Last week the mercury dipped below zero and we had our first covering of snow in a couple of years. Nothing on the scale of the ‘Snowzilla’ storm that hit the US this week, but enough for the local kids to at least make a snowman or two.
So what better time to decide on an overnight adventure camping out?
Without a tent?
To begin at the genesis of this particular harebrained plan; a few weeks ago in my rooting about for info on potential hikes for TBW and I in the spring I happened across a short video by guy called Alastair Humphreys. It was just about doing something interesting, something you enjoy, without it having to be a huge undertaking. I was enjoying the film all quite nicely, thank you very much, sitting on my sofa with my arse and cup of coffee and a biscuit. And then he uttered this line:
“This is it, now, this is your life. Tick tock, tick tock”.
Well that struck a chord with the hippy me.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to last tuesday. With clear skies and the temperature at freezing point I found myself locking my front door behind me at 10pm, shouldering my pack and heading out of town.
I wandered through the sleepy housing estates, windows warmly lit as people watched the 10 o’clock news, my breath forming long vapour plumes behind me in the orange sodium street lights as I walked. Houses, dogwalkers and street lamps gradually dwindling to be replaced by farm buildings, unidentified rustling in fields and the cold clear glow of moonlight. Up a couple of country lanes devoid of traffic and through a last tiny village. Almost there.
I had a place in mind for my overnighter, I’d spotted it a couple of weeks before on a walk around the local paths (that time, more sensibly, in the daylight). It was at the top of a small hill (where I live is, at best, gently rolling countryside) overlooking the town. I’d hoped that in darkness the view would be good – I mean, who doesn’t like an elevated view of a town at night, right?
So I left the thin strip of tarmac behind and headed off along the footpath, grass and remnants of snow crunching under my boots. And then I was there, in my room for the night. Moonlit, cold, beautiful. The hill dropping down into a small wooded valley before rising to another smaller hill beyond. The warmth of the orange glow from the town in the distance. I thought about the people watching TV as I rolled out my bag and mat on a relatively flat piece of ground.
I crawled into my bag and lay cocooned in warmth, watching the stars until I fell asleep.
I woke just before dawn. It had clouded over a little through the night but I was quite cheerful to be waking up outside. I packed my gear, wandered a little further down towards the valley and found a spot to have a coffee and porridge whilst watching the sun come up.
I have a plan to find a stove top coffee pot for next time. Life is too short for sachets of nescafe.
And then it was time to head back home. With the benefit of daylight I was able to walk back via footpaths almost to my front door, nowhere near as cold as I’d expected to be and very happy with my lot. The miles passed in what felt like seconds.
Tick tock, tick tock.