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Planning a Microadventure with Alastair Humphreys

Published on: 21/03/23


“It’s funny, I’ve been reading all about adventures for 15 years, but it took me that long to learn that there are so many ways to live adventurously.” 

At Go Ape we're proud to create the best adventures where you can be home in time for tea. We've been doing it for over twenty years; been there, swung that, and got the t-shirt. But, this week we got to catch up with the chap who literally wrote the book on Microadventures. Alastair Humphries knows his stuff, believe us, so pop the kettle on and enjoy a chat that will surely inspire your next Microadventure. 


Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Who is Alastair Humphreys?


Alastair Humphreys is an English adventurer, author and motivational speaker. He’s written 13 books, he’s a podcaster and produces a monthly newsletter called Shouting from the Shed. He was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012 and he’s partially responsible for the rise of the idea of the Microadventure – short, local and accessible adventures.

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Alastair’s Adventures Great and Micro


Alastair has earned the title of an intrepid adventurer. He’s raced a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean, cycled around the world for 4 years and holds the record as one of the ten fastest Brits to complete the Marathon des Sables – despite breaking his foot during the race. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Back in 2011, Alastair’s adventure focus shifted though, and he became more interested in “Microadventures” and encouraging people to explore closer to home. He wants everyone to get out, get fit and add more adventure into their busy lives. 

His most recent personal challenge takes this idea to the extreme. Inspired by a quote from one of his favourite films, “in the end I think that a single mountain range is enough exploration for an entire lifetime” (Rickey Gates), climate change and the pandemic he decided to explore… a single Map.  

He set out to discover every single square (20km x 20km) of the OS Map he lived in, in search of a different type of adventure on his doorstep.  To make things even more interesting, Alastair does not live in the picturesque Lake District or Scottish Highlands, but rather a village outside London. In his own words, “in the glow of city sodium lights (and) amid the hum of motorway traffic.”  

This Single Map challenge forced him to really search for the difference in each square. It made him exercise his curiosity and find adventure in different ways: whether that was bivvying in a bush near the M4 or looking for wildlife in the most unexpected places.

P.S. his book “A Single Map,” will be coming out soon. 

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Adding adventure to the everyday


“The goal is to try and fit adventure into your daily life. It can be exciting to dream of international expeditions and extreme stunts but, for most people this isn’t realistic. Plus, it can be so much more enriching to simply find ways to fill your everyday life with adventure.  

Your adventure could be something as simple as cycling via a different route to work – and appreciating your surroundings. Or you could go for a run under the full moon. Or, squeeze in a wild dip before work. The most important thing is that it needs to be something that excites you enough to motivate you.” 

Benefits of being outdoors


“It’s great that the conversation is opening up about how adventuring can impact our mental health. The pandemic really highlighted how important it is to have time outdoors and you can see how these ideas are feeding into the mainstream, for example the introduction of Green Social Prescriptions*.” 

*Where services like the NHS provide links to nature-based interventions and activities instead of medication.”  

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Adventure is becoming more accessible


“It’s brilliant that ‘adventuring’ is becoming a more normal part of life. There are still the elite few at the top doing extreme stuff, but more and more people are being inspired to do the smaller things and stretch themselves from there. Almost anyone can say, “I’m off on an adventure this weekend,” and they won’t get looked at funny.  

It’s also great to see the enormous increase of women in adventure. Like, ultra-runner, Jasmine Paris, who won the 268-mile Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way in 2019. She smashed the record by 12 hours, whilst also including stops to express breast-milk for her baby along the way! There’s still a way to go, but there has been progress.” 

Social Media, friend or foe?


“There should be a balance of enjoying the moment during an adventure as well as capturing it. Social media has changed the world so much, I took 3,000 photos in 4 years on my cycling trip around the world and I can easily do that in a weekend now! That being said, it can be great fun trying to capture a snapshot moment - scrabbling around for the camera to get that one perfect shot. 

I like to create a barrier between the moment and sharing it, by not putting things on social media straight away.” 

Top Tips


  • Try not to force your kids into doing adventurous things. Instead lead by example: don’t sit inside, glued to a screen. Inspire them with your stories and invite them along on adventures. 
  • Sometimes the simplicity of adventure can be under-appreciated. Stepping outside and trying something new, can get you away from the complications of life. It’s not necessarily about escapism, and if you’re setting off on an adventure as an escape, you probably aren’t doing it for the right reasons. But, adventures can have a great levelling effect. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing Prada or Gucci clothes, that’s unlikely to make you feel better than the adventure itself. 

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

Photo credits: Alastair Humphreys

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