Sometimes going outdoors can seem like a chore. I have often worked with (particularly) young people who get easily bored outdoors unless there is something to hold their attention. Of course this is not just a criticism of young people, I have had such difficulties working with all ages. In fact it is one of the tasks of an outdoor leader to enthuse and inspire others to want to be outdoors!
It is the purpose of this blog to give you some ideas to make your time outdoors a bit more interesting and hopefully motivate you to get outside more…Please feel free to add comments and also your own ideas.
- Plan your own adventures
For about £20 you can buy an OS Map , a compass and a basic learn navigation book, this could open up a whole new area of discovery for you, off the beaten track away from signposts, roads and people! Taking control of your journey can give you a great deal of satisfaction particularly when it goes well. It is best to start in familiar areas in good weather and ensure you can follow the map before going further afield. Before you know it you will be pouring over maps and planning routes all over the country!
- Brush up your identification skills
Learning to identify certain animals, birds, trees and wild flowers can add interest to any outing and add value to anyone with you. Birdwatching seems quite a geeky subject but I have piqued the interest of even the most staunch city dweller by passing on a few ID traits of some of our more common birds. Once you know the basics you can learn calls and songs, know habitats and mating rituals….a great way to impress your friends or your kids!
- Take your bike off road
The UK has a whole network of bridleways to be taken advantage of not to mention the growing number of trail centres appearing around the country. Do you have a mountain bike in the shed gathering dust? Why not get it serviced with new brakes, cables and tyres and get out there. Of course if you have already learnt to read a map (See No. 1) all you need to do is find some trails near to home, or you could travel to a trail centre and take advantage of some exquisite man made trails. Most centres have easy trails (signposted green) for beginners but also cater for improvers (blue) experienced (red) and hardcore! (black). A solid guide to trail centres in the UK can be found here and the good mountain biking guide provides a comprehensive overview of mountain biking areas in the UK with maps and links to further reading.
- Take some pictures
Taking on a photography project can be a great reason to get outdoors. As well as the more obvious subject matter such as mountains and wildlife there are also other subjects to consider such as people in the landscape, mans impact on the environment or the changing weather patterns. Be creative, learn the rules of photography then break them (clichéd I know but relevant all the same!). Consider an IPhone project, we always seem to have our phones with us, share your pictures on Instagram or other sharing platforms.
- Go out at extraordinary times for extraordinary adventures
Consider going out at sunrise or sunset for some memorable experiences. The light is so different, the atmosphere serene, in the morning everything is just waking up, birds singing and in the evening you are heading out whilst most people are off home. Why not consider an overnight camp or bivvy, of course this would be once you have gained more confidence and experience, it would certainly help your photography skills.
- Become a weather watcher
A great British past time! Taking an interest in weather patterns can prove absorbing, whether it is cloud spotting, forecasting or learning to read a chart it will add to your outdoor knowledge and enhance your experience. There is a wealth of literature out there on this subject but to get you started the cloud spotters guide is a popular text as is Pedgley’s mountain weather. Knowing where the prevailing winds come from, spotting an incoming front, or knowing what the numbers mean on a pressure chart will all aid greatly when out in the hills or when planning a journey.
- Enter an event
If you are more experienced in the outdoors then why not try one of the many events that have appeared around the country. Open adventure run a series of multi activity events called the Open 5, these normally involve mountain biking, running and navigation, there are also a number of off-road bike events; book my ride runs the popular adventure x series throughout the year and are great fun. For the more hardcore there is the OMM mountain marathon and then there is the Rat Race coast to coast, 105 miles by bike, boat and running…not for the feint hearted.
- Try open water swimming
Very invigorating and liberating, open water swimming has become increasingly popular over the recent years, there are a number of books on the subject and a number of high profile events such as The Great North swim have been organised around the country. In its purest form, a pair of speedos/swimming costume and goggles is all that is required however a wetsuit does provide valuable warmth and extra buoyancy. It does take some getting used to and maybe you will be out of your comfort zone to begin with but once you take the plunge you will be hooked.
- Take a surfing lesson
If you get bored sitting on the beach and itch to get out onto the waves, why not try a surf lesson. There are plenty of surf schools up and down the coast from Scarborough to St. Ives . Most schools supply all the equipment and wetsuits and depending on the location a two hour beginner lesson should cost around £30.00
- Stand Up Paddle
SUP has become the buzzword in the outdoors over the past couple of years. If you don’t like the idea of being wiped out by a wave whilst surfing then this maybe more your cup of tea. The beauty of Stand Up Paddling is that it can be done on any body of water. It just requires a board and paddle. There are many outfits out there that offer it, particularly watersports centres. It really is great fun and a change from the traditional sports such as canoeing and kayaking. Info about the sport can be found here.
The final task having made it this far is to set a goal, to make a pact with yourself to try one of the above ideas and see how it works for you. In truth there are hundreds of ways of making your time outside worthwhile it’s just finding something that works for you. So let me know how you get on….