It’s not often we get invited to a nighttime swim and campfire in Central London. It’s never happened before if we’re being honest. But for the guys over at Secret Adventures that’s exactly the kind of thing they get up to all the time. Wild full-moon swims, nighttime kayaking down the Thames, wilderness forest weekends; they’re even off to the Arctic for a dog sledding expedition. So yeah, being invited to spend an evening with them and a bunch of like-minded adventurer types was exactly what we needed to kick off 2016.
If you haven’t already heard of Secret Adventures then let us enlighten you. It was set up a couple of years ago by Madoc Threipland, an expedition leader, youth worker and all-round really interesting (and nice) guy. He’s a man who lives and breathes adventure, whether that be in some far-flung country or indeed just a short journey into the city.
And that’s the key to Secret Adventures. It’s a community built around the fundamental ideal that adventure is everywhere. You don’t need to be Edmund Hilary, you don’t need to give up your life and head off into some distant mountain range, You just have to be open to exploring the places around you. To finding those hidden worlds that take you out of your ordinary life and into something unexpected. Something that makes you sit back and say “That was amazing. I’ve never experienced that before.”
So on a very cold winter’s night we headed over to London Fields to meet our fellow urban adventurers. Our first stop was the lido. As the rain pelted down on the water, we jumped in for a quick swim. Chatting amongst ourselves and only slightly moaning about the cold. This was the first time we’d ever been to the Lido. Sure, we’d sat by it in the summer months, drinking cider and saying to each other “we need to go there.” Strange it took a cold winters night for us to finally step in.
But the swim was just the kick-off to get the juices flowing. The real reason we met up was an evening of food, drink and chat around the campfire. We picked up the necessary supplies and set up our home for the evening. Within a few minutes we were all sat huddled around the roaring flames, alone in the completely empty park. Lights from windows flicked on and off in the streets as we regaled each other with stories and plans for the year ahead.
First there was food, prepared by Simon and Susie from Unearthed. A selection of pate, chorizo, olives, omelettes; finishing with our own custom-made barbecued bananas (with a lot of peanut butter, if you were wondering). And then there was music. Supplied by the impressive Amy May Elllis. Our own private concert as the night drew on and the bottle of rum quickly became empty (for warmth, apparently).
As evenings go it was a damn good one. An experience that Londoners don’t often get to enjoy. Interesting, nice people who want more out of their lives than the humdrum day-today. People that look at the world slightly differently; people who will say yes to exploring thing they haven’t tried before.
Secret Adventures have a lot of things planned over the next year, from full moon swims in lakes and rivers across London and further afield, underwater photo shoots in Hampton Pool, a skinny dip in Richmond, night kayaking under Tower Bridge, a wilderness weekend a night walk out of London. So yeah, there’s quite a bit to get involved with.
For more information, and to become involved with the growing community of adventure-types. Head over to the website here. If their past expeditions are anything to go by, you’re in for quite a treat.
Picture credits: Ela Wlodarczyk, Leanne Downs