Fancy a Wild Weekend?
In her new book – Wilderness Weekends – Phoebe Smith offers 26 ready-planned UK adventures for those of us tight on time, here she explains why we can all enjoy the wild places without being superhuman …
Catching sight of my sunburnt face in the rear-view mirror of my car after my first solo wild camp in Wales, I knew something had changed. Covered in midge bites, my hair plastered to my forehead with sweat, I had never looked less glamorous.
And yet, at the same time, I don't think I'd ever looked so good. I had just returned from a two-day expedition into the mountains, by myself, with nobody to rely upon, and had survived. The feeling of liberation – of knowing that this was something I could do – was almost indescribable. That I could go out into a wild place and return relatively unscathed made me feel the most confident I had ever felt.
I knew then and there that the itch I now had to scratch went much deeper than the sunburn. Something in me had awoken: a desire to explore more of Britain's remote landscapes. I had become an instant addict.
Ever since that day, more years ago than I care to admit, I've made it my mission to seek out wildness in my home country. Before then I had spent the best part of two-and-a-half years travelling around the world, convinced that Adventure, with a capital 'A', lurked only in far-off lands – from the Red Centre of Australia and the high Arctic plains of Lapland to the mountainous spine of the Alps, deep in the USA's largest national parks and the starry desert skies of Jordan.
But since then I have proved to myself – and now aim to prove to you – that you needn't travel far to have an adventure. Britain offers a wealth of opportunity to not only gaze upon some of the best scenery you'll find anywhere, but also to sleep in its wild embrace on your own mini-expedition.
In short, after a childhood spent not appreciating what lay waiting in my own backyard, I now revel in the adventures I can find in precisely that place. And I would like others to realise exactly the same.
You see, I'm not your typical adventurer: I don't try to be a superhuman Bear Grylls-style survivalist; I haven't sailed around the world; I have no desire to cross a continent on foot or by bike; and I cannot grow the obligatory expeditioner's beard.
If I do have an extraordinary quality, it is that of being simply an ordinary person – in search of excitement and adventure – just like you – but without wanting all the expense and corporate sponsorship, or having to survive by feasting on a decaying sheep's carcass. I don't believing in conquering the elements or in fighting the epic battle between man and nature. My motto has always been 'enjoy, not endure'. I want to show that everyone – you included – can go into the wildest places and survive.
After the 2013 publication of my book Extreme Sleeps, describing my journey from mattress lover to wild sleeper, I received hundreds of emails and Tweets asking for advice on exactly where to 'find Britain's wild spaces', how to pack and prepare for these adventures, and how safe I thought it was to attempt them.
Now in both my new book and in my talk on May 5th at Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden, I will share with you the locations of some of Britain's best places for a wild night out and give you the tips to ensure that you survive your first weekend expedition.
So do join me for a night of wild talking, wild adventures and definitely some wild nights out…
Phoebe will be talking at Ellis Brigham, Covent Garden on Tuesday May 5th at 8pm. Tickets available below: