Mini adventures, or as Alastair Humphries coined them, microadventures, have become a regular part of life in Cornwall. I have some brilliant ideas to share with you, so you can enjoy your own, wherever you are.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve been talking about microadventures for months (check out this reel from the summer). Like many people, some of my new found microadventures started during the pandemic. Me and my son, Henry, started walking and exploring our local area daily; something we may not have made the time for otherwise.
As the summer arrived, I started combining my love of running on the south west coast path with my love of sea swimming. I’d often take a dip mid-run to cool down and break up the miles. I’m so used to doing it now, a little dip is now part of my routine. It’s glorious, invigorating and uplifting, and totally revives me mid run. There are, after all, many climbs on the coast path and a swim in the sea totally revives my legs.
Microadventures are officially meant to start at 5pm and end at 9am, but for me, that’s not really possible. Rather than focus on the time, mini adventures are all about local discoveries and accessible adventure. They offer a sense of freedom and exploration; doing something different while remaining relatively close to home. That’s what it’s all about for me.
My microadventures haven’t exclusively been about running and swimming. As this post illustrates, there’s so much on offer in Cornwall and you can design and plan your own microadventures depending on location and interests.
Wherever I am, I always take an OS map and load up my OS map app to track my route. I’m pretty good at not getting lost but you never know. As a mainly solo adventurer, it gives me peace of mind. The only other essential I’d recommend is taking some water, and if it’s going to be a long one, some food.
16 Ideas for Microadventures in Cornwall, and Beyond
There’s loads of ideas and places to explore for your own microadventures. The world, or Cornwall, is your oyster! Here’s some inspiration and ideas to unlock your inner adventurer, and widen your experience of being outdoors.
Take a Twilight Walk
Walking at dusk, chasing sunsets, and being surrounded by nature as the sun goes down can make for some special microadventures. As autumn comes around once more, twilight walking doesn’t have to happen so late. Simply plan your route, take provisions, wrap up, and enjoy the views.
I have plenty of inspiration for twilight walks and runs here, why not head over to my running routes page for some ideas along Cornwall’s coast?
Wild Camp and Sleep Under the Stars
I can’t think of anything that allows us to feel quite at one with nature like sleeping under the stars. While I haven’t embarked on any wild camping recently, I think it’s something my son would enjoy. I know I’d like the escapism and the quiet that comes with being off the beaten path.
My friend, Stephie, at Ten Mile Hike knows some good wild camping spots. There’s literally nowhere she doesn’t know or hasn’t been. If you need a little help, she’s the one to ask!
Wild Swimming Microadventures
It seems the pandemic made us all sea or wild swimming enthusiasts. With lockdown came a massive rise of people making the most of their daily exercise and embracing the benefits of the coast.
While we’re lucky to have endless beaches to choose from in Cornwall, a great microadventure would be to find a safe river and try a bit of wild swimming. In Cornwall, there are spots along the Truro and Falmouth River (there’s loads of potential places off the footpath or south west coast path), Golitha Falls in Liskeard, or one of our many tidal pools.
Worried about the colder weather, and swimming in the winter? You may be interested in my 6 tips to help you take the plunge.
Take a Photography Tour
If you like photography, why not plan a photography microadventure. This could be a new place or area you’ve been meaning to go to, or maybe you want to master dusk or sunset photography. Perhaps some macro close ups to capture the smaller details that catch your eye?
Obviously we have the coast which makes for a photographers playground. It’s not the only place for a mini adventure in Cornwall though. We have lots of woodland, amazing for capturing light and mood. There’s the popular Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin, or Tehidy, in west Cornwall.
Hop on a Train
Once, when visiting London, we all hopped on a random bus and just went to its final destination. It was a good way of seeing the sights, especially some parts of London that we may have otherwise overlooked.
You can make you own microadventure by hopping on any bus or train, wherever you are. In Cornwall, I’d recommend one of our pretty branch lines. Just the train ride alone is scenic, but the destinations are pretty good too. We have the Looe Valley line, ending in Looe, a popular coastal town with plenty to see.
I’d also recommend the St Ives Branch Line. It offers ridiculously good views of some of Cornwall’s finest beaches. You could get off at Carbis Bay and enjoy some time on this yellow sanded beach that looks like it belongs in Greece, or you could explore the beaches and art scene in St Ives.
Forage for Food
Foraging for food makes for a satisfying microadventure and what you find will obviously depend on seasons. There’s blackberries towards the end of summer, and apples in September. In Cornwall we have several community orchards, some of which aren’t widely known. They’re are definitely worth a visit.
Other foodie microadventures include foraging for seaweed, mussels and shellfish, or mushrooms. With the latter make sure you do your homework though! No one wants a dodgy funghi.
Not confident on where you should look, or what you can or should forage? Check out Cornish Wild Food for foraging courses and events.
Explore Your Local Area
Is it me, or did we all do a bit of this in lockdown? Me and Henry consulted our local OS map and planned short walks that took us along local public footpaths and byways. We became used to navigating fields with cows 😬 (OK, we didn’t get totally used to it but we tried) and saw our little village from different vantage points. Everyday, we had our own discoveries, even when we retraced our steps.
