Three years ago I quit the rat race in search of creating a new story. I dared myself to believe there was a way to live a more adventurous life, to fill my days with the things that feed my soul and people that lift me higher. I dreamed of travelling, of being an explorer in every sense of the word, and spending more time in nature.
If there is one word to describe what my job is now, it’s storytelling.
A far cry from the world of sales I used to exist in. I tell stories about people, places and experiences in the hope that it might inspire your sense of wanderlust, your thirst for adventure and your desire to try something new.
Today, I am telling you a story that myself and photographer Tom Miles created, for the exact purpose of inspiring you to create your own comparative story.
This story is about a trail running adventure.
Have you ever thought what it would be like to pack small bag, jump on a train and head out of town? To find yourself in a forest where you can run, walk or just amble and explore the trails all to yourself. To spend the night wild camping under the stars, listening to the trees blow gently in the wind.
Have you felt the sense of freedom and independence that you can gain from creating something like this for yourself? From realising that experiences like these can have a profound impact on our lives, on how we view the world and how we feel about ourselves, without costing the earth or taking up a lot of time.
This is what I want for you.
My ‘While You Were Sleeping’ collaboration with Tom is based on the concept of maximising the time when you would normally be relaxing or sleeping at home to create a mini-adventure and make the most of the 24 hours we have in each day. I wanted to tell a visually beautiful story and Tom loved the idea, he was in.
The Planning Phase
We looked for a forest within easy reach from London. We found Liphook right in the middle of the South Downs National Park, accessible within 1hr 15 minutes on the train.
After looking at the maze of trails on an OS Map, I knew there would be ample to satisfy my desire to run freely and go where the wind takes me.
What I didn’t know, was that I would explore such a variety of places and views. From dense woodland to overgrown ferns and wide-open vistas overlooking the South Downs.
For wild camping* you need a sleeping bag, roll mat and bivvy bag. To save space and not have to carry too much, I used a hammock for the first time!
Sleeping under the stars without the walls of a tent takes a little getting used to, but feels magical!
What To Eat
Having worked up a hefty appetite by the time we set up camp, I got stuck into making dinner. A sachet of couscous, sliced chorizo and cheese is simple and makes for a delicious camp dinner.
Wake Up With Water
The temperature dropped during the night and I could really feel it in my hammock, so by the time first light crept into the forest I was eager to get up and go. It was homemade flapjacks for breakfast before a dip in a nearby river. After a cold night in the hammock, a dip in what felt like freezing water was not top of my list, but Tom dared me to brave it! Kinda glad I did...
I would absolutely love for you to plan a *microadventure of your own. Whether on your own or with a friend, it can be an unforgettable experience. I love it because it’s a way for me to create space and time away from the pressures of normal life, because it’s a chance to run trails and because sleeping under the stars has somehow become something that I can’t say no to.
If you have any questions about planning your own adventure let me know in the comments below and I'd be happy to help.
This is my challenge to you:
Inspire yourself and discover what your ‘While You Were Sleeping’ adventure could be. Pass it onto your friends and family, and inspire them! Go on, I dare you.
This was a passion project that happened to tick the box of what Tom and I were keen to create. A case of right time, right people and together we created something we are both proud to share. I really appreciate the time he put into planning to make sure everything worked. We had a lot to fit in, thank you Tom! All the kit I'm wearing in this blog is from Sweaty Betty's Girl On Fire collection which I'm a fan of. As always, it's amazing to collaborate with talented and passionate people.
*It is illegal to wild camp in England, but there are ways to get around it. The best option is to ask permission from the landowner, which is what we did. The second is to find a remote place, take the risk and leave without a trace, which is widely practised within the adventure community. The third is to go to Scotland where it is legal to wild camp anywhere due to the Right To Roam Act.
*Alastair Humphreys is the man who coined the term ‘Microadventure’. For more inspiration check out his website. Warning: you may get lost for hours there, some pretty cool ideas.