Basecamp Adventure 8: Cycling
Our latest Basecamp family adventure (number 8 out of 25) was one that involved a day of off-road cycling in the forest. Road cycling has never appealed as much since we like to appreciate the environment and escape into nature plus there are no vehicles to content with….only pedestrians and the odd tree root! We love cycling because it is something that we can all do together, some maybe slower or faster than others.
We chose a campsite (Camping and Caravanning site: Riverside Gardens) not far from the National Trust site, Clumber Park which meant that we could cycle from the site to the park and then explore the trails – a good warm up really.
Cycling is great exercise and a fun way to spend time outside. Unlike walking and running which we also love to do, you can cover more mileage. For this cycling trip we had no set route and spent a few hours exploring the park freely. In the past we’ve followed set tracks of varying distances and even completed longer trails such as the Trans Penine trail over consecutive days. There are all sorts of tracks and trails around the country of varying lengths – some of which are linear or circular – so there’s always somewhere to cycle!
Cycling has become an increasingly popular sport but you don’t often see whole families out enjoying it together. We had our bikes stolen last year and certainly missed going out for pedal. We’ll be looking our for more places to explore by bike in the future.
For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk
5 ways to make a weekend outdoorsy
As a family that love to spend time in the outdoors we’re always looking for places, new and old, to visit and activities to do. So on a recent trip to North Wales we went in search of an fun-filled, action-packed weekend. Here are five ways we made it outdoorsy:
1. River / valley walk
There’s something magical about being near water and in Wales there’s plenty of chances to walk beside the sea, a lake or a river. The Welsh landscape has been sculptured by rivers cutting through rock to create valleys of lush vegetation.
2. Get Wet
3. One pot with a view
When the weather is dry and clear, hiking up a hillside or mountain can be a rewarding experience. Rather than take out a crumpled sandwich or bag of crisps, sit and enjoy the view with a cup of soup or one pot that you’ve rustled up in the outdoors.
We love to cook up a one-pot with a view and made the most of a sunny day in Wales, walking up a hillside in Snowdonia, stopping to cook and eat while looking down on the valley below. The ‘tucksack’ carries a few essentials: basic, compact cooking equipment and a few simple ingredients.
4. Forage and cook with a wild ingredient
At various times of the year there are possibilities to gather or forage for ingredients for a meal or to simply munch on.
Lastly, to stretch those weekend adventures over more than one day, spend a night or two under the stars in a tent, bivy, hammock or caravan.
We certainly didn’t want to leave Wales in a hurry and took both our Basecamp caravan and a four-birth Berghaus tent with us. Both were pitched up by the river at Dolgan campsite near Capel Curig – it was the perfect location for exploring all that the area had to offer and somewhere I’m sure we’ll be returning to in the future! The kids loved playing by the river and the surrounding mountains offered a fantastic backdrop for the evening sunsets.
BaseCamp Adventure 7: Family Gorge Walking
Our 25 basecamp Adventures Project includes many adventures we did for our first book 100 Family Adventures when we were all a few years younger. We wanted to revisit some of them in order to enjoy them again, of course, but also to experience them at a slighter more adventurous level now that the girls are older.
What is gorge walking?
One of the activities we had as one of our favourites was Gorge Walking (or gill scrambling depending where you are). The basic idea is to scramble up or down a flowing river as it travels down steep terrain where the water is quite shallow, but fast flowing. It can involve jumps into plunge pools, rides down natural flume sections and climbs and abseils. Oh, and quite often you are partially (or fully) submerged in cold – no wait, very cold – water.
So, as you can imagine, the combination of adventure, adrenalin and water temperature makes for a thrilling experience.
Managing the risks
It’s worth saying at this point, that – for obvious reasons – there are some risks involved with kind of activity: slippery rocks, deep fast flowing water etc This means you ought to either have all the kit and local knowledge to your own scramble safely, or you go with an experienced activity provider. We did the latter and went with Canyon Wales. Not only did this ensure we were all kitted up in high-quality wetsuits, dry socks, harnesses, buoyancy aids and helmets, it also meant we were in the hands of someone with great experience of the landscape and water conditions. This meant we felt as safe as we possibly could (given the nature of the activity). It just so happened that Tom – founder of Canyon Wales – was great fun and brilliant with the younger members of the group – an added bonus.
The trip itself was fantastic fun and as good – if not better – than we had hoped. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was – dare I say it – ‘gorge-ous.’ (sorry). Rather than describe things in words, the following pictures will probably do a better job.
Don’t just look at the photos! Here’s a film we made of our gorge walking fun:
So good, we want more!
So, that’s gorge walking ticked off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves doing it again – particularly if we are in Snowdonia and Tom has a few spaces we can book!
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk When in N.Wales, visit: http://canyonwales.co.uk/
Wake up – it’s time for adventure
The forecast didn’t look good; a high percentage of rain was expected throughout the day and the remnant winds of Storm Doris were still reeking havoc across the country and countryside. We refused to be deterred and set off determined to get outside together for some family time in the outdoors. Knowing that the conditions on Kinder Scout were going to be wet and wild made us feel even more excited about the day ahead and we had some reassurance knowing that the girls’ would be toasty and dry in their new Berghaus jackets.
After a hearty breakfast on the way, we arrived and got ourselves ready – in the right gear for the predicted wet and windy conditions, after all there’s no such as things as bad weather only bad clothing which luckily we don’t have. The rain came and went throughout our walk and the wind buffeted us about as we climbed up Crowden Clough up to and across the Kinder Scout plateau. We’ve been up the Clough before, but every time the water level is different, and on this crazily wet day, it felt like a new adventure for us all. And that’s the great thing about going into the outdoors: the experience is always different with elements of the unexpected – I guess that’s why as humans we get so much from the simple act of going outside… it reconnects us to natural world that our modern lifestyles so often deny us.
Okay the weather didn’t allow us many amazing views but there was something exhilarating about being outside exposed to the elements. We all loved being in the outdoors together and returned to our van at the end of the day a little weary, wind-swept and smiling, oh and with a pile of wet gear to be dried out back at Basecamp.
So, where shall we go next weekend?
Thanks to Blacks for sending the girls two 3 in 1 jackets to keep them dry and warm.
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 = 179 miles Cycle = 232 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/
32,005 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.