Having completed the 26 miles of the 3 Peaks Challenge aged just eight, Alastair Humphreys graduated adventure class by spending four years cycling 46,000 miles around the world, and taking in 60 countries along the way.

He has since walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic and run the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert (also known as the toughest race in the world). He's also an accomplished author and his 2014 book, Microadventures, received rave reviews (not least from us).

Hi Alastair. Tell us about how you got into the adventure scene...?

I began by reading books (Ranulph Fiennes, Shackleton and Benedict Allen) and dreaming. When I was 24 I decided to take action and do a big trip. I set off on my bike and spent four years cycling round the world, and after that I was hooked!

Adventure adds colour, context, excitement and perspective to my life. I love the wilderness and I love challenging myself and learning about the world and myself.

What three tips would you have for people interested in doing what you do?

Don't make the mistake of thinking that 'professional' adventurers are in some way better or tougher than you. Anyone can do this stuff.

Start small - if you try to plan something too big then you probably won't get round to ever starting. That's the essence of microadventures.

Finally, don't procrastinate. Sleep on a hill this weekend, or at least before the end of the month. If you want it enough you can make it happen. That's the best advice I've ever been given - to BEGIN! Start before you are ready.

Great advice. What has been your most life changing adventure?

Cycling round the world - it made me realise that I was capable for more than I knew. Anyone can do this stuff!

My adventures have taught me that most people are decent. There is a lot of wilderness left in the world and life is short. It's foolish not to start living in a fulfilling way immediately.

So where should people start? What micro-adventures would you recommend?

Swimming down a river or out to an island on a lake is an easy place to start.

That's something that should be on everyone's bucket list - swim in a river in England, at a beach in Wales, and in a high mountain lochan in Scotland.

There are quite a few wild swimming books and I'm a fan of them all. I love swimming because it gives you a different perspective on the landscape - because it's a bit silly, and because you feel so good afterwards.

Talking of books, what's the one must-read book you'd recommend?

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. I love his carefree attitude to life and his perceptive observation of the world. He'd have been my ideal travel companion.

What's the next adventure for you?

I'm heading to a 'dark sky area' to bivvy out under the August meteor shower.

Ah, the Perseids - one of your 'Year of Microadventure' experiences we notice. What about your bigger adventures, how do you plan those?

It's a combination of spontaneity, places I have never been, fun stuff I've seen on social media, and upcoming events (full moons etc).

Is there anywhere in the UK that you keep going back to?

The Highlands of Scotland - Assynt, Torridon, and the Islands. Magic!

Some of my favourite Highlands memories are of staying in remote bothies. I love the combination of the wilderness, the physical effort to get there, and then the way that a very simple stone shelter can feel incredibly luxurious. It's a simple form of happiness.

The simple things in life are some of the best, we agree. Where's your favourite off-the-beaten-track spot?


Short and sweet! That's one of Scotland's most distinctive mountains for readers who aren't familiar. What about your favourite view?

The view down to Wasdale Head from Scafell is my favourite. I want to live in that hamlet one day.

Tell us about some of your favourite memories...?

The best is hard to choose. I'll plump for waking in my bivvy bag on a hilltop in Dorset. There was an enormous full moon and the valley below way filled with mist.

The worst is also hard to choose, but three months in a bad tent and rubbish sleeping bag at -40 in Siberia would be quite high on my list!

Brrr! What one thing do you wish someone would invent to make your trips easier?

Lightweight water.

Ooh, that'd be a popular one for sure. What about favourite gadgets? Is there anything you always take with you on a trip?

My camera. I love taking pictures, but also sharing stories is my job.

Finally, what's your favourite campfire meal?

Baba ghanoush - grill the aubergines straight on the hot coals.

Thanks Alastair, it has been a pleasure!

Alastair is a man on a mission. His Year of Microadventure is a great way of pausing our busy lives and making a once-a-month effort to force yourself outside to enjoy one of life's simple pleasures. Find out more.

If that sounds like your sort of thing, you might also enjoy his blog or following him on Twitter.