'Stay Home' doesn’t mean you can’t 'Stay Adventurous'

Greg Dickinson
·5-min read
Take a different route, on your next wander - Getty
Take a different route, on your next wander - Getty

It is becoming a familiar routine. Another impending school holiday in lockdown, another 'Stay Away' message from local authorities.

Today, police forces in England’s popular southwest regions issued messages reminding people of lockdown rules during half term. "Devon and Cornwall aren't going anywhere, please visit another time," tweeted the Devon and Cornwall police.

"We are in lockdown. We are closed. Please, please do not come," said Alistair Handyside, South West Tourism Alliance chairman.

So stay at home we must. But this doesn’t mean you cannot find adventure, wonder and variety close to home.

One gateway to local adventure is through the medium of good old fashioned maps. Call me an anorak, but the other week I bought a copy of the Clapham Common Ordnance Survey map from 1870 to see how the local area has changed in 150 years. I keep it in my backpack on my lunchtime wanders, and what was once a residential corner of southwest London is now a landscape of lost ponds and forgotten farmland.

For a more contemporary cartographic foray, Ordnance Survey has a website called OS Greenspace which allows you to search your local area map to find accessible parks and open spaces. They have specially curated walking routes available, too, if you’re after some new ideas.

Or, of course, you can carve out new routes of your own without a map. The other day, half way through my usual route to the common, I took a random left turn. What I found was the post-war Notre Dame Estate, housing a perfectly symmetrical, opal white 18th-century orangery as its centrepiece (you can read more about the Clapham Orangery, and its links to Clapham’s colourful history, here).

Another option is to mix up the times of the day that you explore your familiar routes. Yesterday, I popped to the park at the crack of dawn before work – something I don't usually muster the energy to do. I was rewarded by a frozen-over pond, with ducks ignoring their parents' advice by trotting about on the surface.

The scene at Clapham Common on Greg's early morning wander - Greg Dickinson
The scene at Clapham Common on Greg's early morning wander - Greg Dickinson

“Adventure is a state of mind,” somebody probably once said. So put on your walking boots, dig out an old OS map, or simply challenge yourself to take a different detour every day. Because there are still things to discover yet, in the 3-mile radius from your front door.

Here are some more suggestions from our writers.

Watch how nature changes, day by day

Simon Parker, adventurer and Telegraph Travel writer

I’m in lockdown in Leiston, Suffolk, and I’m a 40-minute walk to the North Sea. Every afternoon I down tools and trudge over heathland to see and hear the waves. Each time I visit, the water behaves slightly differently than the day before it. Sometimes the swell looks messy and confused, and resembles a percussion warming up before a recital. On others, the elements combine to create tubular, Bali-like waves, that slurp and burst so sweetly, you could isolate a recording and flog it to a posh hotel spa.

These daily walks have certainly kept me sane in the past few months. They’ve also kept me relatively fit, too. One time, I strapped on the heart-rate monitor I normally use for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and was intrigued to learn that an 80-minute stomp to the beach and back burns the same calories (600) as a 40-minute class. This ordeal has proven to me, even more, how much we need to be outside.”

The North Sea near Leiston, Suffolk - Getty
The North Sea near Leiston, Suffolk - Getty

Carry a camera to find wonder right under your nose

Phoebe Smith, adventurer and Telegraph Travel writer

This time last year I had just completed an Antarctic-style adventure here in Britain, raising money for the #WeTwo Foundation while walking and wild camping the length of mainland Britain. Along the way there were mountains, Scots pine forests, heathlands, chalk downs and moorland. My daily views were far-reaching and the possibilities for paths taken were endless. Fast forward a year and now my adventures are forced to involve only a short journey from my doorstep.

Living on the cusp of the M25 and M4, my home had always been a stop gap between adventures. Now it became the base camp to any exploration. A lover of wild remote places, my sanity depends on journeying to wildernesses. And that’s how I discovered these microscopic worlds on my Berkshire doorstep, along the banks of the River Thames.

Bring a camera to see the world in microscopic detail - Getty
Bring a camera to see the world in microscopic detail - Getty

By carrying with me a lens that only allowed me to notice the little things, I was forced to make a short walk that should have taken me minutes, last for over an hour. Tall trees I should have been wandering amid in Scotland were replaced with tiny forget-me-not flowers, large mammals that I should have been watching in Canada were now tiny insects almost invisible to the naked eye, and northern lights promised to me in the Arctic were now the dazzling purple sheen of bluebells in the sun.

I won’t always keep my adventures within such a small distance from home, but what this pandemic has taught me is that adventures, though best served from the top of a mountain as a yawning panorama that takes effort to see by climbing the tallest of mountains, can be just as thrilling, when – literally – right in front of your nose.

How are you finding adventure from your doorstep? Comment below to let us know your lockdown discoveries.