This year as a family, we have been trying to simplify our lives and rather than buying each other more ‘stuff’ we decided to gift each other ‘experiences’ instead. For my recent birthday, I chose to take part in one of Anna’s wonderful WanderWomen Adventures as they combine all the things I love to do: spending time in nature, walking, mindfulness, meditation and yoga, plus a few real challenges such as sea swimming. I hadn’t chosen which adventure to treat myself to, but when Anna offered a special Mother’s Day deal, I decided to sign up to ‘Barefoot Wanders’ and asked if I could bring my teenage daughter Daisy along as my companion. Daisy has been away at Glasgow University for the best part of this year and although I have been lucky enough to see her on a regular basis, we haven’t really had a chance to connect properly for a good few months and she’s not had much of an opportunity for outdoor adventures since she was a child.
As predicted, it was a very grey, drizzly morning but we were excited for our adventure and weren’t going to let the weather dampen our spirits. The group gathered at Dirleton and after introducing ourselves, we each chose a ‘wisdom card’ which gave us a lesson to reflect on during the morning. We then headed off into the Archerfield estate in silence for some mindful walking. Despite the all pervasive greyness, we were treated to a burst of sunshine from the luminous yellow gorse, smelling faintly of coconut and peaches which adorned our path; bright blue forget-me-nots; pale yellow primroses, tiny purple violets and rain-decorated spider webs. I was so busy focusing on the amazing colours, shapes and scents of the hedgerow, that I nearly missed a couple of deer who were watching us from a nearby field. Lucky I had Daisy there to alert me to them.
After negotiating a couple of heavy showers and gathering pinecones for the fire, we reached the edge of the beach and prepared for some barefoot walking. Despite the cold and wet, it was truly refreshing to shed my walking boots and socks and reawaken my feet which have been hidden away most of the winter. The feeling of wet grass, smooth pebbles and coarse sand underfoot was very grounding and I really enjoyed the powerful feeling of freedom and reconnecting to the natural environment. I was delighted that Daisy was also up for the challenge and she did brilliantly negotiating the tricky path down to the beach.
After a short walk along the sand with Fidra Island and its lighthouse just visible in front of us, we reached a hidden cave above the beach, ‘The Fortress of Solitude’, where we dried off, put our boots back on then gathered together on a narrow, sheltered ledge. With a spectacular view of the beach below us, we settled into a very relaxing meditation and deep breathing exercise.
The next task was to put up a shelter, build a fire and nourish ourselves and I was so proud of Daisy joining in with the others to help build and light the fire and then work so hard to keep it going, while the weather did it’s best to try and put it out. Anna provided a delicious picnic of overnight oats and berries, home-made bread, soft cheese and grapes and we boiled up plenty of water in the Kelly Kettle for much-needed and very warming hot drinks. After much chatting and some tasty marshmallows we eventually packed up and, making sure we’d left no trace, headed further along the coast path and past some lovely sea buckthorn bushes, towards Yellowcraigs beach, eventually making our way back to Dirleton village and our transport home.
‘Barefoot Wanders’ was a perfect way to end a very busy term at school and mark the beginning of the Easter holidays with fresh air, exercise, great company and good conversation and most importantly, for me to spend some quality time bonding with my daughter in the great outdoors. Thank you Anna for organising and making it such a memorable experience.