Greenham Common Again – September Microadventure

I’ve been having a busy month, starting with cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Vodafone Foundation (still need to write that up) so we hadn’t planned this month’s microadventure so well.

The location ended up being decided on the day as the local woods where we have permission to camp and have a fire. But when we arrived there was already a group then with children so we needed a plan B location. We couldn’t think of anything so headed to the pub for a pint and a new plan.

It was dark by now and we decided to head to a location we’d tried before on Greenham Common. We chose a different corpse of woods this time and set up and settled down for some beers and snacks. It was quite a cold night so after a few nightcaps we got into our Bivys and went to sleep.

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Nightcap
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Nibbles

 

“AAAARGGHHHHHHH!!!!” it’s the middle of the night and Tim thinks a cow’s about to walk over us! It’s only Nick getting up to go to toilet.

In the morning, we have a brew, some breakfast, make quite a few jokes about Cows  before packing up and heading home. I’m off to parkrun!

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Moo!

 

 

 

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Astro Microadventure – August

After last month’s big adventure K&A Bike packing i needed something a bit smaller and quicker to fit in with the summer holidays. So we chose a local site – Beacon Hill, over looking Highclere Castle for this month’s microadventure. We were joined by Nick again.

We had clear skies and I’d set the camera up for a time lapse of the stars and the International Space Station passing overhead.

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International Space Station passing over Beacon Hill

 

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Morning Visitors
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Testing out my new Bru kit from Alpkit
All packed up and on our way home
All packed up and on our way home

 

 

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Kennet and Avon Bikepacking – the video

I’ve made a video of the bikepacking adventure. Check it out here –

Kennet and Avon Bikepacking from mark chance on Vimeo.

July’s Microadventure biking along the Kennet and Avon Canal from the start in Bath to the finish on the River Thames in Reading.
Filmed using a Gopro mounted on my bike.

Music – Stunning Clarity by Signal Hill http://www.last.fm/music/Signal+Hill?ac=signal%20hill

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Kennet and Avon Bikepacking – July Microadventure

 

 

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Tim and I wanted to do a bigger challenge in the summer and rather than the 5 to 9, get some more time out enjoying the countryside. We’d soon come up with the idea to cycle from Westbury to Thatcham and camp over somewhere half way. A quick Google maps session later and I’d discovered the The Barge Inn , the “Most Famous Pub in the Universe”. Crop circle central and home to some interesting beers. As we got nearer to our adventure, Tim felt more comfortable on a bike so we decided to increase the route to cover all of the Kennet and Avon Canal – From Bath to Reading, 75 miles of towpath.

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Tim and I were joined by Nick, who had heard all about our adventures and wanted to give it a go. The first part was getting to Bath. British train transport has some crazy rules about the number of bikes allowed on their trains. We managed to book spaces on the first train (max 6 spaces) but couldn’t reserve any on the connecting train. This one turned out to only allow 2 (3 of us) and there was already a bike on it. Luckily we had a friendly train manager and he let us squeeze them all on and we made it to Bath together.

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The start of the canal is next to the station and we were soon on our way to our first stop at Bradford-on-Avon. The tow-path is in excellent condition and we felt great. The canal and railway line snake through the hills and the scenery is stunning. There are a couple of viaducts for the canal to cross over the river.

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After a relaxing pit-stop (Pint of beer) at Bradford-on-Avon we were off to our next stop at Devizes. Again the tow-path was in good condition and the ride was enjoyable. We had 1 challenge to get up Caen Hill Locks. The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles (72 m in 3.2 km). The locks come in three groups. The lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are spread over 1.2 km. The next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line up the hillside. A final six locks take the canal into Devizes (Caen Hill Locks Wiki). There is a good cafe at the top of the locks and we were in time for a cold drink and ice cream before they closed.

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The final leg of the day was to Honeystreet and the pub for dinner. This is where the tow-path became more and more overgrown and the path disappeared. It was becoming hard work and definitely “Mountain bike only” ride. We were ready for The Barge Inn and the end of the day’s ride.

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After dinner and a “few” pints we headed off to find our camping spot for the night and enjoy the sunset over the Wiltshire countryside.

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I woke in the middle of the night to clear skies and set my camera to capture a time-lapse.

 

Day 2 was the usual early start with a coffee and some porridge. We were going to get some more food at our first stop of Crofton Beam Engine cafe. The tow-path was tough – overgrown and in poor condition. It was a struggle. When we finally made it to the cafe it was closed. We had a quick break anyway and continued on to Kintbury. The tow-path only started to improve near Hungerford. At Kintbury we stopped at Tim’s mums for a fry up. Just what we all needed.

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After recharging on bacon sandwich and drinks and the improving tow-path we headed off at a quicker pace. We we got to Newbury the path was in great condition and the speed increased. Next stop the Rowbarge!

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Final section now! On to Reading. We were flying now, with a good tow-path and tailwinds we completed the last section and came into Reading and made it first to the Oracle shopping centre.

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then onto the end of the canal at the River Thames. It was a bit disappointing that they didn’t have a sign announcing the Kennet and Avon Canal. But we had made it and felt great.

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It’s got to be our best adventure so far. Plenty of planning and luck had made an enjoyable trip. Can’t wait for the next bike challenge….

