Adventure Queen Vanessa attended our 1st birthday campout in the Yorkshire Dales. She took the leap, and a weekend filled with many firsts (oh yeah!!!)! Here’s a bit of a low down from Vanessa and words for newbies and/or Adventure Queens mums alike.
I arrive at Low Greenside Farm Campsite with a smug smile on my face. Driving through the stonewalled gates of this North Yorkshire farm feels like an oddly triumphant thing to do. Behind the gates over 50 fellow Adventure Queens await, a sisterhood I haven’t met before but feel strangely connected to. Slightly taken aback by this sensation of triumph, I begin to wonder why I’m not feeling giddy excitement instead. In fact, it feels like I somehow conquered the biggest obstable already. A reflection on the usual suspects unveils that the reason behind this early sense of accomplishment is close to home.
The name of the child? Mom guilt. For those unfamiliar with it: Mom guilt is a ubiquitous background noise that becomes painstakingly audible every time a woman with child decides to not wear the mom hat. I left my mom hat in Southport with my husband today. There’s nothing to worry about — from a rational point of view, that is.
In the same breath, I also realise that my small triumph may be a little more profound than anticipated. Adventure Queen’s first birthday campout, is the first NEW thing I am attempting solo since I fell pregnant. So far, adventuring with a 2.5 year old mini queen has been about reclaiming/reinventing the things I, we, have done before. The firsts accompanied by dances and high-pitched exclamations had always been dedicated to my mini adventuress. This was about to change.
As I step out of the car, I see Anna who welcomes me with a big bear hug. As it turns out, I’m not the only one attempting a first today. I quickly found folks who either embraced plan bivvy or an adventure queen camp out for the first time. Quite a few of these kickass ladies came solo and many ticked all three boxes-like me. The first adventuress I meet is my bivvy neighbour, Rebecca, who rambled from Kirkby Stephen to the campsite. She’s also attempting her first bivvy night out, after bagging a solid 20km on an afternoon ramble through the Dales. Kudos to her!
Much to my own amazement, my bivvy adventure is off to a smooth start. In less than 5 minutes, my million star retreat is set up. The comparison to our usual family campouts does not fail to boggle my mind. Usually we spend a good 40 minutes fiddling with the tent, transporting everything but the kitchen sink inside to then prepare lunch/dinner or snacks for a remarkably patient adventure toddler.
The speedy campsite set up leaves me and the other bivvy baggers with some time at our hands. Since the footie is ON, I decide to follow the invitation of campsite owner Rosie, and join her for an all-female football cheering session. A mug of proper Yorkshire tea (Rosie is a star) and an England win have us return happily to the official AQ kick off. A group hug, a few words on the plan for the night, dinner first, marshmallows and adventure stories after, are the first things on the official agenda. Once dinner was devoured, it was time for the main course. Marshmallows whose size I struggle to describe without sounding like Donald Trump. They were big. Humongous even! The biggest marshmallows I’ve ever seen.
As the sun treats us to a glowing postcard perfect Yorkshire sunset, we’re hearing more about the challenges other queenies have had to overcome. For a first-timer like me this is aloe vera on my mom guilt-ladden adventure soul. Both Suzie’s and Mari’s talk offered a raw and refreshingly honest account of female adventuring. Themes like mental illness and self doubt peppered their fireplace stories revolving around an epic bike ride across Australia and an equally epic two- week hike through the wilds of Scotland. Amazed by the grit, gut and humour fuelling the adventures of both speakers I’m beginning to wonder about the kinds of adventures I will pull out of my hat.
Over the now crackling campfire I get the chance to connect with the other queens, each one is at a different chapter of their adventure journey. Each one has a story to contribute, knowledge and experiences to share. I do find myself listening more than talking but it doesn’t bother me. Each queen seems very comfortable in their own skin, something that may also have to do with. the soothing powers of nature!
Once the sun slides behind the horizon, not without being appreciated as a very Insta-worthy sunset, we slowly get ready for our wild sleep out. In the morning, there’s an early hike and acro-yoga to choose from. My heart is set on the hike and bearing that early start in mind I drift off into a deep sleep at 11pm. Although I felt ridiculous for packing a woolen hat when the thermometer showed 30 degrees, I’m now glad I did. My nose now feels a tad nippy. I woke up a few times that night, since I managed to slowly slide off my mat down the hill, still I started the day feeling strangely invigorated.
We were off to the much anticipated 10km hike to the top of Cautley Spout. After a steep climb up a typical Yorkshire mountain we overlooked the sheep-dotted, patchy landscape of the Dales. The sound of the tumbling water made the heat more bearable and the breeze on top was pure bliss. I once again remember how much I love Britain’s wild places. After an old-fashioned group photo, we begin the descend. We ramble through a wild valley, talk adventure and life plans and then arrive 3 hours later back at the parking lot. It’s time for a sweaty but happy farewell.
With a smug smile on my face I’m headed back to Southport.
Born and raised in Germany, Vanessa first caught the travel bug, then a Kiwi husband and somewhere along the way a strange NZ-German accent often mistaken for a South African one. Yes, apparently this is a thing! Now living in Nottingham, she’s on a mission to explore Britain’s wild corners with her adventure toddler. She occasionally swaps her mom hat for running shoes, mostly to leave the tantruming to the professionals.