Let me drive you from Bristol to a landscape of incredible waterfalls, ancient forests and wild rivers. We will feast on Lobster and prosecco cooked on hot coals. I will then guide you on a 5 mile walk through the Wild Welsh landscape. Half way we will stop for gin and cake, if you would like. One the return, I will point out the unique and intriguing flora of the woodland valley along with fold tales and medicinal aspects. There will be the option for wild swimming in a lagoon, with the largest fall cascading in the background. We will then journey home.
‘Into the wild’ has a singular aim: to improve participants well being by being in an inspiring outdoor environment, building communities, feeding the body and nurturing the soul. I want to create a movement which reconnects people with nature and the outdoors. I have lived in Bristol for 16 years. During that time I have spent every spare day travelling the local wild places to explore forests, beaches, mountains, waterfalls, rivers and gorges. I love all things outdoors whether it is walking, cycling, swimming, paddle boarding, scuba diving or canoeing. I am a qualified teacher having specialised in wood working for 16 years. I am level 3 Forest school trained and I have outdoor and paediatric first aid. I set up my business because I passionately believe in connecting with nature.
Let me drive you from Bristol, take you up a waterfall, across moors, up two peaks and around a lake. At the second peak I will cook fresh bacon butties washed down with G&T. This is a chance to challenge yourself to do something new, or maybe rekindle a love of the wild. We will go at a pace that suits everyone and all support each other. Come and escape for a day.
A tigress strode through the jungle and as she did, snakes slithered away. Bees and butterflies buzzed like glitter, spiralling into the sun. With her head bobbing, steam bellowing with rhythmic sway, she pushed her way through long, lush green leaves till she arrived at the water.
Stopping briefly, she bent down and lapped the cool, cold pool below. The tigress looked up as the sky changed slowly, yellow to orange, orange to blue, till tiny, blinking stars gazed back at her. In the distance, a waterfall poured it’s heart into the pool and all while huge blooms exhaled powerful fragrance which brought a tear to her eye.
The feline padded around the pool till she approached the waterfall, it’s song growing deafening as it grew closer. With grace and power she leapt, three times and then disappeared behind the waterfall. In the cave, she paced in a circle, measuring, waiting. At the back of the cave she looked at the fast flowing water as it fell like diamonds and it was as though time stood still.
The tigress leant back on her hind legs, as though in child’s pose, and then suddenly bolted forward bounding faster and faster until she reached the ledge of the cave. She sprung into the curtain of diamonds like breaking glass and fell down, down plunging into the cool deep below.
Noise became silence. And clarity became a blur of bubbles. The bubbles were replaced by flashes of gold and silver as the tiger swam slowly from the drumming noise behind. Great shoals of panicked fish burst like fireworks as she moved through them and gradually faded. Finally her head broke the surface, nose just clearing as she treaded water. She reached the soft sandy edge, which cracked like cake with her weight and she collapsed on the carpet of grass.
The tiger looked at the twinkling stars and heard the waterfall sing and breathed in the perfume of a thousand flowers and she wished that all the world could see such beauty. For life is not lived through a screen, not felt through paper. It is living and breathing and right before your eyes.
A micro adventure is a journey you go on which is less than two hours from home, allows you to explore somewhere new and bring you joy. These three things are the core of my new career and it is about reconnecting people to nature. The other two things I feel passionately about are fuelling your body with food that has soul and building communities.
This week I took my first group of women on the first “wild women escape”. The idea of these events is to get women to have some time out of their busy and normally stressful lives and reconnect with an inspiring and often unknown stunning location. This trip was all about waterfalls, wild swimming and walking. I prepared 3 lobsters from my local fish mongers, packed two bottles of prosecco and a range of tasty tapas foods for the arrival. I had my 6 first volunteers to try out my business idea and was nervous as hell.
The concept was quite simple. I plan, drive, lead a walk, cook food and take you home again. You can just relax, enjoy the experience, eat the food make some new friends and talk, walk and laugh. On the way home, I am not going to be offended if you sleep on the drive home, having exerted yourself from the five mile hike and the wilds swim to the waterfall.
I could not tell you why, but for some reason I was really anxious. The weather had been absolutely glorious in the few weeks leading up to the trip. Then, a few days before, lightening storms were forecast. I was wracked with a crisis of confidence. “No one will come.” my internal monologue was telling me. “This whole thing was a ridiculous idea. You live in the UK, you idiot, where it rains for 80% of the year. You can’t run a business which is so seasonal. It’s not going to work.” I actuality, all of the participants came! I was so eternally grateful. “You have to be braver.” I told myself after.
I lit the BBQ and smeared the halved lobsters with garlic butter. The ladies enjoyed the prosecco and olives and bread and snacks which the lobster cooked. When I brought it over to the table, it looked like a sight to behold. We feasted and chatted. One of the ladies had just got engaged, one had just announced being pregnant and the next day was my birthday. We had so much positivity to share and so much to celebrate. We were uninterrupted by impetuous children, undistracted by the pull of house chores and unencumbered by workplace to do lists.
For two and a half miles, we walked along the Eidir trail to a glorious pub bathed in dappled sunshine. The path required you to watch your feet and was moderately challenging which warmed us up and required our focus and attention. All around us was ancient woodland filled with Oak and Hazel and Beech and the river flowed by sometimes in torrents which took your breath away and sometimes in calm, rippling pools.
There are about 6 waterfalls on this walk (depending on you definition), four of which are named on the map. Each one sings a different song, each has a different character. At one point, a lady pulled some medowsweet from the bank and a fern and decorated my hair for no reason. At many points, women talked about how they would love to come back and share this lovely place with their family. Your walking partner changed along the route and we all got to make new friends.
The last waterfall is probably the most spectacular, and has a deep lagoon below. This was the place I chose for our wild swim. We had seen very few people along the paths and we were alone for a quick change into swim gear. The water was icy! But it has been well documented in recent years as to the mental health and physical benefits of cold water swimming. The usual human reaction is the yelp, scream and laugh. Two of us decided to just go for it and I am sure our laughter could be heard for miles. I have a lasting image of one lady in my mind who waded round to the far side of the waterfall with a new found friend and she stood fully under the full force of the river cascading down. The look on her face was pure unadulterated joy! I knew that she had been having a difficult time of late, and just to see her let it all go and do something magical, was a pleasure like no other. I had achieved my aim.
And so to new beginnings. Be they scary, daring, challenging and emotional. Let’s take them on together.