Over the weekend of 2nd -4th June 2023 was the annual Adventure Queens campout in the scenic setting of Lancashire. A wonderful weekend of sunshine, friendship and adventure.
The AQ campouts include walks, campfire stories, skills sharing and making amazing new adventure buddies! Tickets covered the campout costs, booking fees along with campsite necessities, firewood and campfire goodies. Having been to my first one last year, I was really excited to go along to this one. I drove up with my friend Steff from Suffolk, as well as AQ Essex Chief Queen Laura.
The main event ran from the morning of Saturday 3rd June but AQs were welcome to attend for some informal fun and camping from 5pm on Friday 2nd June. We left Suffolk on Friday morning and it took quite a while to get up the campsite in the north of the country. With a couple of stops on the way, we arrived about 4.30pm at the lovely Shay Gate Farm Campsite near Colne. A soon as we arrived in the general area we were all exclaiming at the gorgeous countryside and rolling hills. Flat Suffolk is very different to the big hills or Lancashire and Yorkshire!
We set to getting our tents set up, stretching our legs and saying hello the other Queens who were then arriving.
The weekend was sponsored by komoot - the Adventure Queens' generous partner and route planning experts. Their marquee was set up at the bottom of the expansive campsite for some epic komoot workshops and a communal AQ hang out area. The deckchairs and beanbags were made use of and the cover was handy. Luckily we were blessed with amazing sunshine for the weekend so didn't need it in case of any rain but it was handy for a bit of shade.
On the first night there was arrivals, registration and free time. Followed by campfire fun and games which had us running all over the place and getting to know and chin-wag to our heart’s content with other Adventure Queens.
On the Saturday the morning started with Pilates at 8am for anyone who wanted to join in. Followed by a welcome at 9.15am and introduction to the day. There were opportunities to learn skills from from adventure experts at skills sessions. Queens could choose to do various adventurous activities, including an off road run, a guided hike of Pendle Hill, a getting started with adventure workshop, komoot route planning workshop, komoot community workshop and tarp workshop.
I opted for the morning komoot session by the lovely Grace, komoot Community Hiking Manager. There was a special AQ collection created for the campout to give us route information about the immediate area and some inspiration for our own walks, runs or rides. It was really handy to learn the different features of the app as, straight after the walk I went on the komoot Pendle Hill Guided Hike, where I used the app to navigate.
After the session we carpooled and headed off to Barley to begin our hike and explore the surrounding area. We walked 6.2 miles, with an elevation of 1,25 feet. It was very hilly and hot but pretty awesome. We walked up Pendle Hill, where the most notorious witch trial of the 17th century was held. Many people were accused of witchcraft and hanged. Fascinating and sad walking in the shadow of the legend of the Pendle witches. Near the hill is a statue of a witch in chains and there are witches on broomsticks on the signs.
Getting to the summit was worth the hot walk. Our guide, @summit_seekers did a fab job guiding the hike and even told us the story of the witch trials. A cider and jumping in the stream to cool my hot feet after was bliss!
We got back to the campsite quite late in the afternoon, after everyone else had finished their workshops and activities. We had a leisurely evening dinner by our tents and then it was time to gather around the fire again.
At 7.30pm onwards was campfire stories and then a bivvy experience later on in the evening. Campfire stories is an opportunity to hear tales of adventure from fellow Adventure Queens, fuelled by marshmallows over the fire.
The first speaker was Carla from Summit Seekers who led the hike up Pendle Hill. She spoke eloquently about feeling like you have to make a choice between parenting and adventuring. Carla spoke about being a female working in the outdoors industry, and how she went to the himalayas and did an incredible five treks with her children. The youngest being six years old at the time. She said, "We spent days just talking. How often do you get to do that with your kids? We had no phones but the kids loved it, they were amazing. They learnt different languages."
There were times when Carla wondered if she was doing this for her or for them. Especially when at one point there was monsoon rain for four days on one of the treks. At that point she and the kids decided to turn around. Said Carla, "Trust yourself. Know what you and your kids can cope with. Now they have memories they can look back on. Being a mum, working in the outdoors, travelling a lot. Sacrifices do have to be made - for me it's sleep! But it's so worth it."
After Carla, former Grant winner Emily (@salopianoutdoors) gave a talk. As her first solo hiking adventure Emily hiked the Tour Du Mont Blanc, circumnavigating the famous mountain across France, Italy and Switzerland. Emily worked as intensive Care nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw the trip as an opportunity for some “mountain therapy” and FUN! Emily was very honest and inspiring as she discussed aspects of the trip you don't see on social media, such as loneliness and exhaustion. But she also highlighted the amazing moments she had and that the "post-tour blues" are definitely a real thing.
Lastly was another Grant winner, Emily (@positivemarbles). Like so many mums, Emily lives for her kids. She ran the 180 mile long Lakeland Ridges Challenge route over 8 days to prove to herself that not only could she complete the challenge, but that she could make the time to plan and and train whilst juggling her busy life as a mum. I resonated a lot with Emily's story, especially about the "mum guilt" she felt leaving her children. Emily is very self-deprecating and tried to downplay her story of running so many miles, including 18,000 metres of ascent. Luckily the Adventure Queens shouted her down and told her what a phenomenal adventure she had done! We finished the night toasting marshmallows.
Later on was a bivvy experience under the stars and full "Strawberry" moon. Four of us laid out in the field star gazing. The moon was amazing and full, very orange. I and another only lasted half an hour before I went back to the tent but the other two stayed out all night. I'm going to get a proper bivvy bag and try it one night.
On the Sunday was yoga at 8am and a final hurrah community walk for anyone who wanted to join. After saying our farewells it was time to leave the site around 11.30am. Everyone swapped numbers and it felt like we had all made friends for life. Can't wait for the next one!