I think my love of adventure started with being raised on the Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons while living in the country. We built tree houses, bases in the next door farm’s straw bales and rode ponies. But it really began properly from the age of about 8. I went to a boarding school on Dartmoor. It was a wonderful place for adventure sports. We had an amazing teacher, Mr Allen, who might not have coined the phrase, but certainly was an amazing advocate of “adventure challenges” or if you prefer, “outdoor pursuits” or “extreme sports”.
From an early age I got involved in climbing both in indoors – in the old Shire horse stable aka the Giraffe House – and outdoor on various tours. I loved caving beneath Wales and The Mendips. Both dry and wet caves fascinated me. One of favourite adventure challenges however, was river running, which involved large tractor inner tubes and parking your backside within and floating down the Devon rapids.
I went on trips to Lundy Island, walking, swimming with seals and puffin spotting. We went to North Wales, where we climbed and took on Snowdon. We went letter boxing (I’ll post about this someday but for now look at this link). Dry slope skiing and sailing. All before I was 13.
When my family moved to North Somerset, near Chew Lake, we started sailing. First on small single-handed toppers, then on a Lazer 2, a larger 2 man trapeze dingy. Following A levels I then wanted to set out on my first gap year adventure. I trained to be a sailing instructor in Vassiliki, Greece. The course was 4 weeks, but if I also trained as a windsurfing instructor I could do 10 weeks. So from nothing I learnt windsurfing, and with the reliable wind, I was able to plain, harness and foot straps within a few weeks. A love was born.
My second gap year adventure was a snowboard season. I lived off hardly any money, and constantly went hungry. But snowboarded everyday, even New Year’s Day. My love of the wilderness was developed. I loved hiking up Arête and making fresh tracks. Returning to the piste and the crowds always made me a little sad. I remember stopping for a break in the trees, in fresh powder, blue sky, not a human sound to be heard. It was a blissful moment.
Returning to the UK, I spent a season in Poole teaching sailing and windsurfing. Then went to university. I fell into a crowd of surfers, this comparatively uncomplicated sport compared to windsurfing appealed, and I very slowly and very painfully tried to learn. I kept up the windsurfing as I was good at it, and surfed when there was no wind. We spent most of our time down in Cornwall or on the south coast of Devon windsurfing, as well as chasing swell down the coast of France and Northern Spain, and through the Outer Hebrides.
Since university my windsurfing has dropped off. I have kept up the surfing – although not nearly as much as I would like. Moving to London, then Brighton meant even less windsurfing, so I started mountain biking on the South Downs.
The family has meant that surf trips have had to be cut down, mountain biking and road cycling has taken over, as they can be done close to home and in shorter periods.
That is my past. This blog is my future. One filled with adventure for me and the family. I hope it will inspire me to do. To go out and seek. To write more and to take more photos.
Bring on Spring. We now have a family tent. Cornwall, Devon and Wales beckon.
I would love to know how you got into “adventure” or ” extreme” sports? Or whether, like me, you yearn to do more?