British Summer Time is here! With promises of long, warm summer nights, sunny evenings at the crag and weekends packed with adventure from dawn to dusk. Admittedly, we’re still in March, which means for every day of sun you get one of rain with the additional bonus of the occasional hard frost, but hey, that’s what living in the UK is all about.
I love this time of year. Finally, the dark days of winter are behind us. There’s no longer the agony of staring out of the office window, knowing that by the time you get to leave work, the sun will have slipped away. And let’s face it, it’s much easier to get motivated to go for a post-work run when it’s still light outside.
If you’re itching to get outside, but lacking in inspiration, here are ten fun things to do outdoors with your extra hour of evening daylight.
Take a Different Route Home From Work
If you cycle, walk or run to work, winter commuting can be a punishing experience. Every day becomes a battle of your will versus the weather. Whether you have your head down, pedalling into a headwind, or you end up fighting with your umbrella as you get soaked by a passing lorry, the shortest route home is usually the preferable one.
The reward for your perseverance, is the warm, dry summer evenings, where commuting becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. So now you have a bit more daylight, why not choose an alternative route home and explore more of your local area? Use the CycleStreets planner to plan a longer route home on quiet back roads and cycle paths or swap your road bike for a mountain bike and go off-road.
Go Bouldering Outside
It may not be quite light enough to justify getting your ropes and trad gear out just yet, but there’s plenty of daylight for a quick bouldering session after work. With roadside venues such as Almsclife (Yorkshire), Bonehill Rocks (Devon), Burbage (Peak District) and Dumbarton Rocks (west of Glasgow), you can be parked up and have your bouldering pad out before most of your work colleagues have driven home.
If you’re new to climbing and have been training indoors over the winter, now is the perfect time to test out your skills on real rock. Just remember that bouldering outdoors can be quite different to indoors; check out these tips from the good folks at UKClimbing.
Get Out in the Garden
If you need some outdoor time, look no further than your own back garden. Gardening is relaxing, creative and can be pretty hard work! The combination of spring sun and rain means that everything is starting to grow, so it’s time to get the lawnmower out, tidy up the garden and start planting out those seedlings you’ve been nurturing in the greenhouse. Follow the RHS’s guide for jobs to do at this time of year.
Go on a Microadventure
Have you spent the winter snuggled up at home reading, planning and dreaming of adventure? Now is the time to get out there and have some! I know, I know, you need to ease yourself into this adventuring malarky. After all, the grey drizzle spreading over the M25 is quite different to the hot, wild African plains. But this is where microadventures come in.
Microadventures are pint-sized adventures. They’re not about taking on some huge daunting challenge that you need to raise thousands of pounds for. And there’s no need to go to your boss and beg for six months off work. Microadventures are simple, local and cheap, but most importantly, fun. Whether it’s cooking dinner over a camp fire, a mid-week overnight bivvy or even camping in your garden, microadventures are exactly what you want to make them. For more ideas and lots of tips check out Alastair Humphreys’ excellent blog.
If you’ve never tried orienteering (and if not, why not?), now is a great time to start. Most orienteering clubs put on friendly summer evening events at local parks and woodlands. These are ideal for beginners, and they’ll usually be someone around to show you the ropes. Check out this newcomer’s guide to getting into orienteering, and find an event near you on the British Orienteering website.
Take the Kids on an Adventure
I’m going to be a bit controversial, but hear me out. Spring is here. It’s time to turn the TV off, put the iPad out of reach on the top shelf and limit access to the Playstation. It’s time for a family adventure.
Now the evenings are lighter there are loads of (free) outdoor activities you can take advantage of. Cycle along a canal towpath, go on a treasure hunt or feed the ducks in the park. Go in search of the Gruffalo, roast marshmallows on an open fire or build a den in the woods. Your kids will have a great time and will be so tired, you’ll all get a great night’s sleep.
Get Fit with an Outdoor Bootcamp
Fed up of sweaty gyms? Give yourself plenty of arm-waving space by taking your work out outdoors. There’s also the added bonus of being able to breath fresh, unfiltered air. If you like being shouted at, British Military Fitness run classes at all levels across the country. UK Outdoor Fitness also offer nationwide classes (possibly with less shouting) and there are plenty of local trainers around if you’re looking for some one-to-one training.
Go to an Open Air Cinema
If you’re looking for something a little less active, then take a seat at an open air cinema. You can usually take along a picnic and drinks and they’re hosted in venues from castles and stately homes to rooftop gardens and cobbled streets.
Enter some evening running events
If your weekends are packed full of family commitments, opportunities to enter running races can be few and far between. The good news is, that as the evenings start getting lighter, there are more opportunities to compete in events after work. There’s a pretty comprehensive list of events here.
If you’re lucky enough to live near the hills, then there’s no excuse not to try out some of the local fell races. The
Fell Runner website has a full list of FRA registered races and you can search by region to find events in your area. Want to have even more fun? GO ORIENTEERING. (I’m not going to tell you again.)
Take a sunset walk
One of the nicest things about this time of year is that the sun sets at a perfect time for evening sunset walks. It’s not so early that you’re stuck at work, and you have plenty of time to get home for a late dinner afterwards. Take a stroll through your local park, woodland or fields. Close your eye and breathe in the sounds and smells of nature. Relax and enjoy the swathes of colour across the sky as the sun dips below the horizon. Be at peace.
What’s your favourite way to use the extra daylight we have in the evenings? Get in touch on Twitter and let me know, or drop a comment in the box below. Happy adventuring!