Last weekend I celebrated Ordnance Survey’s National GetOutside Day by setting myself a silly challenge to see how many GetOutside activities I could take part in during one weekend. In all I took part in more than 50 activities in 48 hours. It was so much fun and (unsurprisingly) rather tiring. I climbed hills, went swimming, camped, played silly games in the park, foraged for berries, went paddle boarding, and lots more besides. All in the name of demonstrating just how much there is on offer to us out of doors.
In short, I wanted to use National GetOutside Day as an opportunity to do my part in encouraging you to spend a little bit more time outdoors. My One Hour Outside campaign is all about making – creating – time each and every day to get some fresh air, do a little bit of exercise, and give ourselves the opportunity to get the national light we need to keep us healthy. The whole point of this challenge was to demonstrate just how many activities there are available to us out of doors – hopefully one of them will take your fancy and you can go and take part in it yourself this weekend.
And that’s it really, I just wanted to set some kind of weird example. I hope I managed it.
Starting my challenge at Pittville Park, Cheltenham.
My GetOutside Activity Challenge
This wasn’t a Guinness Word Record attempt, and so I didn’t need to be too formal about what counted as an activity and what didn’t, but I did think you’d want to know how I decided whether I wrote something down or not. It was very simple really:
- Is the activity something you can do (something I did) outdoors?
- Is it something you could do for an hour (although I didn’t do them all for an hour each on the day)?
- And did I take part in it for long enough that Sarah and I both agreed I’d done it.
My challenge started in Pittville Park, Cheltenham, straight after work on Friday afternoon – which is when the weekend officially starts. By 10pm that evening I’d already completed 11 activities and knew I was in for a treat of a weekend. One such activity was commuting on foot, something I don’t do regularly anymore. The three-and-a-bit-mile walk took about an hour along the pavement by the side of the busy road I’d normally drive along. I discovered a view I’d not noticed from in the car, and if that isn’t a good enough reason to get out and walk instead of drive I don’t know what is!
View of the Malvern Hills from my commute.
Apart from the commute I also met a friend for a catch-up (who then stayed with me the whole weekend), foraged for berries, did a litter pick, made a bug hotel to hang in my garden, had a barbecue, and did some night sky stargazing, amongst other things.
One litter pick haul.
After a hearty breakfast at home, we started Saturday by heading down to the Cotswold Country Park and Beach, which is part of an old quarry site that is now used for leisure activities. The team there were kind enough to gift me free entry to help me with my challenge, but having been there I’d have happily paid the £12 to get in (this off-season price covers a car load of people for the whole day). Whist there, Sarah and I had a great time sampling the different activities on offer (which we did pay for ourselves), including kayaking and SUP on the North Lake – which was perfectly flat and we had all to ourselves. It was an absolute pleasure to be out on the water for an hour (half an hour on each craft), I could have easily done that all day!
Kayaking at Cotswold Country Park and Beach.
I also paddled in the lake, went on a pedalo (possibly the most fun we had all weekend), played mini golf (I lost), ate ice cream (which I bought as my punishment for losing at mini golf), walked around one of the lakes, and genuinely had a really great time. I say “great time” a lot in this blog post, I fear. I’ll be going back to the beach for sure – I really want to have a go on the Aqua Venture inflatable obstacle course in the lake, that looks utterly brilliant.
On a swan pedalo at Cotswold Country Park and Beach.
Staying in the Cotswolds AONB, we headed over to Dursley because I wanted to do a few map-based activities… I mean, National GetOutside Day is an Ordnance Survey run event, after all! We spotted “monument” on the map and ended up learning all about William Tyndale, walked up a hill, bagged a trig pillar (one of my favourite outdoors activities, because it generally means there will be a great view), took some scenic photographs, walked along a National Trail – part of the Cotswold Way, went for a jog (!), and stopped at something we drove passed because it looked interesting – I reversed up a country lane because we saw a sign to a community greenspace project.
Bagging a trig at Stinchcombe.
