Wildcamping on a beach - A microadventure




 Back in 2016 I decided to do things a little differently, I’d returned from a music festival and realised I was turning middle aged. Things had to change.

 I needed something exciting in my life, something out of the ordinary, something just for me. But what? I started to consider the options: should I buy a sports car, get an earing or maybe have an affair. All of these sounded far too clichéd and the last one would be downright dangerous. No, I needed something else.

 It was whilst perusing the internet for adventure that I stumbled across Alastair Humphreys. Alastair is an author from England. He writes about his adventures exploring the world, but he is also very keen to push the idea of the microadventure; a short, local accessible adventure. Short, local, accessible I could do, and I wouldn’t even need to file for a divorce.

 I started to research the idea in more detail. A microadventure normally entails a hike of sorts, cooking and sleeping outdoors. These things had been a part of my life for years so maybe it was time I got back into it.

Time to get organised:
  •  What would I need?
  •  Where can I go?
  •  Who can I go with?

What would I need?
 After joining a few wild camping forums and reading through the various sources of information I came up with a list:

A tent or tarp shelter, a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove, pot, cup, cutlery, water bottle, headtorch, rucksack, compass, drybags and that was about it.

 As this was my first foray into the microadventure, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on kit.

After far too much research I went with the below:



All other items were purchased cheap from Amazon or second hand from Ebay.

A test pitch in the garden


Where can I go?
 This was a tricky one. With wild camping not strictly legal in England (its not illegal either) I had to find somewhere where I would be comfortable and wouldn’t be seen. Again, I resorted to the internet for inspiration and decided a beach camp would be the best option. Living in East Anglia there is not a large selection of mountains to choose from and deserted lakes, with amazing views, are few and far between. We do, however have Norfolk on our doorstep. A beach camp it would be.

Who can I go with?
 As this was the first camp and I wanted a bit of support, I suggested it to my family and friends:
“Who wants to come camp on a beach?” I asked
“Is there a playground, a shower room or pub?”
“Er, not quite”
“Is it legal”
“Er, not quite”
“No thanks!” was the general response

 C however, being 9 years old, was far more excited.

The plan was formed; we would set off on a Saturday morning have a day of adventure then camp on the beach before heading home on Sunday.

Canoe Tr on the Norfolk Broads


The big weekend
 I did some more research and found a company at Salhouse Broad who would hire canoes by the hour. We had done some canoeing before, so we were perfectly comfortable to go out alone. We spent the morning paddling up and down the river before heading to the pub for lunch.

We had the beach to ourselves


 The beach we had decided to camp on was a short drive away near Brancaster, it had been recommended by some friends I had met on a Facebook page Norfolk Microadventurers. This page is a localised group set up off the back of the Alastair Humphreys microadventure concept. There are groups all around the country (check them out!)

 We arrived at the beach at around 6pm and parked in the carpark, unfortunately the car could not be left here overnight so we would need a new spot. We checked out the beach, paddled in the sea and waited until dusk. The general rule for wild camping is arrive late and leave early and we didn’t want to upset anyone by pitching our tent in full view. Once we had found a flat area, we drove the car back to the local village, parked up and walked back to the beach.

Our pitch for the night


 By now most people had left and we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. This is an amazing feeling, being in such a beautiful spot as the sun is going down and knowing you do not have to leave. We pitched the tent as best we could (remember sand pegs next time!) and cooked up a pasta bolognaise. The feeling of paranoia had still not completely gone, and we were expecting a tap on the shoulder at any minute; “Sorry sonny, you can’t camp here!”. The fear was ill-founded and the only people we saw were a few dog walkers, who were very interested to know what we were doing...and a tad jealous.

 As we lay back on the sand eating chocolate the stars started to appear. This is the adventure I had been after and I wanted more.

Dartmoor - One of the few places where wild camping is allowed


 Since that trip in 2016 I/we have been out on at least 30-40 similar nights and I have made a new group of great friends through the Norfolk Microadventurers site. We have arranged trips to the Peak District, Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor and a long weekend in Scotland. We have camped on beaches, in woodlands, ruined castles and at the top of a viewing platform. I have purchased 3 new tents, a sleeping quilt (rated -10 degs), and a down filled sleeping mat. All were bought to extend the camping season from summer into autumn and now winter camping.

How to start
 There are so many Facebook sites now dedicated to wild camping and microadventures that information is easy to come by. You can spend months researching the best equipment (and I did), the perfect 4 season tent, the most comfortable (and expensive) sleeping mat or the perfect location. The research will no doubt give you lots of information and a large dent in your bank balance. You could, also, just look through the camping equipment you have, throw some clothes into a bag and head to the beach.

 At the end of the day it’s only camping!




Comments

  1. I love the idea of a microadventure! Living in the Pacific Northwest, there are so many beautiful locations just a short drive away. I'll have to put it on my bucket list! Thanks for the idea :)

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  2. Well, thank goodness you found the micro adventure as a way of spicing things up...instead of the whole have and affair option, lol! Smart choice!

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