When I’m travelling I always seek out adventures and alternative activities I can do in my destination. However, when I’m living somewhere full time I forget to do this, instead saying I’m saving money for my travels. So then what happens when I’m living in such a fantastic city, in the height of summer and I’m a little bit bored? Well on this occasion what happens is I stumbled upon Secret Adventures and wanted to book everything. I of course couldn’t do this (but who wouldn’t want to go on their Arctic Expedition?!) and instead signed up for not one but two adventures.
Canoeing in London with Secret Adventures
The first of these adventures was canoeing (if you hadn’t guessed from the title) in Richmond on the outskirts of London and if you’ve been reading the blog for a while you’ll know that isn’t far from where I live. As I cycled along the river to our meeting point on this beautiful summers’ evening I knew there was no where else I’d rather be. I’d grown up as a bit of a tom boy, even being a Scout and Explorer Scout during my teenage years and those days were filled with adventures like this.
We met at the bottom of River Lane in Petersham and were greeted by the organisers of the canoeing company Back of Beyond Adventures, they were providing the equipment and instructor for the evening. After filling out the mandatory form we began getting kitted up with life jackets, dry bags (big and small for all our belongings) and a paddle. Then before the real fun on the water began we went over a safety demonstration and some quick instructions on how to paddle and steer our boats. Our instructor Tony introduced himself and I immediately knew we were in for a good time when we began playing games as part of the demonstration.
We had six boats between the 14 participants and it didn’t take long to get ourselves in groups and on the water. During our time paddling on the water Tony kept our group together with frequent stops often rafting up on the edge of the river and making us change boats. This meant we had to trust everyone would hold on and not let us fall in the water. Other stops involved more of a talk about the history of this area or some random and interesting facts. This certainly kept the trip interesting, relative to London and although Tony claimed not be a tour guide he certainly did a good job. The majority of the trip was relaxed and pace kept slow but occasionally there was a little race or competition thrown in to spice things up and make sure we were all still awake. This was no more so than the race we had right before our pub stop, needless to say we all ended up pretty wet from splashing so much while paddling hard.
After around an hour or so of canoeing we took a quick break at the pub. Our destination was The White Swan, a pub with a beer garden onto the river and a beach to paddle on to. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed on this sunny summers’ evening and I thoroughly enjoyed my cider while chatting to some of the others in the group. After some photo opportunities we quickly jumped back on the river with one final raft up and game on the way home. Tony had totally saved this one until we’d all had a drink… the aim of the game was to stand up on the edges of the boat, trusting that the others would hold the boat and keep you from falling. It certainly caused for a few laughs but no one fell in luckily. As we paddled back onto the beach we came from, dusk had well and truly settled and the air was beginning to chill.
After we handed back the equipment and helped to tidy things away some of the instructors headed for a swim in the Thames. A normal after activity of any Secret Adventure… I on the other hand chickened out after seeing a rather large dead fish on the edge of the water. Fish are enough to put me off anything, exactly how I’m going to cope on my next adventure with these guys I don’t know, it’s a New Moon Swim in a lake in Richmond.
This company has been set up by Madoc (who I had the pleasure of meeting on the canoeing trip) a keen adventurer who wanted to find like minded people to join him and his crazy ideas. He aims to bring something unusual and different to the normal London experiences normally involving water, fire and exploring. His adventures also run further a field than London with a secret wild camping trip to Devon planned and an Arctic Expedition for the new year. He aims to build a community of people who love exploring new places and doing out-of-the-ordinary things with their life. I love everything about this company’s ethos and if that isn’t enough they help fund the children’s charity Kids Company. This includes organising special adventures for the children. With each trip you go on through Secret Adventures you are helping to give something towards this wonderful charity.
I had the best time on this trip and it really helped me to realise how important it is to get back to your roots and nature. Being out on the water with like minded people made me think of summer camp in America and many other amazing times travelling but it also reminded me I can have these adventures closer to home, even in London.
I was a guest of Secret Adventures for this trip but believe me when I say I had the best time. I would highly recommend them and have already booked my next trip.