We camped at Thistledown Farm near Nailsworth, which turned out to be an excellent choice. I normally choose pretty basic sites, because they tend to be quiet, but I wanted something a bit nicer this time around and this one had a bit more going for it (reflected in the price) – with large car-free camping areas, very nice composting loos, hot showers, campfire pits, and direct access to Woodchester Park, a National Trust site. As with Cotswold Country Park and Beach and the area we visited in the afternoon, this is another place I hope to revisit when I have more time to explore – despite being quite close to home, I would happily base myself here for a weekend away. We got our campfire going, watched sunset over the valley, cooked dinner backwoods style, did some body balance, read our books/magazines, started whittling our spoons, and went for a night hike.
Body Balance (Yoga/Tai Chi) was an excellent way to wind down.
Having completed just shy of 40 activities by this point, Sarah and I woke up a bit tired and achy, but looking forward to another day of fun outdoors. We started with a pre-breakfast hike, visited the National Trust site adjacent to the campsite, made our own bread for breakfast, and went geocaching – which involved getting attacked by brambles for the second time during the challenge.
Then it was off to Robinswood Hill Country Park in Gloucester for some more activities – we met up with Katy for some dog walking, frisbee playing and tree climbing.
Climbing trees at Robinswood Hill Country Park.
In the afternoon we did Sarah’s favourite activity – some urban wandering – before taking a dip in Sandford Parks Lido (which is apparently heated… er…), walking to the shops to buy supplies, and heading to the park for a picnic. Of course, you can’t just have a picnic, can you? We played park/garden games, too – kite flying, a strange chuck balls at a Velcro hat thing game called butt head, did some skipping, and generally had proper giggle. I’ll be honest, once we’d played our games we sat on our picnic blankets, drank tea and ate snacks. It was the first time we’d really sat down all weekend – I could have very easily had a nap there and then, it was bliss.
Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham. A “refreshing” dip.
And that was it. I finished my GetOutside Activity Challenge where I started it 48 hours later, having taken part in over 50 activities, and having had the most brilliant weekend of fun.
One of the key things for me was to demonstrate that the outdoors can be for all, and it doesn’t have to cost loads of money. The outdoors is perceived as being a very expensive place, and it really doesn’t have to be.
Some of the activities I took part in during my challenge weekend did involve a fee, but I think I did a pretty good job going for things that are affordable. To give you a break down: Beach entry was £12 (which was gifted to me), kayak hire £6 for half an hour, SUP hire £10 for half an hour with no tuition, mini golf was £3 each (plus a £5 deposit that was refunded when we took the clubs and balls back), swan pedalo £8 for half an hour split between two (worth every single penny – hilarious fun), the (very nice) campsite was £26 split between two, and entry to the Lido was £5. Of course you wouldn’t normally do all these things in one go, I wouldn’t anyway, but I don’t think the total cost was over the top. Considering the type of activities we did, and the campsite I chose, I think this provided pretty good value.
Paddleboarding at Cotswold Country Park and Beach.
There was also some driving to be done, which I realise isn’t an option for all. Naturally I wouldn’t normally squeeze in as many different activities in one weekend and so wouldn’t normally be jumping in and out of the car between places, but I did work to keep the travelling time (and therefore impact) to a minimum. It is still possible to do the activities I did using public transport – it might take a bit more organising but it is doable.
It Really Was Better with Friends
I was very pleased when Sarah said she would be willing to come and spend the weekend with me. She was a constant source of motivation and did pretty much all the activities with me. She also was a willing photographer, which was very nice of her! And Katy, who joined us on the Sunday for some dog walking, swimming and picnic fun, was also a huge motivator. Spending time outdoors on your own really is wonderful, sometimes that is everything you need, but it is true to say that it’s even better with friends, and I honestly don’t think I’d have squeezed in so many activities if Sarah or Katy hadn’t shown up.
Sarah and Katy in the park.
The Long List
I’ll be sharing a full list of the activities I took part in very soon, along with some ideas of things that I didn’t manage to squeeze into my 48 hours outside, so I hope you’ll come back and have a read of that.
At the end of my challenge.
The question now is – how do I beat this next year?! Put your ideas in the comments below… all sensible (and not so sensible) suggestions considered!