Adventure Queens Big 5th Birthday Campout in partnership with komoot!
Adventure Queens is a UK based, not-for-profit women’s adventure community – set up with the aim of delicately smashing down the barriers that prevent women from having outdoor adventures. This year is their 5th birthday.
Photo from @apeakdistrictmum
To celebrate half a decade of adventure awesomeness the Adventure Queens partnered with the wonderful people at komoot to organise our first big camp out for 2 years.
Billed as a chance to leave little ones and four-legged friends at home, and have a night or two away just for us, my friend Emmie and I jumped at the opportunity for walks, campfire stories, skills sharing from experts and making amazing new adventure buddies with other Adventure Queens. They also promised us the chance to meet and chin-wag to our heart’s content, learn skills from from adventure experts at skills sessions, enjoy campfire stories in the evening with hot chocolate and marshmallows and CAKE. Lots of cake. It was the last bit that clinched it for us.
The other appeal of the camp-out was the fact that komoot was a partner. The route planning experts set up their marquee for some epic komoot workshops and a communal AQ hang out area – think deckchairs, beanbags, some lovely lighting, your favourite hot drink … especially useful if it dares to be a bit rainy! There was a special AQ komoot collection created for the campout to give us route information about the immediate area and some inspiration for our own walks, runs or rides.
They helped to make this campout possible in all kinds of ways so it was the perfect opportunity for us to brush up on our komoot-powered route planning and navigation skills.
First solo camping adventure
Unfortunately Emmie was unable to attend the event on the day so I decided to put on my big girl pants and went on my own to the campout. I didn’t know anyone, it was a 400-mile round drive on my own, I’d never camped alone before and I was scared. Over the weekend of 27th – 29th May 2022, I travelled to meet up at the lovely Newland Meadows Campsite.
After a horrible journey (5 hours including one wee stop and two lots of traffic), I rocked up eventually at 7.30pm. I'm not going to lie, when I saw several tents already up I wanted to cry. I wasn't sure how to get mine up, I was hungry and I wondered what I was doing there. But I took a deep breath, found a spot and started to unpack. A friendly tent neighbour offered some tent advice and then I went and joined people at the campfire. I didn't have the energy to cook but I happily had some rolls, crisps and a can of coke.
We had some campfire games during the evening with Clare and Nicola, which was a great opportunity to get to know some different people so I felt more at ease. It was a gorgeous evening and lovely sunset. That night I slept in my tent and felt pleased I had made the effort to go.
Unfortunately I didn't sleep at all the first night! I was pretty cold and not in the best mood when I woke up.
But I opened the tent and the sunshine streamed in. I suddenly felt much more optimistic and ready for the day. After getting dressed I had breakfast with some other people near my tent. I signed up for the day's activities from a choice of navigation skills with Sue, a led walk with Ellie, a komoot route planning session and walk with Grace or getting outdoor qualifications with Suzanne.
I really wanted to do the walk as I have struggled with walking due to sciatica but I am really trying to increase walking and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I was a bit nervous so I had a chat with Ellie beforehand. She said it would be very hilly for the first half but that if I wanted to do it she would get me through it.
Malvern Hills Hike
So we set off in the morning to our start-off point, a short drive from the campsite. The route took us into the Malvern Hills, up Sugarloaf Hill to Worcestershire Beacon. The first part was very steep but I got through it just having regular stops. Another Queen lent me her trekking poles, which were invaluable and really helped me.
We had spectacular views over Great Malvern and I felt such a sense of achievement afterwards. Very grateful to the other ladies for helping me and it was awesome doing it together.
We didn't get back to the campsite until 3pm so I decided to just chill in my tent for a bit after having had no sleep and a long walk. I cooked some bacon rolls and a much-needed cup of tea!
Once cooked I took my food over to eat and listen to the afternoon microadventure chat with Clare. I only caught the second half of the session but it was great to hear about her adventures and about others' ideas for microadventures. I spoke about my idea to plan a multi-day SUP adventure next year and I took the opportunity to chat to the inspirational Kate who has done such an adventure, which was really helpful.
I first joined the Adventure Queens Facebook group when I learned that the incredibly inspiring Anna McNuff was a co-founder of the women’s adventure community. I had the honour of meeting Anna at the National Outdoor Expo.
The main draw of the camp-out for me for the trip was the fact that Anna McNuff was going to be there! I was obsessed ever since being sent her cool adventure book Llama Drama to review from the Outside And Active shop – read my book review here.
In the afternoon she led a run with some of the Adventure Queens and I took the opportunity to get an ice cream selfie with her! I was really looking forward to listening to her campfire story.
Cake and Campfire
After some free time for dinner, we all met up around the campfire to enjoy firstly some cake! We celebrated the 5th birthday with an amazing cake, as well as cupcakes provided by komoot.
After this it was time to enjoy campfire stories with Anna (running Britain barefoot and other epic adventures), Nicola (bikepacking the Trans Cambrian Way), Kate (a multi-day SUP on the Severn) and Harriet (a canicross adventure across the Beacons way).
Sitting round the campfire listening to these inspiring adventurers was absolutely amazing. We toasted marshmallows, ate cake and just chatted. The second night I slept very well!
All in all I had an amazing time, made lots of new friends, walked a lot and enjoyed the sunshine with lots of memories and adventure ideas. Kate described it as "re-energising, inspiring, affirming and best of all lots of fun", and I would wholeheartedly agree. Can't wait for the next one!