My First Adventure

This week’s #adventureprompts piece is all about an adventure that didn’t go as according to plan… Which for me, is going to describe my first proper “adventure” as an adult. I thought I’d written about this before but cannot find it on these pages.

‘Tell us about an adventure which didn’t go to plan, but perhaps was all the richer for it.’

Admittedly, I did indeed write about this on my other blog and this was all the way back in July 2014, shortly after arriving back home.

Ten-years had passed since I went on a “lad’s holiday” to Spain with some friends. In the time after, I had gone to work, attended college (twice) and spent most of my spare time isolating within my home workshop. After a number of years, I felt an urge to do and see more with my life. I’d started walking almost two-years prior to this and had thoughts about exploring other parts of the UK; staying away for several days at a time and climbing hills several hours away from home.

Pitching my first tent for the first time (allbeit in my living room).

As of July 2014, I was twenty-nine years old and I’d never been camping (except for three-in-a-tent experience in a friend’s garden as a child). Yet there was great appeal in the idea… Being out in the open, with fresh air, my own space and it was much cheaper than a £50-a-night B&B! My friend Linda gave a lot of time and advice towards helping my find and purchase the essentials (tent, sleeping bag, roll mat).

We had plans to take this trip together. Two nights and three days. Camping, walking, metaphorical hand-holding (for me). If I didn’t like camping, at least I hadn’t spent a small fortune on gear and could probably sell my almost-new collection. Linda, unfortunately, came down with a horrible cold days before the trip, although she was still able to kindly lend me her Campingaz stove and freezer blocks.

Suddenly, I was terrified. I could’ve shut the door to the flat, sat on the kitchen floor and cried for the rest of that Saturday morning. I had everything planned… Where to go; how to get to the campsite. My pitch was booked, deposit paid. I didn’t want to do it alone. I forced myself in to the car and felt all sorts of emotion for that first hour. But, as I crossed the borders in to Dorset, the whole process became easier and I found each step falling kindly in to place.

At this campsite near Wool, the pitches were numbered so, it was easy for me to find my space. For the first time, I pitched my new tent on grass and without making a meal of it. Staking my claim to this plot!

I’m pretty sure I had pasta with a stir-in sauce for my first meal that evening. I might even have left the campsite briefly for a local walk. I don’t recall any major trouble sleeping or getting up the next day.

(I tell a lie as I had driven to Lulworth Castle at some point on that first day.)

My first full day in Dorset would be an introduction to the South West Coast Path. En route to Lulworth Cove, I stopped off at the local Spar shop to stock up on sandwiches and soon found myself having to pay £5 or £6 to park for the day (somehow, I had the right amount in change.

My hair was a mess and I don’t think I was wearing even a square inch of Gore-Tex in those days… But I felt a great sense of joy from the seventeen-mile experience and the scenery. I knew I would always return to Dorset in the future. I’d done it all by myself and could happily do it all again.

Another night in the tent would follow (it might’ve been instant noodles for dinner?) and I’d swiftly pack away in the morning; almost wishing as though I could’ve stayed another day. My first taste of camping was not too short and quite sweet.

On the way back, I stopped off at Corfe Castle and paid £8 for the privilege to explore (not being a full National Trust member at the time).

I then paid another £3.50 (I think?) to visit the Corfe Castle Model Village just down the road. This all kept me occupied until lunchtime, where I purchased a cup of tea from the National Trust’s visitor centre before the two-hour drive home. In the days before I had a SatNav and at a time where I was confident (and competent) of driving without an electronic aid.

Since then, I don’t know quite how many camping trips I’ve been on but I look forward to them every year. Spring, summer and autumn! This year has been quite the abnormality so far but I hope it’s not too long before we can all return to regularly doing these things we love. I had so much fear in the thought of going alone that first time… But I’ve grown a lot from it!

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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