How to Have a Local Adventure

Emily Woodhouse Big Adventures, Living Adventurously, Practical Advice

Adventures, as we are learning now more than ever, do not have to take place halfway across the world. Sure, those adventures are exciting in their own right, but you do not need to travel that far to find adventure. In fact, some people would claim that adventure is just a mindset anyway.

Still, this post is not going to be about philosophical musings (I’ve been reading a book which had just disproved that a table necessarily exists just because you can see it, touch it etc – so I’ve had quite enough of that!). Here is some practical advice about how to open up your mind to local adventure ideas, then do them.

Local and “Proper” are Unrelated

“You can’t have a proper adventure where I live.” Oh adventure snob, what will we do with you? There seem to be endless people who think that local and a “proper” adventure are simply incompatable for them. You love mountaineering but you don’t live in the Alps. You love sea kayaking but you don’t live by the sea. Well, you’ve got two options:

  1. Move to a place you can do “proper” adventure from your doorstep
  2. Focus on the things you can do where you are

There is a guy at my work (hi if you’re reading!!) who lives in the mountains. He posts pictures of him skiing before work or mountain biking through alpine views to the setting sun. Wow. All the places you travel to for adventures have local communities, people who actually live there. You could be there too.

Of course, most people won’t. Which is a good thing, actually. But you could do it – and here’s the thing – if your priorities match up. Is is more important to you to be close to your family than charging about in the mountains after work? Or near a job you love? Or in a place you love for non-adventurous reasons? Good. Don’t feel guilt tripped into doing anything otherwise.

In that case, to get a local adventure fix, you should look at what you’ve got available locally. Make connections between what you enjoy and what you can find. For example, if you like mountains is there a hill? Paddling: is there a river or lake or canal? Cycling: is there a road or off-road trail? You get the idea. Take one or many elements of what you enjoy and start looking for them close to home.

They don’t have to be physical elements of the adventure either. A few years ago, I went on a beach trip with some friends in November. (I wrote this post about it: We Need Local Adventures) We were something like an hour’s drive from home. Surfing and the coast doesn’t rank too high on my adventure-o-meter. But getting soaked, cold and exhausted with a bunch of friends? Hell yes.

Local doesn’t mean Small

There seems to be an assumption that local adventures are small. Things you do in the 5-9 slot or on weekends. And sure, they can be. But (quick maths lesson) just because Small Adventures belong in the set of Local Adventures doesn’t mean Local Adventures are all Small Adventures.

What do big local adventures look like? Well how about Laura Moss running all the London Underground tube lines end to end. Not something that you can knock off in a weekend. Or Jo Moseley paddleboarding the entire length of the canal that runs near her house. Or me walking all the tors on Dartmoor even though I’ve lived here most of my life. In fact it’s because I live here that I did it. It meant so much more than so many of the other adventures I’ve done elsewhere.

How do you do this? Start digging into your past and present. Find a seed of an idea and then extend it. For example:

  • I wonder what it looks like above this tube I’m always on… maybe I could run the length of it!
  • I wonder where this local canal goes… maybe I could paddle it and find out!
  • I wonder if it’s possible to visit all the tors in one go…
  • I wonder where this river starts… maybe I could walk/ride/paddle all of it!
  • I wonder if I can circumnavigate [insert city, place, county…]

It all starts with an active sense of curiosity. Look at what you have around you – even things that have nothing to do with adventure – and start wondering. Then add adventure back into the mix and you’re good to go!


For the duration of lockdown, I’m putting out weekly creative prompts. You can join in too here. I send them out on a Monday morning and you have a week to respond in whichever medium you like. Search #adventureprompts for other people’s work.

This week’s prompt was:

“Local Adventures.”