It has been years since I last spent a night outdoors under the stars! Too long in fact.

Yes we do the camping thing… Well ok for the last 5 years or so I have had a beautiful 1975 VW T2, so it’s been more van life than tent life. Still it’s being outdoors that counted and yes I absolutely count it.

That said I sold my beloved van in April, it was a wrench to put her on the market and I would not have parted with her to anyone who couldn’t love her as much as I did. I even said as much to some of the people who came to view her. We settled in the end on a chap from France who fell in love with her original interior, paintwork and authentic 40 year old self.  She really didn’t pretend to be anything that she wasn’t.

I digress…. this post isn’t about the loss of my van but more the regaining of my youth. Over 20 years ago I last camped outdoors and even though I have been growing bolder and braver in the last decade it took one almighty ‘deep breath’ to push myself to sleep outdoors – wild and free.

It also helped that my friend Jess wanted to get out again too.

How does a conversation like this start?

I had messaged Jess at the weekend to arrange a catch up, knowing that I wanted to ask if she fancied helping me tick off one of my 2017 goals. I had not managed to get up the courage to wild camp on my own and I could not, for love nor money, persuade my other half to join me! Knowing Jess as I do, I felt the call of a mad micro adventure would be just up her street.

I was right – in-fact we surprised even ourselves by arranging to camp the very next weekend!

This sent me off into a flat spin and of course, when I had calmed down, a quick trip to the local outdoors shop to buy a bivvy bag. We gave ourselves just 4 days to get organised. No time to duck out but plenty of time to purchase a few pieces of kit and spend a few night worrying and wondering what on earth we were doing.

We felt that all we needed was to ‘Do It’ – get the basics right and find a place that was local yet out of the way from any potential late night dog walkers.

We set off on rather a windy but thankfully dry afternoon. Trying out a few spots for size, looking at views and of course shelter, we walked around the hill near our home. Our choice of spot was relative to the local pub where we were going to have our tea. We weren’t even going to brew a cuppa, thats how minimal we decided to go.  After Sunday roast at the Rising Sun we left our cars in the car park and headed back out on to the hill to find our spot.

It was dark by now and leaving the warmth of the pub as well as my husband and two daughters gave me a slight pang of nerves.  What were we doing?  Was this totally sane?

Too late to back out we walked the 30 or so minutes to the place we had ‘sussed out’ earlier.  Our only dismay was that in plotting the route we had taken a path that now looked to go right past a group of teenagers all happily doing whatever teenagers these days get up to!  Back tracking a little and guided by the now ever present moonlight we trekked a slightly different way to our base.

It was relatively straight forward and our make-shift camp for the night was decidedly sturdy. Having never pitched a shelter before – other than a few blankets over a clothes horse for a ‘den’ using only pegs as a source of pinning down the linen. We were quite proud of ourselves.

Successfully erecting the shelter in the dark we set about taking photo’s and cracking open the provisions – chocolate and sloe gin being the choice for tonights adventure. It keeps out the cold don’t you know.

Giggling and chatting amiably we snuggled ourselves into the sleeping bags and bivvies to see how we would fare overnight.


For me sleep came and went. It wasn’t a difficult nights sleep, just different. Alert to the many sounds around me, I simply had one part of your mind open to what was going on. Moving around in your sleep is common but when you are as snug as a bug in a rug (or sleeping bag) then this does pose a few problems. I rolled down the slope a few times, the last time waking to the shelter flapping on my face! Yet I didn’t feel totally uncomfortable or even cold during the night. After all this was October the 1st so I expected a little bit of coldness on my extremities.

When we finally awoke at 6:30 it felt normal to be getting up. We packed the shelter and our belongings into our bags and headed up to higher ground. Better to see the sunrise.

It wasn’t that impressive first thing, which was unfortunate. We headed back to our cars in order to get to work and on with our day. Despite not seeing the sunrise through the morning mist I felt a real sense of achievement. A micro adventure ticked off.

I have a huge list of things that I want to make sure I do next time – not least find a flatter piece of ground to sleep on and tea and coffee provisions for the morning would be most welcome. Overall though it was a success.

Now I said I didn’t see the sunrise… I lied a little. I walked back to the van and threw in my overnight kit. I sat before leaving just texting my husband and making sure I said good morning to the girls before I drove off down the hill. Whilst I did this the mist was clearing behind me. I drove out the car park feeling disappointed until I realised that I had not actually missed it! It was still there to be witnessed. I turned full around and parked back up on the hill. I took off from the van (remembering to lock it first) and ran full pelt up the hill. The sunrise was there just waiting for me. I know the photo doesn’t do it justice. The sky was a beautiful golden colour that warmed my face.

Now I could smile properly – it shouldn’t have taken the sun to come out to make me smile, but there is something special about sleeping under the stars then seeing this majesty unfold.

I finished the morning with a quick live on my page – the months topic was after all ‘Putting life into your days!’ and what could be better than witnessing a morning like this to kick it all off.


If you are reading this thinking you want to give wild camping a try then I thoroughly recommend it.  Find a friend who is willing to spend the night with you and find a spot close to home. We were right on our doorstep. Just a mile or so from any house or road. I packed light and with minimal spend. The only extra to my existing camping kit was a bivvy bag I bought for £20 and Jess borrowed the ’emergency shelter’ from a friend. It took just 6 tent pegs and two walking poles – but you could use long sticks if you so needed.


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