So, Inspired by Alistair Humphries challenge to a year of Microadventures and limited by time I decided to use May for a journey round home.
After spending time over my local OS map trying to find woods and hills the blindingly obvious struck me. I live dead centre of a the 'Island' created by the Jubilee and Thames Rivers. Why not walk that? Its only about 15 miles, will take less than a day and has lots of opportunities for the obligatory overnight Bivvi.
Inspired by the simplicity and ease of access I did the all important thing and committed myself mentally to the task. The usual domestic and work demands meant that I could fit the journey in to a late Wednesday evening through to Thursday lunchtime.
It was strange leaving the house after dinner at about 7PM at a time when it felt like I should be settling down for the semi finals of Britains Got Talent. On reflection it struck me that this was the whole point of a Microadventure - do something different. I had deliberately packed minimally. So, compared with other trips I've done where my pack seemed unnecessarily heavy I was pleased to be walking with a spring in my step. Again, that idea of carrying only what you need rather than what you want seemed to resonate and create a good feel for the journey.
The first hour saw me follow the Jubilee River East parallel with the M4. Not pretty but already starting to create that all important sense of otherness that these trips can generate. I soon drew level with the good old playing fields of Eton, crossed Datchet Golf course and joined the South bank of the Thames. I've often biked this journey but being on foot meant I could actually walk the River bank properly. That meant finding the field between the railway and the river and the boatyard I've never seen before, eerily quiet in the mid evening after work. After two hours I was crossing the footbridge between Windsor and Eton. The feeling of being on an adventure really struck home as the light began to fail, other people starting their pub and restaurant nights out and me on route to a hedge somewhere!
The walk along the Thames was deserted now as night began to fall slowly as did a fine drizzle! Ten PM found me in a nice secluded spot where a quick hop over a fence found me a corner of a field where I could pitch my tarp and crawl in to my Bivvi bag secure in the knowledge I could not be seen but would see anyone approaching me. Funny how despite being almost invisible in the dark and in one of the safest countries in the World we still have a small fear of being out of doors at night.
I survived the night and enjoyed waking at dawn to the sound of the Dawn Chorus and the sight of a fresh new bright day that you can only really appreciate when you are part of it. A doze till about six thirty and then a quick pack up of my camp before heading to an open spot in the sun for breakfast. Another great advantage of travelling light is the speed you can get yourself on the trail again.
My trip then took me on the final stage of the loop. Under the M4, past Maidenhead bridge and re joining the Jubliee River. In the process passing the usual commuter jams with a smugness that only Micoadventurers can have!
I final view of my surroundings before heading home reinforced the point made in Alistairs book that a trip like this really opens your eyes to what lies on your doorstep and often how close we all are to nature and to the beauty of our surroundings if we just take the time to appreciate it.
Roll on Junes adventure!
Kit list -
35l ruck sack and walking poles
Snugppak Jungle sleeping bag
Karrimor sleep mat
Alpkit Hunka bivvi bag
Thermal top, Down jacket, spare socks, lightweight walking trousers, wooly hat and gloves, Buff
Trangia burger, Trangia 'Triangle', metal mug, 200Ml Meths
Anti septic gel, loo roll, trowel, tooth brush
2 l water
Instant porridge, Snickers bar and coffee bag