Exciting, unusual and possibly dangerous…

If you were to describe adventure in three words, what would they be? According to the Cambridge dictionary the word ‘adventure’ is a noun that describes “an unusual, exciting and possibly dangerous activity”. Reading this for the first time and staying within the context of outdoor pursuits I was struck with two questions. Does the possibility of danger need to be included for it to be recognised as an adventure? Is it so unusual to want to venture outside and explore your surroundings?

How do we measure adventure?

To some, an adventure might be base jumping off the Burj Khalifa, or bikepacking continents; maybe it’s a sunrise dip or a 5km trail run, followed by a pint in the local pub. In my opinion, it’s person specific and malleable. Adventure is what you want it to be. Somedays, I want to cover considerable distances that push my limits, leaving me gasping for breath and craving more miles. Other days I want to lay on the forest floor, watching my chest rise and fall whilst tuning into the community of creepy crawlies beneath me. 

An adventure is typically viewed as a journey from A to B but, that’s just taking the distance into consideration. Additionally, there’s a combination of feelings and emotions to accompany the physical journey. Whilst I’m adventuring, my bustling thoughts and endless chores are replaced with calm, clear thoughts allowing me to relish in my undeniable connection with nature.

With each adventure I grow physically, emotionally and spiritually stronger, regardless of the distance or speed. So, why would I want to rush this experience?

Slowing down

Life can feel chaotic at times and like many others I have a hardwired tendency to rush through it. In the past I’ve completed things so hastily that it’s gone in a flash and the meaning has been lost. 

MSR Hubba Hubba Bikepacking Tent

Practising mindfulness and breathing techniques has helped me understand my neurodivergent needs further. Tapping into my parasympathetic nervous system assists me to slow down and savour those fleeting moments of inner peace. I cherish that period of stillness at the summit when I’m forced to take a deep breath. It’s those moments where I’m able to appreciate the small things around me, the symbiotic relationships that will continue to flourish with or without me. I’m grateful I can do this regularly.

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” I recognise that this is overused but I think it’s appropriate. I desperately try to pause wherever I can, I don’t want to rush up a mountain, take a selfie and then rush back down it again. To me, the summit or the finish line is an additional bonus. I want to explore every crevice, learn about the species I encounter and chat to the wildlife that crosses my path.

Connection to the landscape

Exploring new places fills me with curiosity and compassion for the environment around me. I don’t take my Scottish heritage for granted. There have been moments amongst the mountains where I’ve weeped with pride. I’m in love with my country's rugged beauty and respect the reciprocal relationship between myself and my environment. Legally, being able to wild camp wherever I drop brings me closer to the terrain I’m traversing, in ways I didn't know I needed.

I try to take the time to appreciate my surroundings and what it provides. Despite doing most of my adventures as a solo woman, there’s never been a wild camp I've felt alone. I feel nurtured by nature, safe in my surroundings and inspired to continue adventuring by bike to those remote places I once thought were impossible for me to access.


In its simplest form bikepacking is a combination of cycling and camping. Personally, I think it’s the best of both worlds. The further I cycle, the wilder the camp spot.  

I fell in love with bikepacking around 8 years ago. My first trip was to the Isle of Arran, I carried an 80L rucksack, I had an entry level hardtail and a hammock that was brand new and hadn’t been out of the bag. Despite the rookie errors, I remained elated. 

I remember selecting Eas Mor as my camp spot, it wasn’t far from the ferry terminal, it looked spectacular and there would be plenty of trees for my hammock. I secured my hammock with the ‘if you don’t know knots, tie lots’ method. I was hanging low to the ground and resembled a banana for most of the night but I lay there beaming as I watched the bats circle above me. I made dinner with my excessively large Trangia, read a book for a while and then drifted off to sleep as the waterfall gently crashed nearby. I did it. My first solo camp. I had never felt more content and I was completely hooked. I learned many lessons during that short trip. I learned what not to take, to invest in some bikepacking bags but the biggest lesson for me was to devour every moment I can outdoors. I really enjoy this version of exploring, it feels meaningful to me.

Plodding with purpose

It might sound odd for me to harp on about slowing down as I enter my name into the ballot for more ultra races but it was actually during an ultra race (HT550) that my love for deliberately slower and mindful movement was consolidated. 

During the race, I thankfully had the foresight to see that I was having a terrible time and probably wouldn't be able to shake it off. This wasn’t purely due to the mistakes I made or the negative chatter encompassing my head but because I could recognise that I wasn’t being present. I realised that in the midst of all this negativity, I wasn’t taking the time to appreciate the views or the fun terrain that I was lucky enough to encounter. I was stuck in my own head. 

I soon realised that if I wasn't able to change my mindset and appreciate where I was then I might as well be back on the couch. I’ve been on enough bike rides and adventures to know when to stop.

As an outdoor instructor, I’m no stranger to adverse weather conditions, things not working out or type 2 fun. I’m accustomed to difficult days but I ALWAYS appreciate the small things. So, I scratched from the race. I'm not interested in being outdoors and pummelling the ground mindlessly. That’s not me, that’s not what I consider to be an adventure. What a valuable lesson.

Being present, mindful and taking the time to savour where I am is the priority for me. I like to plod with purpose, I don’t want to whizz past that rare flower I’ve only seen in books, or miss the rabbit scurrying back down the hole. I enjoy taking 239 photos of the same mushroom and trying to capture landscapes on my phone that just don’t do it any justice. I accept there will be days where I want to move faster and I embrace the slow days equally. As long as I’m outside, exploring new routes and planning more adventures I’m content. If this is deemed as unusual then sign me up.

MSR Hubba Hubba Bikepacking Tent Handle Bars Bag


July 02, 2024 — Leanne Wrightson