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Sausages, Marshmellows and Coffee – June Microadventure

Last night was fun. No worries. Lovely wood and a fire. We had permission from the owners. What a difference a fire can make.

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We had hoped to be able to use the site all week and finally got the go ahead the day before. The weather and forecast weren’t the best, initially thunderstorm we’re predicated then just rain. In the end is stayed cloudy with some rain during the night and was very warm. Tim set up a Tarp to keep us dry and i set up my new Alpkit Hunka bivy bag underneath. It just about fits over my sleeping bag and meant that i couldn’t put the top over to hide from the early sunrise.

 

 

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Once the sleeping arrangements were sorted in was onto the fire and a beer.

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I’d popped to the local Butcher’s earlier in the day and picked up some of their fine home made sausages.

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The sausages couldn’t handle the heat and split but still tasted great with some bread. Dinner was followed up by some marshmallows and coffee.

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We discussed next month’s bike micro adventure and what to do the rest of the year. When the fire had died down and the beers had been drunk it was time for bed. I was toasty in my 2 season sleeping bag and Hunka bivy bag. It was a warm night. There was rain during the night but we stayed dry and it was a damp start in the morning. We had a coffee and packed up and headed home.

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Orchard Woods May Microadventure

Tim and I had a wedding to photography during the day and decided to stay over somewhere close to the wedding afterwards and enjoy a few beers. Some of the wedding guests were local and recommended a wood at the top of the hill. So once the wedding had finished we changed out of suits and into something for walking, pick up our rucksacks and headed up the hill. We found the suggested woods and setup camp.

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Greenham Common – April Microadventure

My kit has had an update of a new sleeping bag (see review) and ¾ roll

mat. This meant my bag was now lighter and easier to carry. We had been struggling with a location and ended up going quite local to Greenham common. Meeting with Alex, a friend of Tim’s we headed to a quiet corner of the common and found a suitable area to setup for the night.

I’d set my camera up and had short notice that the International Space Station (ISS) was about to pass over, so quickly lined up the camera.

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After the ISS i reset the camera to record a time lapse of the camp.

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I had a early start in the morning with a coffee before heading home to pick up the kids to run at Newbury parkrun on the same common.

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Wittenham clumps – March Microadventure

For March Tim and i planned to meet up with a group from

the Oxfordshire Microadventures Facebook Group.

They had recommended Wittenham Clumps near Didcot. After meeting up

at a local pub for a quick pint we headed up to the hill. It’s quite a steep

walk up the hill to the top but it was worth it for the view. Didcot and it’s

power station to one side and the river and Oxfordshire stretching around

us. At the top of the hill there was a “clump” of beech trees and we found a

clearing in the middle to set up camp. 3 of us were on the ground with bivy

bags, airmats while Dave from the Oxfordshire microadventure group set

up a hammock and tarp.

Once camp was set up we enjoyed some beers and cheese and relaxed and

chatted about pervious adventures and kit.

This time I had a massive rucksack (enter the details) and was able to fit

everything in it. The ground was soft and comfortable and although I woke

a few times during the night to see the stars above I had a good nights

sleep.

I woke early in the morning for the sunrise and then decided it was too

early and went back to sleep until later.

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When we all woke later, the camp was packed up and breakfast of coffee

and porridge (too much water turned it into porridge soup) before the

morning dog walkers came up the hill. We enjoyed the view for the last

time before heading down the hill and home.

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February’s Micro Adventure – Pheasant Woods

With January’s adventure completed it was time to start working on February’s. We decided on a woods near Walbury Hill, a favourite location of Tim’s.

The was a chance of rain so we took a Tarp with us. Walking towards the woods it became quite obvious that it was full of Pheasants. The trees were full of Pheasants nesting for the night. Was it still hunting season? Was there going to be a shoot the next day? What time do the beaters start in the morning?

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We set up camp anyway with a slight worry about the pheasants and shooting. The Tarp Tim had brought was massive and enough to cover a large group. Once we’d set up, we dinned on Cheese and wine!

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We woke early in the morning and decided to pack up and head to Combe Gibbet for a coffee before heading home.

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The start of a micro adventure

Before this year my idea of camping involved a tent, sleeping and air bed. I would fill up the car and set off for a camp-site for the week or weekend. We had everything we need to be dry and warm. The local chip shop or pub was included to provide food and drink we needed if we couldn’t be bothered with the BBQ.

This idea of camping changed this year when a friend introduced me to Micro Adventures and Alastair Humphreys. And it changed right at the beginning of the year in January! We didn’t normally brave the tent until the summer. The plan was to do an adventure each month starting in January. It’s cold in the UK in January.

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So we agreed a couple of location near to home and I pulled together what kit I had from camping, 2 sleeping bags, one of the kids roll mats (mine had gone to the bin last year), base layers and extra jumpers into a rucksack. I borrowed a bivy bag and we headed out.

The first location was let down by the very quiet pub. It was us and the landlord who was watching Rocky on the Television. We finished our drinks and headed to the second location (pub). That one was closed for a private party. Things weren’t looking good!

We braved on and after a visit to the local shop headed off to some woods over looking our home town and found a spot near some woods. I wore everything I had and both sleeping bags inside the bivy bag and was very warm all night despite it getting down to -6°C during the night.

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Breakfast was coffee and porridge before heading home for the normal “day”. It just shows what you can do with some determination and some basic kit.

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