After taking a career break in my mid 20s to roam around South America without a plan, I reluctantly returned to a banking job in London. At first I was glad to be home, not having to live out of a backpack, sleeping in my own bed, and being able to catch up with friends and family in person. However, after a few months, and once the cold, dark wintery days started to takeover, I got itchy feet, and knew I needed to find a way to satisfy my wanderlust closer to home. Thats when I started to look into microgaps. 

What is a Microgap?

Essentially a microgap is the best bits of a gap year in just a few days. It’s the opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone, develop new skills, and learn how to deal with unique situations. All these experiences are possible in England, in a short amount of time, without the need to take a year off or hop on a plane.

hiking in Peak District on a Microgap
Taking my colleagues on a hiking day trip to Bamford edge in the Peak District

What kind of Microgap can you experience?

England is a treasure trove of experiences, there are plenty of ways to ramp up the adrenaline and be inspired on a Microgap. I suggest being creative and combining ideas from below to produce an itinerary thats perfect for you.

Go Wild on a Microgap

Get outside, push yourself, and have an adventure right in your backyard. Examples of wild microgaps that I’ve done in the past are, hiking in Castleton, Peak District, surfing in Bournemouth, mountain biking in Box Hill and paddle boarding on the River Great Ouse.

Learn More on a Microgap

Get creative, and learn something new. This could be anything from cocktail making in Bristol, to glass blowing in Bath, flower arranging in Battersea or learning survival skills in Kent. You might surprise yourself and find a new passion, much like I did with mosaic making five years ago.

Switch off on a Microgap

Everyone needs to press pause on their daily lives at some point. England has plenty of opportunities to switch off and go on a hike, road trip through the villages in the Cotswolds, join a yoga class or even stargaze, just one of the things to do in Alnwick. Make sure to take a moment for yourself and turn off your phone. As someone whose always been too attached to their phone, I thought a digital detox would be impossible. However, after an overnight digital detox in Bedford last year, I’ve thankfully learnt to put away my devices more often.

Give Back on a Microgap

Do something positive and improve the world around you. Find experiences that are all about giving back to the community and the environment. Be creative, think beach clean ups, learning how to upcycle clothes or even being a beekeeper for the day.

canoeing along canal on a microgap
Peaceful views along the canal
Photo by Tales of a Backpacker

Despite my past Microgaps always being based around going wild, I jumped at the chance to join VisitEngland and a group of bloggers on another wild Microgap to Sheffield.

Going Wild on #MyMicrogap in Sheffield

You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth to explore your wild side. Earlier this month, I travelled two hours by train to the northern city of Sheffield. Dubbed “The Outdoor City”, it is one of the greenest in England, with a third of its territory within the Peak District. As a result, the city is great for an action packed weekend, where you can take to the water or the hills.

What we got upto on our Microgap

Having arrived in the city centre, it only took fifteen minutes to walk to Victoria Quays. A quaint area on the waters edge, filled with apartments and independent businesses, including The Dorothy Pax.

The canal front bar acted as our base for the day. The plan was to spend three or four hours on the water exploring the area by paddle board and canoe with DC Outdoors. Stopping in the middle to swap activities and enjoy lunch at the Dorothy Pax.

We began by kitting up and after a selfie or two, we split into groups to start our wild adventure.

18 people in life vests taking selfie
18 creators all coming together to Go Wild. Photo by Pocket Trailblazer

As an experienced paddle boarder I went first and enjoyed a morning drifting along the canal. We tried a few yoga moves and even lay down on the boards so we could pass under a pedestrian foot bridge.

The morning flew by, and thankfully everyone stayed dry. Even the beginners who weren’t as confident starting off, felt much more stable by the end of the session. We packed away our boards and hungrily headed over to the Dorothy Pax for a homemade vegan lunch. Unsurprisingly, I devoured the entire thali way too quickly, and had to relax before heading back onto the canal.

Luckily, the afternoon was all about sitting still and taking in the surroundings. After pairing up we took our canoes to a section of the canal that we hadn’t explored on the paddle boards. The area was surprisingly green, and much less urban than I expected, considering we were just around the corner from Sheffield’s city centre.

girl canoeing on canal in Sheffield
@pockettrailblazer canoeing along a canal in Sheffield

After a few hours we headed back to the Dorothy Pax for some drinks and a spot of carrot cake. Exhausted but smiling, we ended the day with another group photo, before returning to London, having made new friends in a new environment.

The experience has pushed me to plan my next microgaps in England. Have you ever taken a Microgap, or are you thinking of taking one? Please leave your suggestions below, I’d love to be inspired!

The group of people

This article is sponsored by VisitEngland but as always opinions are mine. Special thanks to Visit Sheffield, DC Outdoors, East Midlands Railway and The Dorothy Pax for making the day possible.

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