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The first microadventure

Do you want to go on an adventure?
16th November 2014
Rewilding with George Monbiot
26th November 2014

After two years and seventeen days of living in Berlin and constantly telling myself to get my act together and explore the beautiful countryside surrounding Berlin, I finally did. In fact I think it is safe to say that I not only did it, but I did it in style…


Now don’t get me wrong; that’s not to say I haven’t been on any adventures in the last two years, or that I haven’t adventured a little in Berlin (if you can call that adventuring) – I wouldn’t have coped if that was the case! We get this notion that in order to have an adventure or break away from the world a bit we have to travel to some far unknown place. I was pulled into the trap as well. Since I moved out here two years ago I have done Wales, Scotland, the Pennines, Ireland, Baden-Baden, Salzburg, Madrid, New York, Turin… I think the closest I got to Berlin was the Harz Mountains! But this is of course absolutely absurd. Adventure is much closer to home than we think, and certainly much easier to do than we make out.

I was reminded of this fact and spurred into action while I was leafing through Alastair Humphrey’s website, after my friend Jono pointed me in his direction. He has taken this concept and called it “microadventuring”.

The concept is simple, circle in red pen the free evenings in your diary, and in those free evenings set of after work  to somewhere you’ve never been before and sleep overnight there, be it in a bivvy bag or in a tent.

It just so happened that my first free evening was that very evening… so I quickly googled some lakes near Berlin in the afternoon, chose the first one – Liepnitzsee, texted a friend and after I finished work, dug out some gear and off I went.

As I left the house it dawned on me that I may not have chosen the best night for my first microadventure. A soft drizzle fell on me as I cycled to the S-Bahn station and, being November, it was already getting pretty chilly. Still, this wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits, and off we went into the darkness.

Into the darkness - The first microadventure.

I was surprised about how little resistance it took to convince my friend, Steffi, to come with me. Not having had much camping experience I thought it would be the last thing she would want to do. The one doubt she did raise however, was whether we would be okay setting up the tent in the dark. To be honest, this was the last thing that I was worried about, despite the fact that I had never used this tent before. One reason for this was that I was more worried about finding the lake in the dark, and more to the point, finding a place where we would be able to sleep. And secondly, because I wasn’t planning on using the tent at all! (But she wasn’t aware of that yet.)

Her reaction made me think, however. It seems to back up the point that all of us, no matter our background or upbringing, all of us have this urge deep within us for adventure, wildness, the unknown. True, a lot of us suppress it very well, to the point that we do not even realise it is there. But as soon as it is given a chance it springs back in full swing. This, I am guessing, is what made the decision so easy for her.


It turned out to be surprisingly easy to find the lake in the end, and found a perfect spot to sleep right on its edge. Still warm from the long cycle there, Steffi was up for the bivvy idea and we settled down with some rum and gazed out over the still lake and up at the twinkling stars above. It was, quite simply, magical. My mind was suddenly free; open; infinite.

Finally, when I couldn’t hold them open any more, I gave in and shut my eyes, drifting off into a deep sleep. It was upon awakening for a toilet trip that I realised just how cold it had become. It must’ve hit the zero mark at the least! Even with the thousands of layers that I had on, I have to say getting back to sleep was hard work.

I must’ve managed, as the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake to look at the sunrise. I fought my way out of the sleeping bag, then bivvy as fast as I could and could not believe my eyes. The first rays where just peeking over the trees at the far side of the lake, emitting a reddish glow, and gently lighting up the clear, mist covered lake.

It was breathtaking.


Morning sun, Liepnitzsee - The first microadventure


Only now could we see for the first time the spot we had found in the dark the night before. We watched in silence for a good fifteen minutes, before snapping around at the sound of twigs breaking behind us. An old couple were walking by. They were extremely impressed by us for spending the night out here, and informed us it was two degrees when they left the car!

We had barely finished swopping coldness stories between us about the night, before we turned again to see a lady running towards the lake, swiftly joined by a man on his bike. They stopped by the lake side, stripped, and dived in, swimming off into the distance.

This, whilst impressing us, made us even colder, so we set about eating some breakfast and jumping around to warm up.

Feeling revived we set off back through the woods, cycling into the glorious morning sunshine, and feeling on top of the world.


The journey home, Liepnitzsee - The first microadventure


Even though that day I felt a little shattered, I had a strange buzzing of energy that stayed with me. The microadventure had cleared and revitalised my mind and I was once again able to see situations in a different light. With a more distant perspective. Like stepping back to see the whole picture, but never losing a single detail.


Stepping back, Liepnitzsee - The first microadventure


So what are you waiting for?! Go!
Set some dates, sort out some equipment, and set off into the unknown, be it just for the night. I am already planning the next microadventures, and some bigger adventures that I plan to get in before the New Year, which I am sure I will post more info about. If you want to come with, then give a shout at the bottom. Or if you do end up going on one of your own, then I would love to hear all about it! Drop me an email at .

Start your adventure… right where you are.


Thanks to:

  • Jono, for introducing me to Alastair Humphrey’s.
  • Steffi, für die Begleitung!


Douglas Ward
Douglas Ward
Douglas Ward is a freelance sound engineer and web developer currently based in Berlin. Having climbed his first mountain at an age of just 6 months, he has a huge passion for anything involving the outdoors and adventure. Doug is keen runner, cyclist, climber and kayaker. He is conscious of how important the wild is, especially in childhood, and interested in the role of free play in development.

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