Adventure Uncovered Live
ICA, London | 30th October 2017
Falling in love with nature again.
Hope, positivity, inspiration.
In an era where the prognosis for the planet looks ever bleaker and fresh revelations about the damage we are inflicting on our natural world are a daily occurrence, such sentiments can seem in short supply.
Yet it was words such as these that defined the first Adventure Uncovered Live event in London last week. Billed as a night of “adventure storytelling that matters”, the evening was a timely reminder of humankind’s critical need to reconnect with the wonders of world around us and the power of adventure as a medium to make that happen.
The night’s keynote speaker, Andy Middleton, the founder director of adventure social enterprise TYF Group, summed up the mood for the event and its purpose: “This is not about some great peak that’s not been climbed before by the direct route on a Thursday afternoon. This isn’t about an ocean that hasn’t been kayaked with green paddles. Or about any kind of trivial pursuit that’s really irrelevant in the kind of world we’re living in today. I want to put to you that our greatest adventure is understanding how to find our place on this little precious planet of ours.”
That discovery could indeed be mankind’s biggest adventure yet, and reminders of just what a metaphorical mountain must be climbed to achieve it were never far from the debate: 12 million tonnes of plastic cast into the sea each year; half of the earth’s wildlife lost in less than two generations; alarming levels of de-oxygenation, acidification and heating in the world’s oceans… The litany of woes was long and gloomy.
But rather than dwell on the depressing facts, the speakers instead focused on the many examples of how adventure can offer a positive riposte to the notion that we are necessarily doomed.
For a start, there was the simple logic highlighted by campaigning filmmaker Ellie Mackay: that adventurers are in many ways on the front line of the global effort to turn the tide on planetary destruction. “We are where man meets nature,” she said. “We see it first hand. We’re visiting local communities. We can make change happen from the ground up.”
Not only that but as Mackay said the adventure community genuinely cares about the state of the planet. “We are the last people who want to see the world turned into a giant garbage dump, and we have a vested interest, which means this is not a publicity stunt; there is authenticity behind what we’re saying.
“So my call to action would be for the adventure community firstly to make sure we’re all incorporating sustainable methods within our own travel. But also to act as authentic role models for positive change by promoting this issue at every opportunity so that we can be a louder, more cohesive voice for responsible travel.”
Middleton described the possibilities offered by adventure as an act of love: “We could kill people with pessimism about what’s wrong, and it’s really important we understand the risks, but we must also recognise what we can do by taking people into wild places, to create that sense of wonder and awe, so that we re-fall in love with nature again so deeply that it changes the way people live.”
He challenged the audience and wider adventure community to embrace what he described as a form of ‘First Aid for nature’. “Let’s teach the equivalent of First Aid: not for accidents that have happened; let’s teach it for the future instead and work out how best to communicate the information around physical health and wellbeing, about the relationships between time in nature and our mental wellbeing. About the consumption of our resources – how do we de-materialise the outdoors? How do we make sure our surf beaches aren’t littered with cheap, crappy boards that break after 10 minutes? And how do we learn to reconnect the lives we lead with nature? We have an opportunity to create in effect a First Aid course for nature that gives people the keys to a thriving, different future.”
There were plenty of examples on offer of adventurers making a difference. Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), described how the group’s steady, determined campaigning over many years had helped drive huge improvements in the cleanliness of Britain’s beaches. The organisation is now turning its attention to the mounting plastic problem; don’t bet against SAS playing a pivotal role in helping combat this latest crisis.
Meanwhile, Oliver Steeds, founder and director of Oxford-based ocean research foundation Nekton reminded us how little we still we know about our planet and how exploration’s capacity to improve our understanding of the world can itself help drive change. Nekton operates a fleet of deep-sea submersibles and is about to embark on an ambitious programme to explore the Bathyal Zone, the 1,000-3,000m-deep tranche of ocean that is thought to harbour the greatest concentration of marine biodiversity yet is also its least explored.
“We now have technology available to us to discover more of our planet in next 10 years than we have in last 1,000,” Steeds said. “We have better maps of the Moon and Mars than we do of our own seabed. We are at this profound moment where we can drive a whole new era of exploration. That’s why I’m optimistic, because if we look back through history of exploration and what it’s achieved for us, it has driven our progression: journeys we’ve taken into the unknown have pushed back our frontiers of knowledge and enabled us to progress. We have this opportunity to explore this unknown frontier and transform our relationship to ourselves and our planet.”
The transformative power of adventure was highlighted in a very different but no less impressive way by passionate outdoor swimmers Alice Gartland, Becky Horsbrugh and Emma Watson. The three outlined some of the different ways in which swimming can be used to effect social change, whether through building self-esteem and confidence, bridging social and cultural divides or even as a tool in international diplomacy. Gartland, whose organisation A Lotus Rises works to empower women through the medium of swimming, evoked the spirit of open-water swimmer Lynne Cox, whose historic swim between the US and the Soviet Union across the Bering Strait in 1987 was credited with easing tensions between the two Cold War superpowers.
“I often think that if Kim [Jong-un], [Vladimir] Putin, [Donald] Trump, Xi [Jinping], [Theresa] May and all the others chilled out and went for a swim together the world would be a very different place,” Gartland joked. She raised some inevitable laughs, but the point was deadly serious.
In the closing presentations, adventurer and wilderness guide Ian Finch recounted tales from his recent expedition, an epic 2,000-mile descent of the Yukon River. Along the way, Finch went out of his way to visit and learn from indigenous North American Indian communities, whose lives are intimately and spiritually bound to the lands they inhabit.
Finch said what he discovered were millennia-old ways of life coming under increasing threat from the environmental destruction wrought by a warming climate and other anthropogenic activities such as mining.
Discussing these problems with Finch, one community elder imparted to him a piece of wisdom she said had been handed down to her through generations of ancestors, and which she urged him to pass on to others:
“Once you have respect you care, when you care you share, and once you share you teach.”
As a message for all adventurers to unite behind and take with them on their travels, this pretty much said it all.
KEY SESSION TAKEAWAYS:
- Shifting the Dial: Adventure, Crisis & Change Inspired by Nature, Andy Middleton: We need a ‘First Aid course for nature’ which gives people the keys to a thriving, different future.
- The Adventure Community Working Toward a World Free of Plastic Pollution: Refuse single-use plastics, including the four main culprits; plastic carrier bags, coffee cups, straws and water bottles.
- Taking Action: Sustainability and Empowerment in Everyday Life, Adam Hall: Next time you’re at the beach, be empowered and make a difference by participating in a 2 minute beach clean up.
- Social Impact and Change through Responsible Adventure: Build your self-esteem and confidence and bridge social and cultural divides through outdoor swimming; a simple, easy transformative outdoor activity – get involved!
- Adventurers for Conservation: Protecting our Pristine Environments through Creative Awareness and Action: Live the mantra of North American Indians in your daily life, and pass it on to friends and family: “Once you have respect you care, when you care you share, and once you share you teach.”
- Fulfil your pledge for the rest of the year (if you made one!).
ADVENTURE WITH A PURPOSE
Adventure Uncovered Live is a new event that will share inspirational stories and journeys that help us better understand critical social and environmental issues, which require our urgent attention and action.
The event will allow us to understand complex issues in a simple, fun and engaging way through the vehicle of adventure, inspiring you to consider or plan your own responsible adventure and motivate you to take realistic, underwhelming steps towards positive change.