Discover New Routes or Trails
Another potential microadventure would be to go somewhere familiar but find new trails or paths.
As soon as I thought of this idea, the Pentewan Trail came to mind. This popular clay trail lies beside a woodland, maintained by the Forestry Commission. It’s an idea environment to discover new trails and routes. Just take a path into the woods, and trust it’ll take you to the main path (don’t worry, it will. They’re all linked and signed).
Find a Secluded, Hidden Beach
Finding hidden beaches in Cornwall isn’t as difficult as you’d think. In fact, I find it hard to believe that true secret beaches actually exist anymore. There are some beaches that involve a walk to get to though, making them a less popular and perhaps not the first choice for many to frequent.
You could plan your own beach microadventures by heading out on the coast path, and looking for those openings in hedges and bracken. Some paths are quite narrow but you can usually determine pretty quickly whether or not it’s safe to reach the sand below.
If you own a kayak or SUP, I think you have a real advantage here. If the conditions are right, you can get to any little cove you want. A little beach all to yourself? Now you’re talking!
Walk for Weekend Brunch
Personally, I find walking for food incredibly satisfying. The weekends are perfect for this kind of microadventure; having a slow morning, taking your time and heading out somewhere for brunch. One idea would be to park at Swanpool beach and walk the south west coast path to the Gylly Beach Cafe. You’ll be well fed here and can gaze out to sea as you sip your coffee.
Remote, Al Fresco Eating
Keeping on the theme of food, an alternative to eating in is to embark on a little outside eating. Pitch up somewhere secluded, maybe bring a camping stove if you have one, and cook a breakfast or a one pot meal. We’re massive fans of picnics in this house, why not make it gourmet, with delicious fruit, cheeses and meats, and a glass of bubbles?
Explore Places Imbued with Heritage and Legends
Oooh, I love a bit of history and stories of myths and legends. They certainly add that extra something to microadventures!
One special place to have a Cornish mini adventure is to visit some of our tin mines. Botallack and Levant tin mines are quite close together on Cornwall’s Tin Coast, it’s possible to experience both in one day. There’s Information available by the tin mines, retelling stories of tragedy and disaster at both locations. Ruins of outbuildings and houses are in situ too, so you really get a feel for what life might’ve been like all those years ago.
Cornish tin mines and wheal houses aren’t the only places in Cornwall with a tale to tell. St Michaels Mount in Mounts Bay, is connected to stories of seamen who were led to safety by an Archangel, alongside whispers of a giant who once lived on the mount.
We clearly like our giants in Cornwall because Bedruthan Steps is also connected to a giant legend who used the stacks as stepping stones. I’d definitely recommend visiting Bedruthan Steps, if only to appreciate its beauty.
Go On A Road Trip
We love a road trip here in Cornwall, and given that it’s quite a big county, you could potentially cover quite a few places in one day. Anyway, road trips make for excellent microadventures!
I’ve had several road trips in my time. I’ve covered Port Isaac and Port Quin in a day (easily done), and there’s a few places to stop for food in Port Isaac. I’d also recommend Cadgwith and Coverack, two authentic and traditional Cornish fishing villages with cute cottages scenic views. In fact, there’re close to Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula. With some planning, you could include all 3 into your Cornish road trip microadventure.
Kynance Cove is one of Cornwall’s most beautiful places. If you’re planning a trip there, you may find my post, Visiting Kynance Cove: 14 FAQs useful.
Cover Every Single Street
I can’t take credit for this idea, I nabbed it from a local runner who, during lockdown, ran every street in St Mawes. I couldn’t believe how much the miles added up.
It’s definitely one way of getting to know every twist and turn of a village or town, as well as exploring new streets and passages. You could potentially complete this microadventure close to home or use it as a way to get to know a new place. I guess you’d need an app, like Strava, to make sure you really have covered every street (and to make sure you can get back to your car!)
Plan Random, But Meaningful Microadventures
Some microadventures may seem random to others, but can hold personal meaning and offer some nostalgia for those undertaking them. The idea here is to revisit somewhere special or relevant and connect once more with a place that holds memories. How this is done is down to you and your individual experiences. You could pick a few landmarks or places and cycle or hike between them.
For me, one place that comes to mind is Respryn. This is a safe, flat woodland walk from Lanhydrock House to Bodmin train station, and was a regular family walk for us as children, with our spaniel, Sam. We loved it when our dad took us off the path and those the deep foliage lining the beginning of River Fowey.
Even though I seem to be mostly about the beaches and south west coast path, microadventures are equally as enjoyable in woodland. In Cornwall, we have some wonderful, mystical woodland, some more well known than others. There’s the popular Idless Woods, near Truro, and Davidstow near Camelford.
I’d recommend Kennall Vale Nature Reserve, great for running and dog walking. For me, I enjoyed learning about the site’s history, originating from its time as a gunpowder mill. It’s also a good places for children to explore, and enjoy their own microadventure.
I hope these ideas spark some curiosity and sense of wanderlust for you to have your own microadventures. There’s so much on our doorsteps, and of local discoveries to be had. You don’t have to go far to feel like you’ve escaped!
Have you had any microadventures recently? What’s your favourite, to date?