At Orvis, defining and celebrating #TheArtoftheMiniAdventure is important to us now more than ever. As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel and brighter spring days bursting with nature, we decided to revisit the Mini Adventure, speaking to some friends of Orvis about the adventures they have had so far this year and what they are most looking forward to now that we can travel a little further away from home. Hopefully we can inspire you for your next mini adventure and don’t forget, Orvis has everything your need for your next hike or fishing trip with our large range of outdoor clothing for men and women and flyfishing gear.
Christopher Beaumont-Hutchings, Managing Director of Chilgrove Spirits and owner of @TheGinDog on Instagram
Having discussed the topic at length with our 3-year-old Labrador Yossarian (Yo-Yo to his friends), we are all in agreement that this latest lockdown has had almost no impact on our adventures together whatsoever. Which has had the effect of making us appreciate where we live all the more. We are lucky enough to live in the wilds of the South Downs National Park where most of our neighbours are of the cervine variety. Once you step away from your laptop or phone you could almost forget all about the global pandemic and indeed perhaps that is one of the great joys of having a dog, to have that daily invitation to venture out into the countryside, clear your mind and view the world with the blissfully optimistic and fun-seeking simplicity of a Labrador for a few hours. A true mental ‘circuit-breaker’.
Our day starts with a morning’s work from the home office, with the reassuring warmth (and occasional sleep woofle) of a well-fed Yo-Yo resting on my feet. Come midday I’ll find his emotive unblinking amber eyes staring up at me from under the desk and his tail will start thumping on the carpet to remind me that it’s time for our hike. Stepping out of the front door we navigate our way through the confusion of guineafowl who like to loiter there. They complain loudly but being of brave disposition are typically unphased by Yo-Yo. Our route begins by taking us over the hanger and through the quintessentially Sussex village of Stoughton before we tackle the steep chalky Western slope of Kingley Vale. Leaning into the hill and working hard we trek up through one of Europe’s oldest yew forests with trees over 2,000 years old, which, being one of Yo-Yo’s favourite places, gives me a chance to catch my breath. Meanwhile he scurries around happily, worrying squirrels and charting invisible trails. We then pause together at ‘The Devil’s Humps’ at the top and allow ourselves a moment to enjoy the breath-taking views of the silent countryside, over the creeping silver tendrils of Chichester Harbour reflecting the grey winter’s sky and out across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
Over the remainder of our adventure, we encounter a herd of thirty or more deer, several of them snow white, standing in our path before galloping away across the fields. Red kites circle overhead, and we are frequently surprised by well-hidden pheasants breaking cover at the last moment and making both of us jump. We don’t encounter other humans or cars to break the spell, we seem to have the Downs completely to ourselves for the entirety of our twelve miles together.
Upon our return, Yo-Yo submits to his customary hose-pipe bath with a single reproachful glance in my direction, his tail briefly going on strike and then thoroughly enjoys the hearty towel rub that follows with his tail resuming its helicopter motion once more. The log burner is lit and Yo-Yo circles around in his dog bed beside it a few times before flumping down in the perfect spot, he sighs deeply and then falls instantly fast asleep. I return to the home office, open the lid of my laptop and once more consider whether perhaps I might prefer to be a Labrador too.
Andy Ford, Fly Fisherman and TV Presenter
If you’re an angler, you ‘re used to going fishing on a big, wide piece of water. When there are loads of options in front of you, what’s the first thing you do? You try and cast as far as you can! I’ve often wondered why as the fish are just as likely to be under your feet.
For me, that’s just what lockdown has been like!
You can, of course, find adventures on your doorstep if you simply take the time to look. I’m lucky enough to live slap bang in the middle of chalk stream country, with the rivers Test, Itchen, Avon, Kennet, Meon, and others very close by.
In my ‘normal’ world, I go all over the UK and Europe making films for our TV show ‘On The Bank’. When travel restrictions arrived last year, we were forced to look much closer to home.
Keeping things local meant looking for interesting filming opportunities nearby, so when I got the chance to visit a great stillwater fishery on my doorstep, I jumped at it.
Dever Springs is a famous for its big fish – but even though it’s only 20 minutes from home, I’ve not been there for more than a decade.
Reunited with this spring-fed clearwater paradise, I made a film with the resident ‘pro’ Peter Cockwill which turned into the ultimate mini-adventure. From the glassy depths of Dever, I caught a giant Sparctic Trout – a species I’ve never even seen before. It turns out this magnificent fish, which weighed 11lbs 15oz, is a World Record!
Like all of us, I can’t wait to spread my wings again and explore further afield, but if anything, lockdown has reminded me I need to maintain my appreciation for what’s right in front on me. It just shows you don’t always have to cast, or even travel far to enjoy something very special.
Claire Zambuni, Director & Founder of Zambuni
We travelled to France mid-December. We have a small village house in the foothills of the Pyrenees in a mediaeval village called Chalabre and intended to be back by mid-January. When they announced lockdown in the UK, we decided to stay as three of us working from our flat in London would have tested any family unit.
We call it ‘the hidden France’ as the spectacular natural resources in this area remain relatively unknown. Every day here is a mini adventure if you enjoy nature. The Pyrenees are the wild flower meadows of Europe and with wildness comes a proliferation of bugs and insect life. Three rivers meet in our village – the Blau, the Chalabriel and the River L’Hers and the village is surrounded by ruins of Cathar castles – the remnants from the Albigensian Crusades in the thirteenth century and long challenging walks to the pogs they were originally built on. It has an ancient and rich feel to the area.
Every weekend is a mini adventure. France has wonderful walking trails and we explored new routes from the map each Saturday and Sunday. Plum, our miniature wire-haired dachshund fully approved. My favourite place to walk is around Roquefixade. Half an hour away, in the Ariege department, the ruin of Chateau de Roquefixade is built on a cliff overlooking the village. Records of the castle go back to 1180 and it was a place of refuge for the cathars in the time of the Albigensian Crusade. There is a myriad of ancient paths around the castle varying in length from 2km to 15km across rocky outcrops and through rich forests and we have walked all of them. The views are spectacular and on a clear day you can see Chateau de Montsegur and the mighty snow-covered peaks of the Pyrenees.
We have returned to the UK to blossom blooming and sunnier days. When the sun is shining, everything feels alive and possible and Spring is a special month as nature explodes with beauty and life. There is a sense of unlocking now and increased freedom. The diary is filling with fishing days, stays with friends and wonderful work events to plan and look forward to such as the Beginners Saltwater Weekend, The Fish in the Reads Festival on the banks of the River Test and the Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival 2021. A veritable feast of mini adventures.
Are you planning your own Mini adventure? Don’t forget that Orvis offers a wide range of women’s clothing, men’s clothing and flyfishing gear. We also have everything your need for your four-legged friend to join you on your next trip. Enjoy!