Aled BathChief Outdoor Officer for Stohk beer. When not behind the Stohk bar, Aled can often be found down a muddy track, writing and photographing gravel bike adventures. Prone to overpacking and taking the scenic route.
#ShortDayOut is a community project established by the outdoor beer company Stohk and supported by a collective of UK-based outdoor brands including us here at BASE. The inaugural event took place in the run up to the 2021 Winter Solstice between 18th and 21st December. Below, Stohk founder Aled shares the inspiration behind the project and some of your photo highlights and stories from the shortest days of the year.
@roffsmith found the perfect excuse to capture one of his favourite lanes. “A foggy mid-winter morning gave these old sunken Sussex lanes an added air of intrigue and mystery as we approach the shortest day of the year,” he says. “I went out for seven hours yesterday exploring in the fog and came back feeling as though I had an adventure – and in need of a pot of hot coffee!”
The origins of Short Day Out were pretty simple. Born out of our own passion for being outside and, if we’re honest, the mental struggle so many of us face due to the lack of daylight at this time of year.
In any normal year, it is of course the time we see the least amount of daylight so I’m always conscious to try and make the most of the opportunities to get outside. Come mid-November last year though I was certainly feeling a little less motivated than usual. Like many people, I had a sense that maybe I was suffering from a distinct lack of vitamin D, following a couple of years of on-and-off lockdowns, working at home and even resorting to indoor cycling.
Maybe it’s just cloudier than usual, I thought. Actually, I might have been onto something because December 2021 turned out to be one of the dullest since records began with a paltry 26.6 hours of sunshine recorded in the whole month in the UK.
But then it sparked an idea: maybe I just need to get out more. What if I tried to make the most of every drop of daylight on these short days? Sure the days may be short but that’s still 8 hours for an adventure. And that kind of made sense to me because everything is always better outside – that’s always been a constant in my life.
Snowdonia put on a show for Dan Yates and @milo_appy from @saveourrivers to remind us all just how beautiful Snowdonia can be.
Maybe I just need to get out more. What if I tried to make the most of every drop of daylight on these short days?
I immediately started thinking of cool things I could do, and started chatting with the other Stohk Founders to see if they were up for it. They didn’t need any convincing, they felt exactly the same. A few calls later BASE were on-board, and friends from some like-minded UK outdoor companies were also getting stoked about the idea of the inaugural Short Day Out. The idea was set, between the 18th and 21st December we’d encourage people to make the most of the shortest days of the year and get outside for as long as the daylight, their time or head-torches permitted. Open to everyone and all activities, you could run it, walk your dog, get paddling or simply jump in the water. All you had to do was get out there and share your adventure – the rest was up to you.
Over the period we ran #ShortDayOut we had some amazingly varied adventures shared on social media from all sorts of weather. People were blessed with amazing cloud inversions, sunshine and full moons while others were lucky if they caught a break in the mist or the clouds. But from all over there were some inspirational stories of people making the most of their time outside. Whatever the weather it seemed like it was just what people were looking for and the perfect inspiration to fuel many future solstice adventures.
We can’t wait for more folk to join in next time and experience the benefits of getting out there at all times of the year.
Reece Cooper /@ReeceBCooper and Jack Matthews / @jack.tries.hard ripping it up high above Froggatt.
“Still amazes me that this was Jack’s second time leading trad and he smashed the route out like it was nothing and even had time to stop for a no hands rest and to enjoy the view,” says Reece. “Thats what you get for taking strong sport climbers out to gods rock. A mix of run out placements and technique galore.”
Mat Price / @matprice was one of the many folk to catch amazing cloud inversions in North Wales with this stunning shot of Y Lliwedd rising from the clouds in Snowdonia.
“I’m not going to forget this morning for a long time,” says Mat. “For about 4 years I’ve wanted a shot like this. I’ve spent hours and hours studying the weather and had many failed attempts and results I wasn’t happy with. Finally, on Friday morning it paid off! I think this is my favourite photo I’ve ever taken, partly because it’s fucking beautiful but also because of the work and commitment that has gone into it, which is often never seen but all a part of it.”
Craig Bunyan / @bunyancraig got amongst it on his local gravel loop
Ross Mallen / @rossmallen when huge with his ride home for Christmas, reccying some of the GBDuro 2022 route on the way racking up an amazing 880 km. Much of it was done under cover of darkness and pushing through many miles of pea soup.
@WildCycles put on an amazing ride with some epic Ridgeway magic.
Josie Jones / @findingnivolet jumped straight off a long shift working for the NHS onto her SUP for an amazing moonlight paddle adventure.
Back down nearer sea-level wild swimmers were out in force with Izzy Wild / @Isabellawildchild adding some festive spirit to proceedings
and in Scotland @theoutdooralex getting this amazing sunrise swim.
#ShortDayOut got people excited all over the world with the inspirational @jamesonthefront picking it up in Canada with these dreamy skies.
Sarah Edwards / @saraheadwards9 won the main prize bundle for making the most of every hour of daylight running, walking and paddling around her local beaches.
@StohkOfficial led thing’s out on 21st with Matt Fee / @mattfee heading out for a frosty one over in the Netherlands.
While BASE Editor @huntchrisdown and @dantkeevill rode from Bristol to Portland Bill in search of a pint and sustenance.
There was plenty of climbing with Benjamin Sutton / @cornishboyindevon pulling some shapes up on Dartmoor.
Up in Scotland @aindriu_b didn’t let nightfall stop him lighting up night skies with a late one.
“Been trying to do a bit more night riding this winter to build a bit of confidence when it comes to next year’s plans,” he says. “That, and it’s just really fun. Makes the trails you ride all the time feel so very different.”
@VeloAdventuresCardiff mixed up gravel ‘n pavé and a big climb summiting the Devil’s Elbow for a solstice century.
“Cold start, low cloud, no views, then as we neared the summit of the Devil’s Elbow, blue skies emerged, warming chilled hands and charging enthusiasm,” says Nic from Velo Adventures. “Coffee and cakes at the Brecon beacons visitor centre, before a bone chilling descent to Brecon. No stopping, onto Talybont and glimpses of lofty summits when the cloud cleared. Tiring legs and dropping energies meant a MaccyD’s cheese burger and cuppa was required in Merthyr. A solid days ride, lots of gravel, chilly extremities and fab views and great company … Thanks David.”
Huge thanks to the supporters of #ShortDayOut 2021: