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Backyard Celebration - Edition 9

Welcome to our ninth Edition! 

Our confinement over the past year seems the opposite of adventure. But has our capacity to travel and discover simply changed, rather than vanished? This Edition follows this thought. 

Few in the adventure community pursue the possibilities of backyard adventure than Australian filmmaker Beau Miles. As if written in the stars, we sat down with the self-described oddball and polyjobist one day after the launch of his book: The Backyard Adventurer.

We have much to learn here from people adjacent to the adventure community. Forager John Rensten’s insights into the astonishing possibilities of urban foraging offer food for thought. 

Two interviews borne of the sea capture how venturing into our local patches can help meet life’s most fundamental needs. Author Hannah Green discusses her new book, My Journey Home, which explores the role of surfing in helping her overcome homelessness and PTSD. And journalist David Lyons interviews adventure photographer Mike Guest about Dawn Days, a project which has helped Mike process how Covid has impacted his self-identity.

One value of local adventure is accessibility. But as two commissioned pieces remind us, we can’t take this for granted. Nik Elvy - outdoor educator, campaigner around poverty proofing the outdoors and single mum of three - writes about the barriers to local adventure facing many on low incomes. Natalie Dunning, writing in the wake of a spinal injury that has drastically reduced her mobility,  possibly permanently, recounts with remarkable sensuality the solace she has found in the virtual landscapes of video game Red Dead Redemption 2. Is gaming really the antithesis of outdoor adventure?

Photo - Natalie Dunning

There is another sense in which backyard adventure extends beyond exploring our local areas. While travelling farther afield may seem detached from, even an escape from, our local environments, Emily Hopcian’s account of producing the film Durga: Forging a New Trail shows how adventuring beyond home can be a means of negotiating home as well as leaving it.  

At the heart of backyard adventure is seeing familiar places with new eyes - observing things we once missed. One possible effect of complacency in this regard is what Peter Cairns calls Ecological Blindness: an inability to see our landscapes for what they are. Peter proposes rewilding, and rewilding adventurers, as an antidote. 

Photo - Mike Guest

Cultivating an appreciation for backyard adventure, especially in light of its perverse boom during lockdown, requires strong institutions and projects to help. One striking example is London National Park City (LNPC), and in particular the network of Volunteer Rangers working to turn a heaving metropolis into a place of environmental richness and participation. We spoke with Ranger Ingrina Shieh about her work. 

The UK’s National Park landscape is also marked by ecological decline. Pedal 4 Parks is an ambitious cycle tour in search of regenerative solutions to this problem. We chatted with team member Alex Pierrot about the challenge and eco-adventuring more broadly. Also on the cycling front, we touched base with friends of Adventure Uncovered Temple Cycles about the Covid cycling boom from a business perspective. Plus we caught up with a good friend, activist and fan of ours, Jo Moseley, about her stand up paddle across the country in the north

To round out this Edition we interviewed three walking artists, as part of two separate conversations, about lockdown walking projects that show how artists and researchers can facilitate backyard adventure. First up we interviewed Claire Hind and Gary Winters about walking York in sidereal time, as part of their project Astronomical. And Clare Qualmann tells us about research she is involved with into the importance of creative walking through Covid and beyond.

As ever, thanks so much for reading. We hope that opening your back door feels a little different next time …

The Adventure Uncovered Team

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Our confinement over the past year seems directly opposed to the idea of adventure. But has our capacity for travel and discovery simply changed, rather than vanished? Our ninth Edition, published with summer and a post-Covid world on the horizon, follows this thought.

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Clare Qualmann

Clare Qualmann

Clare Qualmann (left) is an artist and researcher working across a wide range of media; from drawing and sculpture to text-works and live art events. Her work often takes the form of walks. Among other projects Clare was a founding member of the Walking Artists Network. She is the co-editor of Ways to Wander, a collection of 54 intriguing ideas for different ways to take a walk. Other projects include walkwalkwalk, Footwork, Perambulator, Spinning Stories and East End Jam.

Claire Hind

Claire Hind

Claire Hind is an Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance at York St John University where she runs the MA in the same subject. Claire has an international performance practice with artist Gary Winters - together they create dream walks, Super 8mm film, live and visual art influenced by cult cinema, dead icons and dark emotional ballads. Their latest project, Astronomical, created during lockdown, charts a route through the city of York across a year. Gary and Claire have recently published a book for artists and performance makers called Embodying the Dead, Writing, Playing Performing. Claire also collaborates with the walking artist Clare Qualmann as the co-editor of Ways to Wander, a collection of 52 intriguing ideas for different ways to take a walk and with Phil Smith and Helen Billinghurst on their latest book, Walking Bodies, Papers, Provocations, Actions.

Hannah Green

Hannah Green

Hannah Green is an author, speaker, freelance journalist and the Lived Experiences Specialist at the Centre for Homelessness Impact. Hannah is very passionate about using real life stories to create change and own experiences of homelessness drives this passion to change things for other young people. Hannah's first book 'My Journey Home' is out now.

Natalie Dunning

Natalie Dunning

Natalie is a writer and designer from Manchester. She covers the things that take up most of her brain space; health, food and internet culture. Her work is currently focused on alternative perspectives of chronic pain, pain management and “pain tech”.

Ingrina Shieh

Ingrina Shieh

Ingrina has a passion for making cities sustainable and people- and nature-friendly environments. She also has a personal interest in active travel and understanding the social impact of the built environment. Currently her day job is at ReLondon working on circular economy projects across the city. She loves being active outdoors, whether it's running from park to park, cycling, walking, or hiking.

Beau Miles

Beau Miles

Beau Miles is an award winning filmmaker, poly-jobist, speaker, writer, YouTuber, new dad, and self-described oddball who needs to shower more, Beau has been finding ways to satisfy his adventurous spirit both abroad and in his backyard.

Nik Elvy

Nik Elvy

Nik Elvy runs outdoor-learning company Curious School of the Wild, with a focus on accessibility for all. She is also completing a PhD researching socio-economic barriers to adventure.

David Lyons

David Lyons

David Lyons works in communications for Tomorrow's Cities, a global research programme into reducing disaster risk for underserved communities in growing cities. Three years living on the Hebridean island of Coll in his 20s cemented David's love of the outdoors, and he tries to balance his urban-focussed job with as many surfing, climbing and cycling adventures as possible.

Alex Pierrot

Alex Pierrot

Alex is a tech fiend currently working as a Linux Engineer for a City trading firm. He is a keen power-lifter, active in the London Financial Independence community, and still smug that France now have twice as many World Cup wins as England.

Emily Hopcian

Emily Hopcian

Emily Hopcian is a writer, editor and content producer with a passion for truly local, character-driven stories of social and environmental impact. She is the director and producer of DURGA: Forging a New Trail, which premiered at No Man’s Land Film Festival in March 2021 and is made possible with support from Arc’teryx, Teva and Osprey as well as more than 100 individual contributors. She is from Michigan and based in Bariloche, Argentina.

John Rensten

John Rensten

John Rensten founded Forage London and runs foraging events, walks and forays around London, The New Forest and Dorset, where he now lives. He is the author of The Edible City: A Year of Wild Food and co-founder of The Association of Foragers. He is also (in his words, not ours!) a frustrated middle-aged rock climber.

Sally Hosie

Sally Hosie

Sally is marketing manager at Temple Cycles, with experience in digital marketing (email and social media), PR, content writing and E-Commerce.

Peter Cairns

Peter Cairns

Peter has spent over two decades as a photographer, videographer, nature tourism operator and environmental communicator. He is a co-founder of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, having previously directed major conservation media initiatives such as Tooth & Claw, Wild Wonders of Europe and 2020VISION. A long-time advocate for rewilding, Peter is a serving board member of Trees for Life, and is a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Jo Moseley

Jo Moseley

Writer and filmmaker Jo Moseley is known as HappyHealthy50 on Instagram. She is 53 and lives on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. She has two sons aged 21 and 17 and is a practice manager for an engineering company, recently starting teaching deep water running, hydro jog and aqua fit.

Rosie Riley

Rosie Riley

Co-Founder/Director of Adventure Uncovered, writer and dedicated North Sea surfer who settles for cycling, running and outdoor swimming when in London. Advocate and promoter of sustainability and clean technology in the UK corporate sector and developing countries.

James Wight

James Wight

Co-Founder of Adventure Uncovered, James is an ex-Marketing Director, part-time photographer, volunteer, and writer, spending as much time as possible in the ocean or on mountains. He's obsessed with cabins, sustainability, and enjoys the intersectionality between human and environmental stories and challenging the status quo.

Sam Firman

Sam Firman

A freelance writer exploring the links between adventure, travel and social progress with a background in social innovation. Recently moved from London to Vancouver for access to the mountains.