Long summer evenings were made for little adventures. It’s time to stop seeing the working week as something to get through, (‘Hump Day’: ICK) and learn to savour hours of balmy sunshine. Tick off some of my favourite outdoor escapes and I promise you you’ll see week days in a whole new light.
1. Kayak down a river
Beg, borrow or rent a few kayaks, sling them on your roof rack and head to the river. You see so much more when you’re level with the water, and slicing through the water watching out for kingfishers and butterflies as the sun sets through the reed beds will take all your work worries away.
2. Cycle to the sea
One of the best things about little old Britain is how close most of us are to the coast, and two wheels has got to be the nicest way to go on a jolly to the beach. Plan a route on green lanes and B-roads with Sustrans’ handy map. If you’re going a fair distance then Beds For Cyclists is a great resource of bike-friendly places to stay before an early morning ride back to work.
3. After-work surf
If you’re a drive away from a surfable beach, there’s nothing better than checking the wave forecast in your lunch break and then heading for the coast at the end of the working day. I like to head to the Gower, to surf in the Celtic sea and then camp at Three Cliffs Bay before heading back to the office the next morning. Heaven.
4. Sleep in a hammock
A camping hammock is a seriously fun way to kip under the stars. Plus, less bugs crawling on your face. There’s something very romantic about slinging up your bed between two handy trees.
5. Wild swimming
Find your nearest river or lake and take the plunge. If you’re not sure where is safe to paddle, www.wildswimming.co.uk has a list of tried-and-tested favourites. I love to cycle to the river after work and jump off a jetty, followed by a laze in the sun with a beer or two. Take a wetsuit if you want to swim properly, as wild water is still pretty chilly in early summer.
You don’t need to venture far to find edible delights – even a local park will have nettles for soup and elderflower for cordial on hand. Or head to the coast to find seaweed and other goodies – my new-found favourite is pepper dulse, which tastes like truffle oil, I kid you not.
7. Outdoor climbing
Got a head for heights? Give sport climbing a go. It’s a great way to combine adrenaline and a feeling of accomplishment with evenings spent in beautiful rocky places. If tall cliffs give you the willies, fear not, you can boulder your heart out instead – I love Dartmoor for beginner-friendly routes, and you can even wild camp on the moor afterwards.
8. Trail running
Lace up your trainers and go for a jog along the trails of your nearest wood. I like listening to all the little sounds of the forest in Ashton Court and finding secret paths amongst the trees. It’s a damn sight more exciting than a treadmill, that’s for sure. If you’ve got a smartphone I recommend deliberately getting lost and finding a new route back – a great way to explore local wild places.
9. Campfire feast
Cook up a bonfire feast for you and your mates – you could even do this in your garden if you don’t want to wander too far. Make my campfire favourites – sticky stew and bread-on-a-stick, and follow with all-American s’mores. Yum! Oh, and calories don’t count if you eat outdoors.
10. Watch the sun rise
Watching the warm yellow light of another day spill over the horizon is a dead cert for making you feel cheerful – it’s always associated with happy times with friends in my head, perhaps because I’m usually still awake at dawn at festivals. Take sleeping bags, some friendly faces and a thermos of coffee and listen to the world come alive around you.