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Explorer Belinda Kirk on the power of everyday adventure to transform your life...
Over the past 26 years, I’ve led dozens of international expeditions. I’ve walked through Nicaragua, sailed across the Atlantic, searched for camels in China’s ‘desert of death’, discovered ancient rock paintings in Lesotho and gained a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain.
However, major expeditions aren’t easy to fit into everyday life. My advice is to start small - you don’t need huge amounts of time or money to live more adventurously. Everyone can do it, no matter their experience, fitness or age. And finding time for achievable adventures that fit into our modern lives isn’t just fun – it’s good for us, too. As a force for change, adventure can be powerful like few others. Here are five everyday adventures to try...
There’s a long list of adventurous activities you can try as part of a day trip, including kayaking, hiking, navigating, surfing, scuba diving, bushcraft, stand-up paddleboarding, climbing and rafting. The satisfaction gained from being brave enough to try, followed by feelings of achievement when you paddle your first lake or climb a wall, result in authentic feelings of pride.
All you need is a swimming costume, a towel and an open mind. There are wild swimming clubs all over the country now -find your local community and join a swim. If lakes and rivers are too much of a stretch first time, you could start with an alfresco swim in a lido. There’s evidence the cold water boosts your immune system, reduces stress and gives you a natural high.
The natural rhythm of the sun is something the majority of us take for granted but walking or cycling into the approaching darkness just as everyone else is settling in for the night gives a sense of extra excitement and challenge. It’s a great way to experience real adventure and thrill with little planning or travel. Getting up in the dark to summit a local hill or head to your nearest beach for the sunrise can elicit unique feelings of awe and inspiration.
Spending nights outside is one of the simplest ways to live more adventurously. If you're one of those people who has sworn off camping, re-start comfortably. An easy start is to camp in your (or your friend’s) garden. Think duvets instead of sleeping bags and a real toilet just steps away. Keen to take it a step further? Use a bivvy bag or hammock instead of a tent, try wild camping or even camp on your own.
No matter how much we intend to add more adventure to the everyday, it's easy to put it off. So it's good to make a regular date with adventure. That's why I established Wild Night Out, Britain’s annual night of adventure, where we push ourselves to do something adventurous (find more details at explorersconnect.com). It could be a late-night feast on a hilltop, a night cycle or nocturnal nature watch –whatever fits you; there are no rules. What’s important is that we make time for adventure.
Adventure Revolution by Belinda Kirk (Piatkus, £14.99) is out now.