EDUCATE | INSPIRE | MOTIVATE
Destination Wild Swim Featuring ‘The Wild Swimming Brothers’
Durdle Door, Dorset | 2-3 September 2017
— Outdoor Swimmer (@outdoor_swimmer) August 31, 2017
Little Brother Jack and Middle Brother Calum just on the way home after an absolutely cracking weekend of wild swimming, conservation and adventure with @adventureuncovered 🏊🏻 We took a group of 30 for some guided swims along the Jurassic Coast 🐢🌊 Yesterday we had blazing sunshine and swam through the mighty Durdle Door, a colossal sea arch carved by the timeless crashing of the waves 🏊🏻 We swam 1.2km along the coast line and held a talk on the beach 🏖 In the evening we wandered along the steep coastal paths to Lulworth Cove, its twinkling lights guiding us in the darkness, and sampled the local seafood and fabulous Durdle Door Ale 🦐🐟🦀🍺 This morning the weather took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened 🌧 That didn’t deter our hardy bunch and we went for an atmospheric swim in Man O War cove with 10ft swells lashing the rocks and strong currents 🌊 All in all an absolutely cracking weekend and we’ve left feeling very inspired by everyone, from beginners to channel swimmers, from 13 year olds to 50 year olds, everyone swam hard and immersed themselves in the natural beauty of our coasts, just awesome! 🌊🐙🐬🐟🏖🌅
— Luke Brennan (@lukeisabrennan) September 2, 2017
Photos: James Silson
— Patrick Murray (@PatrickMurrayie) September 3, 2017
Special Guest Appearances from:
- Introduction to Freediving (Taster Session) – NoTanx Apnea
- Conservation Expert and Park Ranger – Lulworth Estate
- English Channel Swimmer – Lisa Lloyd.
Supported and Endorsed by:
- Rye Hill Farm: local fresh and seasonal farm food supplier
- Lulworth Estate
- Durdle Door Holiday Park.
Adventure Uncovered’s inaugural event takes you to the dramatic World Heritage Jurassic Coast, one of the country’s most beautiful, unspoilt areas – Durdle Door – for invigorating, guided ocean swims by the Wild Swimming Brothers, promoters of wild swimming, conservation and reconnecting to the natural world. Join other like-minded adventurers as Britain’s coastal waters reach their warmest temperatures of the year, a one-off opportunity not to be missed!
This unforgettable wild swimming journey will take place at one of the most iconic coastal landmarks in the UK, Durdle Door, a colossal natural limestone arch on England’s majestic Jurassic Coast, formed by the crashing of waves and the relentless march of the ocean. The aim of the main swim is to swim from the beach out beyond the arch and then loop back round swimming directly through Durdle Door and back onto the beach, with other swims included.
One of the most scenic swims in the UK and a great intermediate destination swim:
Type: Sea Location – Jurassic Coast, England
Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
Distance(s): min 500m -> 1,500m throughout the weekend, covering max 4 swims.
Availability: Limited to 25 places only, first come first served
Book Now below to reserve your place and join us on an adventure with a purpose!
- Experience 3-4 wild swims through and around the crystal clear, tropical-esq waters of iconic arch Durdle Door (formed 140m years ago) and the remote, rugged Man of War Cove, exclusively guided by the Wild Swimming Brothers
- Get motivated by the Wild Swimming Brothers and inspired by their stories of wild swimming, adventure, conservation and reconnecting with nature, as they recount their journeys swimming across maelstroms in the Arctic Circle
- Discover Britain’s Jurassic Coast and learn about its heritage from those leading its conservation efforts via a guided cliff top walk
- Be reinvigorated and reconnected with nature; camping, swimming and enjoying this unique experience with like minded people
- Swim in the beautiful clear waters of Britain, when they’re at their warmest (18°C)
- Wake up to big skies and clear sea air!
What does the adventure include?
- 1-night cliff-top camping at Durdle Door Holiday Park
- 2 previously unheard talks from the Wild Swimming Brothers
- 1 talk from a local conservation ranger during a coastline trail walk with stunning views
- A night-time torch lit walk to Lulworth Cove, escorted by the Adventure Uncovered team
- 1 introductory freediving session
- 2 lunches, 1 breakfast and light refreshments throughout the weekend
- 1 pint of local cider (post-swim!).
*Note: Any of the above is optional, it’s up to you which activity you want to participate in, it could be just one or all, it’s your weekend so you choose!
The adventure excludes:
- Travel to/from Durdle Door (however assistance with carpooling and public transport through the AU Facebook page will be shared)
- Evening dinner and drinks
- Camping Equipment.
Day 1 – Saturday, 2nd September
10.30 – Meet, Greet & Weekend Brief (Intro + coffee/tea, light refreshments)
11.00 – Head to Swim #1 on beach via guided cliff top walk and conservation talk with local park ranger
A 1-hour talk and walk along the coastline discussing conservation, wildlife, coastal geology and how the area has been changing since the time of the dinosaurs. There will be a few fossils that you might be able to see embedded in the cliffs during the swims. The walk is approximately 1.5 miles, so nothing too taxing before we get into the water for the first swim.
