At this time of year I like to take advantage of the long days and get away for a quick overnight trip. These trips are an ideal way to balance outdoor sport with family life. It’s quite possible to leave home after the children are in bed, have a camp in a lovely remote spot, bag some hills in the morning and be home for lunch. I’ve always called this type of outing an overnight dog walk, but I’ve recently discovered that it has a name – a Microadventure.
I first heard the term through the blog of Alistair Humphreys, an adventurer and author who crops up frequently in the outdoor social media community. His achievements include cycling round the world and rowing across the Atlantic. A Microadventure is now not only an Official Thing, it is also a Product and a Book. I say good on him for popularising the concept of the short, local adventure. A few years ago I would have been against encouraging the hordes, now I am more relaxed about it. Getting more people out and about doing this type of thing will surely make the world a better place. Our wild places are increasingly under threat and the more people who care about them the more chance we have of saving them from inappropriate development.
And to be quite frank it is highly unlikely that the highlands will become overrun with freshly recruited microadventurers. It would not occur to most people to do such a thing and I’d wager that only a fraction of those who read Alistair’s book will actually be sufficiently motivated to head out and Live The Dream. Even though such activity comes naturally to me, on Friday evening, sitting in a sunny garden after a beer and a barbecue, it was very hard to raise the motivation. But the next two weekends are booked up with a wedding and a parental visit, and the weekend after that is the solstice. The nights will soon be drawing in. Realising that if I didn’t seize the moment I might have to wait until next year, I packed a bag, jumped in the car, and headed west at 2015 hrs.
My destination was the Fannichs, where my non-systematic approach to Munro bagging had left me with two peaks to collect, Sgurr nan Clach Geala and Sgurr nan Each. The tops were cloaked in cloud, so instead of the high camp that I had originally planned, I elected to march for an hour up the glen of the Allt Breabaig. Displacing some deer, I pitched up on a patch of flat grass beside the burn in the upper reaches of the glen. The light was fading quickly in the overcast conditions and the dreaded midge forced me to retreat inside my tent about 1045 hrs.
The morning was not inspiring. When I awoke at 0600 hrs my view onto the craggy flanks of Sgurr Breac was a cloudy one, but after a half-hour doze the tops were beginning to clear and I emerged into a midge-less morning for coffee and cereal. My reward was an outstanding day of no wind, excellent visibility and expansive views in all directions. I lingered on each summit: crisps on Sgurr nan Each; chai, trail mix, nuts and seeds on Sgurr nan Clach Geala; oatcakes and cheese on Meall a’Chrasgaidh; photography on all. Back home by 1400 hrs, satisfied and wondering why I don’t do this sort of thing more often.