I wrote this article for my good friend Kevin in 2009 for his Natural Lore Blog.
I feel that we do need to remind ourselves about the importance of ‘Adventuring’ every now and then.
Ask yourself the question, “When was the last time I had a really good adventure?”
Now be truthful to yourself.
Was it recent? Was it enjoyable? Was it different?
In my line of work as an Adventure Training Instructor, health and safety and risk assessment are the norm. Everything has to be planned and assessed for each activity I am involved in. I have to be qualified in each activity I run because I work with youngsters and inexperienced adults.
Once I have planned and assessed an activity, it is no longer an adventure to me, although I hope it will be for the kids and other adults that take part in that activity. Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy my work, but taking a group out on organised walk in the woods or mountains is not really an adventure for me as it has already been planned in great detail.
Where the adventure for me comes in is, for example, when my group is trundling along a woodland path and I call a halt, then say something like “I’m bored now: let’s see what’s down there”, pointing off into the deep and dark woods. These off-piste adventures usually go for a few hundred metres so the group can get back onto the pre-planned route quickly.
What’s interesting is how such adventures often seem to scare people, not really I think because the woods are deep and dark but because they are leaving the path. As a nation I think we have had it drummed into us since childhood that we need to stick to the pre-planned path or we could never be found again.
In some places leaving the public footpath means trespassing, but not always. It is all about knowing where to have your adventure. The Countryside Right of Way (CROW) Act has opened up a lot of new land for adventuring (get the latest OS map of your area to see where the CROW access is). Also speaking to local landowners and explaining what you do can open up whole areas to adventure in.
Scanning my map before entering the wood tells me what I need to know in regards to health and safety and I am constantly assessing risk as the group moves through the wood. But I am seeing new things all the time , and that makes it an adventure for me. For many in the group they are realising for the first time in their lives that it’s possible to get off the beaten track and enter a whole new world, and that is their adventure.
If you’re going to lead an adventure like this, teach your group to always look back at their route so that the path is recognisable if they have to turn back because of an obstruction. Mostly though, take your time and explore and enjoy your new surroundings.
- Have an adventure every time you go out so you can say it has been recent.
- Take your time and explore so you can say it has been enjoyable.
- Finally, have your adventures in various locations so you can say they have been different.