12.00 – Arrive Beach location / AU Intro to WSB and WSB TALK #1 – Wild Swimming & Reconnecting with Nature
In this talk, the brothers will introduce wild swimming and explore why it is becoming the next big escape for people looking to break free from urban confinement. Through the story of their great matriarch Grandma Wild, they will share the inspiration behind their swims and their crossing of the Corryvreckan maelstrom in Scotland, famous for shipwrecking George Orwell whilst writing 1984. From there they’ll meander down their 9-day source to sea swim of their childhood river and share tips and advice on how a wild swimming adventure can bring you closer to the natural world and serve as a way to reconnect with nature and offer you unforgettable memories and journeys.
12.30 – SWIM #1 – First ‘standard’ group leave for destination swim through and around Durdle Door
12:45 – SWIM #1 – Second ‘advanced’ group leave through Durdle Door and around Rock Island
13.30-14.30 – Lunch (Produced locally)
14.30-16.00 – Set up tents, hot showers, downtime and relax
16.00-17.00 – WSB TALK #2 – Into the Maelstrom – Adventures in the Arctic
In this talk, the brothers will explore how they went from a 9-day jolly down the River Eden in England to swimming across the biggest maelstroms in the world and the longest distance ever swum in the Arctic Circle. In partnership with WWF, these swims aimed to raise awareness of oil drilling in the protected marine haven of the Lofoten Islands, home to over 600 Killer Whales, the largest cold water reef in the world and 75% of the world’s Atlantic Cod stock. They’ll share their reasons why these areas deserve our protection and why wild swimming offers the perfect method for preserving the wild left in the world. They’ll discuss practical tips and advice on how you can take the first steps to creating your own personal adventure, giving you the tools to plan your very own conversation journey into the wild.
18.30 – SWIM #2 – ‘Dusk Dip’
19.30-22.00 – Drinks & Dinner in West Lulworth via night walk with torches or Blue Crab, Durdle Door Holiday Park
22.00 – End of Day 1
Day 2 – Sunday, 3rd September
8.00-9.00 – Breakfast
9.30 – SWIM #3 – Man of War Swim – 2nd location
10.30 – Introduction to Freediving with NoTanx
12.30 – Take down tents
13.00-14.00 – Lunch
14.00 – Meet and depart for Beach Cleanup
14.30 – SWIM #4 – Final Fun Swim
15.30-16.00 – End of Day 2 / Depart Campsite.
*Note: Any of the above is optional, it’s up to you which activity you want to participate in, it could be just one or all, it’s your weekend so you choose!
Biography – Wild Swimming Brothers
Jack, Calum and Robbie Hudson grew up in the Lake District, where they loved nothing more than exploring the surrounding waters and rivers. Wild swimming was a great way of staying healthy as well as being a fathomless source of fun.
As they grew older and left school, wound-up at different universities and settled into life in their respective cities, it soon became apparent that they were growing increasingly more and more detached from the natural world, and each other too. Inspired by the death of their beloved Grandma Wild and a deep desire to reconnect with the natural world they decided to join together to create the Wild Swimming Brothers.
In 2015, the Wild Swimming Brothers swam together across the Corryvreckan maelstrom (the third most dangerous in the world), between the rugged Scottish islands of Jura and Scarba. Then they spent 9 days swimming the full 90-miles of the River Eden, which once flowed past the foot of their childhood home. Finally, just over a year later in 2016, they swam across the most powerful maelstrom in the world, the Saltstraumen, and the largest maelstrom in the world, the Moskstraumen, in Norway’s Arctic Circle. Except for the Corryvreckan, no one had ever attempted any of these swims before and whilst crossing the Moskstraumen the brothers also set the record for the longest swim within the Arctic Circle.
Join them on their wild swimming journey to reconnect with the natural world.
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Read about The ‘Wild Swimming Brothers’ exclusive Q&A ‘Protecting the world’s last pristine environments’ with Adventure Uncovered here