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Playing 5-to-9: The micro adventurers

Written by Fiona

July 09 2017

micro adventure scotland

What do you do after work? Like many people, you most likely commute home, perhaps popping into the gym on the way, before eating dinner, watching TV, checking Facebook and then heading to bed. The next day you get up, return to the office and repeat your evening routine.

But there are 16 hours between the traditional work day finish at 5pm and clocking in again at 9am – and a growing number of people are doing something far less ordinary with this time.

These 5to9ers seek “micro” adventures and a chance to make better use of the after-work-before-work period.

It is claimed that it was adventure writer Alastair Humphreys who started the idea and his book Micro Adventures has lots of ideas.

Five steps to a 5to9 adventure

Scotland is great for micro adventures because the countryside is so accessible, wherever you live. You just need to want to do it.

Keep it simple: You don’t need to go far from home and you can walk, cycle, drive a car or get the train. It’s simply about sleeping under the stars and enjoying a fun adventure.

Make a plan: If you write down or tell others what you plan to do you are more likely to go. Make sure you leave work on time, head to a pre-planned location and then set an alarm to ensure you get back for work the next day.

Go together: If you make a plan with someone else you are much more likely to carry it through.

Travel light: Carry as little as possible but make sure you pay heed to the weather and have enough kit for warmth. 

Just do it: Say you will – and you’ll do it. Then tell others so they can try, too.

Update: Read this short blog about a recent 5pm to 9am micro adventure.

Also read: Top 10 tips for your first micro adventure.

Now meet three 5to9ers:

Work night hill camper

Alex Slipchuk, 45, is a technical field consultant from Glasgow.  He is required to travel extensively in Scotland with his work. But instead of staying in hotels, he often chooses to camp overnight on local hills.

Alex, who has two young daughters, says: “I love that there’s time between 5pm and 9am on a work night to enjoy a countryside adventure. I enjoy the unique sense of freedom to escape into the hills and mountains, carrying all I’ll need for a night of camping.  

“It also feels special because you know that most other people are watching TV at home, while, instead, I am watching the stars.”

Alex also relishes the moment when he wakes up along on a summit. He says: “I have camped in so many beautiful places in Scotland and it’s a treat to have them all to yourself with such stunning views.” 

There have been many highlight micro-adventures for Alex, but two stand out. He says: “The first time I slept on the top of Buachaille Etive Beag in Glencoe I saw an incredible meteor shower. 

“Another time, on Beinn an Dothaidh, in the Bridge of Orchy mountains, it was very windy but I awoke to glorious above-the-clouds sunshine. “ 

Alex has also found that the five-to-nine adventures are a good way to stay fit for his climbing passion. He says: “If I use this time while I am away from home to stay in shape it means I impact less on the time I spend with my daughter when I am not at work.” 

His micro-adventure kit list includes a one-man tent, sleeping bag and mat, jet boil stove, kettle, coffee filter, water and basic foodstuffs. He says: “I keep it all as lightweight as possible and according to the season but one thing I will not sacrifice is my morning coffee.”

Living life to the full with mountain bike micro adventures

micro adventure scotland
micro adventure scotland

Naomi Freireich, a mum-of-two, lives in Edinburgh and works as a project manager. Naomi is a huge fan of 5to9 adventures because they allow her to make the most of “every spare minute” during a very busy work and home life.

She says: “I love cramming in adventures whenever I can. It makes me feel so alive to be out doing fun things in the night when I know other people are tucked away in their homes. 

“For me, it’s also about creating memories and each micro-adventure is just that: Another crazy memory.”

Her 5to9 trips usually start in Edinburgh straight after work and take place within a couple of hours of driving. Recently, she headed to Dunkeld with her mountain bike.

She says: “I had decided I would take advantage of the good weather to ride the Queen’s Road around Loch Oisinneach and to sleep overnight at a bothy.

“I drove up after work and parked just outside Dunkeld. It’s only just over an hour from Edinburgh so very manageable after work, and, more importantly, before.

“The trip coincided with a huge moon for the ride out, which was stunning, and my bike lights kept reflecting off the eyes of deer peering at me from off the trail. 

“The next morning I experienced an amazing sunrise on the ride back to Dunkeld. In the dawn light, I chased an owl along the path for about 200 metres. You just don’t get these experiences at home.”

Naomi travelled light on her bike carrying a sleeping bag, a tin of beans and a cheese sandwich. She says: “I had plenty of water, too, plus the usual bike spares and emergency supplies, and knew I could get breakfast at work.

“When I got back to my desk I couldn’t stop smiling. You know that almost anyone you tell about the trip will look at you like you’re insane, but it’s the abnormality of it that appeals to me.

“It’s the ability to distinguish ‘that’ night from any of the others when you’ve just done the same thing. I love to live my life fully by enjoying adventures.” 

A wild camping truck driver

Dad-of-three Fraser Brown lives in Bathgate, West Lothian. He is an  HGV truck driver. Fraser says: “I’m not your normal truck driver because I prefer to sleep wild on a beach or next to a loch, rather than in my truck.”

The keen micro-adventurer makes the most of his time after parking up the lorry. He says: “If I’m not going to make it home at night I try to find somewhere suitable to put the tent up. 

“Time is short with a young family and it is hard to fit in days away. If I can get a small adventure – like a mini break – while I’m away working in the week it’s so satisfying.”  

Memorable camps include a beach near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula with views over to the Isle of Jura; a winter overnight hike in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh and a summer camp in the Ochil Hills in Stirlingshire. 

Fraser’s camping kit fits into a small rucksack and includes a one-man tent, a sleeping bag, self-inflating sleeping mattress, stove, cooking pot, basic foods and water.

He says: “These mini adventures reset me a little bit and give me that bit of the outdoors that I crave. I’d encourage everyone to try it.”

More micro adventure posts

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