An accidental micro adventure

Like many of you, I find myself with a little extra time on my hands these days due to the Corona Virus. In an effort to fight the inevitable boredom, I have turned to my reading pile (you know you have one too! No judgement here) and picked up Alistair Humphrey’s book ‘Micro Adventures’. Reading the introduction bought to mind an unplanned micro adventure I had a year or so ago.

To set the scene, as part of an online tree and plant identification course I am studying, I walk a regular route looking at various species to track their development throughout the year. It’s a real aid to learning and has helped my identification skills immensely.

I decided to expand my walk in search of new species to study. This took me to a new area of woodland that I had not previously visited where, as well as new species, I stumbled across some derelict buildings in a wooded area, including a couple of air raid shelters.

First view of the derelict buildings through the wood

I know that RAF Wratting Common is not far from me and searching on the internet, I found a 1944 reconnaissance photo that showed the air field and this wooded area. At the time, it appears to have housed a number of barrack blocks assigned to the W.A.A.F and I assume that the air raid shelters serviced these.

Turned out to be an air raid or blast shelter

RAF Wratting Common opened for business in 1943 as part of bomber command and became the home to the 90xc Squadron, who flew Short Stirlings, the 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit, who trained bomber crew and the 195 Squadron, who flew Lancasters.

Would you go in?

The airfield closed in 1946 and has subsequently been returned back to agricultural use.

More information can be found on the airfield at:

A small monument is erected near the site commemorating the 43 aircraft crews who didn’t return home.

Commemorative Monument

Sometimes it pays to get off the beaten track and alter your routine; you never know what you may find.

So what’s the relevance of this to you? Well I would like to encourage you to think small and plan your next micro adventure.

So what constitutes an adventure? Alistair Humphreys says:

“Adventure is a loose word that means different things to different people. It is a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. Adventure is about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity.”

He has the following tips:

  1. Think big. Allow your mind to wander and your imagination to get carried away.
  2. Think small. What’s the first tiny little step that you need to take in order to get going?
  3. Start small.
  4. But do start!

Journeys around the country or world may have to wait until the movement restrictions are lifted (please do follow government advice and guidelines and stay at home!) but there is no reason why you cannot plan adventures now for later in the year. Ordnance survey maps or google maps are both valuable resources to aid this. Research your local area or other chosen area for interesting features and canvas local Facebook groups for anything that may be worth a visit.

Also remember that if you have children, a micro adventure may not need to go any further that your back garden or that plant pot on your balcony.

  • Build a fort or den out of an old sheet and a couple of chairs if that’s all you have available
  • Go on a bug hunt
  • Find that persistent weed in a plant pot and see if you can identify it and any uses it may have.

Once you start looking at adventures in a microscopic way, a whole host of potential opportunities open up.

In a time of social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine, it seems strange to talking about planning a micro adventure but it’s nice to plan for the future and have something to look forward to.

Don’t be bored, be curious.

I have had my first Micro Adventure what will yours be?

Brian Leggat- Apprentice Instructor and Woodland Wayer Alumni

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