A Quiet Adventure
As the sun slipped beneath the horizon and the dusk transformed the world into a paradise of glowing pink and purple, gentle waves lapped at the side of the canoe as it meandered over the lake waters. I wondered, as I looked around at the quiet wilderness, why I ever thought adventure had to be complicated.
At the beginning of the year, I decided that adventure was going to take priority in my life. The UK is filled with opportunities to try new things, to venture into the unknown and to push comfort zones, and areas such as the Lake District make the transition into a more adventurous life pretty accessible. However, adventure does not have to mean full-throttle, adrenaline-filled days of activity (although, those days are great too), it can also be a simple act of embracing spontaneity and following your heart.
I found myself in the Lake District and, on a whim, decided to meet with my friend Arron (who is now my boyfriend… Turns out it’s hard to resist someone who takes you for a sunset paddle on a first date!). It was early evening and I had a few hours to kill before I headed home so I figured a micro-adventure was just what I needed. We thought we would grab a canoe (most lakes in the Lake District have places to hire out kit such as boats etc.) and head out onto the lake for an evening paddle. The midsummer sun was still warm and bright and there was plenty of hours of light left in the day to appreciate. We clambered into the canoe and paddled slowly, soaking up the beautiful evening. The water lapped gently against the side of the boat and the breeze that carried over the water was refreshing and welcome.
We paddled to a rocky outcropping only accessible by boat and tied up the canoe before clambering onto land for a small picnic. Our conversations turned to “must-do” things in the outdoors and when I revealed that I’d never been camping (I know… right?!), a new spontaneous plan came together in seconds: instead of going home later in the evening, we’d find a spot with a pretty view to cook up some food and spend the warm evening wild camping on a tiny island on Ullswater.
We jumped back in the canoe and paddled back to shore with renewed vigour and jumped in the van to pick up some camping gear that Arron had lying around at work. For wild camping, especially on a warm, still night, only a few camping basics are needed. This makes it very accessible for most of us to get outside and spent a night under the stars with little-to-no effort.
On the drive to collect the gear, the sun was setting and casting a beautiful, sanguine glow across the mountains. The Lake District is full of conveniently placed lay-bys and parking spaces, so we pulled in, not wanting to miss Mother Nature’s lovely midsummer display. Tiny adventures rely on appreciating every moment: if you only have twenty-four hours to escape your daily grind, then it’s imperative not just to cram your day full, but to take time to really soak up the quietude of each special moment, even if it wasn’t in the itinerary to take half an hour away to watch the sunset.
Once we’d watched the sunset and collected our camping gear, we got back into the canoe on Ullswater lake and paddled across to a tiny island. It was surrounded by jagged looking rocks but once we’d landed the boat, there was plenty of space and flat grass surrounded by trees where we could set up camp. It was really special to see Ullswater and the surrounding mountains from a different perspective. As dusk fell, the sky melted into shades of purple and blue and the cries of the nocturnal animals began to ring out over the water. It was still so warm and beautiful out that after we cooked a simple meal, we decided not to pitch the tent at all. Instead, we laid out the camping mats and blankets on a large, flat spot in the centre of the island and slept in sleeping bags under the huge, sparkling night sky.
An afternoon on a lake in the Lake District is a must for anyone in the area, but add in wild camping and a trip can transform into a magical micro-adventure. I learned on this impromptu trip that adventures don’t have to be jam-packed and adrenaline-filled, they can also just be the simple act of saying “I don’t want to go home yet, what else can we do?”.