. That made it just as good an experience, for me, as the adventure.
My favourite part of our Go Below adventure was when we turned a corner and through the darkness saw a beautiful underground lake. A dinghy was sat waiting and, after putting on life jackets on, we boarded the boat and were handed an oar. As we paddled the short journey across the lake, our guide told us how the water below us was 60 feet deep. Lumps of jagged slate were sticking out from the ceiling. The water, when illuminated by our head torches, was a lovely aqua marine; it was beautiful!
Near the end of the trip we climbed a waterfall – this was a wet climb and I’m glad we were wearing waterproof trousers. Some poor people in our group weren’t so they got wet!
The last part of the trip involved walking up an incredible underground river before climbing a ladder and emerging out of a trapdoor at ground level again. There was much more to this jam-packed caving trip, but these were just my favourite bits.
Trip organised by AXA Insurance as part of their Live Boldly campaign. http://www.axa.co.uk/insurance/personal/liveboldly/
Talking at festivals
Recently we’ve been touring the country talking at various festivals about our story, the life changes that we’ve made and what is important to us: family time and getting outdoors. The last three festivals that we’ve talked at have been a literary festival, an outdoor / adventure festival and, most recently, a health and well being festival. Each festival had a different agenda, audience and outcome but each proved to be a valuable platform to talk about and share ideas for spending time with your family in the Great Outdoors.
Why the Great Outdoors is good for you
The natural world has long been associated with health; it can have a positive impact on us both physically and mentally. The problem is that we live in a modern world that increasingly pulls away from nature and time in the outdoors. Science tells us that spending time in the outdoors helps both our bodies and our brains – getting outside makes us happier – but so many of us struggle to balance our work with other aspects of our life, so many children spend less and less time outdoors.
Pennine Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Celebration
This well-organised, professional, and well-executed conference on September 29th, aimed to highlight good practice and innovation that has taken place in the area over recent years, as well as offering the chance to hear about exciting developments happening right now. A mixture of health and social care professionals, service users and members of the public spent time mingled amongst the impressive surroundings of Blackburn cathedral, promoting ideas and services with each other, and sharing stories. We were invited to share our story and promote the health benefits of the Great Outdoors.
We felt honoured to be asked to be part of the day; we benefited from the opportunity to hear other fascinating talks throughout the day and were impressed by the event overall and its organisers.
Photo credits: timbradleyphotography.com