As the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions start to ease a little, many of us might be craving adventure beyond the garden gate. However, there is likely to be a while before we feel safe to travel the world again. Flights might also become expensive or overcrowded, so booking a trip away won’t be as simple as the pre-pandemic years.
If you are desperate to get away and experience something new, you don’t have to travel outside the country you live in. There are some incredible activities we can do within a short distance from our homes.
Mountain biking is a fantastic sport which gives you a feeling of freedom and being at one with the world. It also has the added benefit of being carbon-free. A bike is powered solely by you! No gas, no electricity – unless you have an e-bike, it’s just you and your bike riding through nature.
You need to have some necessary skills nailed before you head out on a real adventure. If you can’t find a trail centre that is offering tuition, then you can learn the basics through YouTube and by getting out and giving it a go. Most trail centres will have some skills loops, and you’ll also find people there who will be happy to talk you through anything you might need. MTB riders are incredibly friendly and love welcoming new people into the sport. Once you feel confident about the small skills loops, you can head off and take on one of the simple trails. This will usually be through woodland and will be marked clearly with coloured markers.
There is some kit you should invest in. Never ride without a first aid kit, especially if you are riding alone. It’s easy to come off and cut yourself, and you don’t want to be stuck without the right kit to sort yourself out. You should also take some tools and a spare chain link in case you have any issues with the bike. Carrying a spare inner tube will help make sure you don’t have to walk back with a flat too! If you wear glasses then purchase a good pair of prescription sunglasses which will help to protect your eyes and can improve your vision on the trails. Or you may opt for goggles like the ones you see people wear when they are skiing. Helmets are essential on a Mountain bike, and you can improve the comfort of your ride with some padded cycle shorts.
Once you have all the kit and are confident on the trails, then you can start to look for a real adventure. Maybe take a couple of days to ride and wild camp in your local woodland or mountains. There are lots of unmarked mountain bike trails which you can find online. This is something you can do alone, with your partner or with the whole family. Just remember to hydrate, eat plenty of carbohydrates and rest where you need too!
Horse riding is another activity that puts you right in the heart of nature while giving you a feeling of being at one with an animal. Spending time with horses can be therapeutic and offer a significant boost to your mental health.
You can’t just head off and ride into the hills if you don’t have any experience, so you will need to have some understanding of how to ride. There are lots of riding schools that offer guided tours of your local area. This is great because they will also supply you with all the equipment you will need, from the horse to the riding hat.
Jeans aren’t the best for riding, so look online and invest in a comfortable pair of trousers which are made for the task. You should consider your footwear too, you want something comfortable but light fitting – don’t go all wild west and turn up in a pair of cowboy boots.They need to be hardwearing, especially if you are spending time around the horses on the ground. It can hurt if one ton of horse treads on you with his hoof!
Riding with the family is fun, and you don’t have to gallop across the plains to enjoy every minute. You could pack a picnic and then relax halfway through your ride and make the most of the quiet and peace of nature. You may also find riding holidays that last a week. On these, you will camp out along the way and probably be with a group of other people—a great way to have lasting memories and without leaving your country.
If you don’t like the idea of riding a bike or a horse, then you could take a simple hiking trip. With a backpack and a tent, you could head out for days and have some alone time.
Our mental health is so important and sometimes just walking and following a map can help you to clear your head and work through any anxieties you have. You will need to make sure you have enough food and water, or access to these things along your route. When you are planning a hike, be aware of where the route is going before you leave. You must have access routes to a small town and that you know where your start and endpoint is.
Don’t take on anything too crazy unless you are an experienced hiker. People can get lost in the wilderness, and we shouldn’t underestimate the power of mother nature. Check the weather and make sure you have your mobile phone charged up and means to charge it if you are going for a few days. Footwear is vital, and having a first aid kit with you so you can take care of any blisters or cuts you may pick up along the way.
There are some fantastic routes that you can walk and using Facebook to research how easy or complicated they are is an excellent way of planning your epic hike. You don’t have to head out the first time for a couple of days, and it can be better to start small then build up to a multi-day hike. Taking camping equipment can also be heavy, so to spend a day practising with all of the kit you will take will ensure you can handle what lies ahead.
With all of the different adventures, adding some wild camping into the mix gives an extra element of excitement. Wild camping is where you pitch your tent in the wilderness. There are some areas where you have to seek permission to do this so check out if there are any restrictions in place before you get set up and then fined! You also need to be aware of any mess that you leave behind you, and this goes beyond your trash. If you build a campfire, then you need to ensure it is out and there are no burning embers which could start a fire. You should also place back any rocks or logs that you used to set up camp. Respecting the nature that is around us is essential and will ensure that others can follow in your footsteps and experience the same adventure as you!
Travelling doesn’t have to mean getting on a plane and heading to another country, sometimes everything we need to have the most fantastic break away, is right here on our doorstep.