My first night out alone

It was very sunny in Scotland! But I work 9-5 (7.30-6 if you include the commute). The solution was a microadventure: an overnight bivvy, but Chris had been away most of the week, which meant I would have to go by myself!

I’ve never even camped by myself before so that was a pretty scary idea, but also quite exciting.

I decided to go somewhere I was very familiar with, ie. Dumyat, which is our local little hill.

I got home at 6pm, had dinner, packed and left on my bike in the sunshine at 8pm. I left my bike at the foot of the hill and walked up through the woods, which were a beautiful sea of bluebells – I didn’t realise there were so many up here, I mistakenly thought they were an English thing.

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Sitting on a hump above the trees, I watched the sun set behind the mountains in the distance and read my book, enjoying the peace.

By 10pm the sun had gone and I was cold despite my insulated jacket and gloves. As I was nervous, I thought very carefully while choosing where to sleep: I had decided I would prefer to be out in the open rather than in the trees. I eventually picked a spot on the exposed side of the hill, but a slight shelf meant I was protected from some of the wind by a small lip. I had a view of Stirling and the Wallace Monument, which meant that if I woke up disoriented in the dark, I would be able to focus on the lights. I also get freaked out by noises in a very quiet tent, so I knew I’d be comforted by the road sounds, which, although less peaceful, would cover any scary (sheep) noises close by.

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I settled into my bivvy bag, quickly warmed up and watched the lights of Stirling come on. Cloud was creeping over Dumyat behind me. I felt surprisingly relaxed and it only took me a while to fall asleep because I was so curious to look around and kept opening my eyes to watch the landscape change as night fell.

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With my bivvy bag (Alpkit), sleeping mat (Robens), down sleeping bag (Alpkit), silk liner (Rab), fluffy socks and thin jacket (Rab Vapour-rise) I was soon super snuggly and surprisingly didn’t get cold at all during the night.

I did wake up a few times but overall I slept much better than I expected. I woke up and checked for a sunrise at around 5am, but seeing only cloud, fell back to sleep until my alarm woke me at 7!

Opening my eyes to a lovely view meant I couldn’t help but wake up in a good mood. A cup of tea from my flask before getting up made it even better!

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Good morning!

 

What better way to start a working day?! And doing it solo made it extra special: I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering it!

Sadly, I’ll now have to wait until the autumn to do it again as I’m definitely not bivvying in midge season!

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Microadventure: A night under one star

The weather in Scotland had been beautiful all week and was set to continue over the weekend, however I really needed to work on my PhD thesis. So  Chris suggested that if I worked during the day on Saturday,  we could go and spend the night on Dumyat, which is our local hill.

We packed our things after dinner and drove the van to Stirling University campus where we parked it….in case the midges were awful and we had to retreat from the hill! We found a nice spot part of the way up that caught the sun as it was setting, but would also allow us to see the sunrise.

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From about 9pm the temperature dropped quickly and I soon regretted leaving my down jacket at home, but it was nice to relax with a cider (and beer for Chris).

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At about 10.30pm, we were cold and decided it was time to unpack our beds. Choosing a spot for bivvying is quite strange: which patch of grass do we like most? On top of the bank where we have the view, but catch the wind so it might be chilly, or lower down where we will be more sheltered? But sheltered might mean midges! Which patch has fewest lumps, is flattest, and has the least sheep poo?

Then you have the “should I have my sleeping mat inside or outside of my bivvy bag?” dilemma. Apparently this depends on your bivvy bag: my Robens Primacore sleeping mat fitted perfectly inside my Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag, until I tried to get in too….I could not move at all! In contrast, Chris was comfortable with his Exped DownMat Light 5 inside his Rab Storm bivvy bag. At 11pm when we were in our sleeping bags, it was still light enough to see perfectly. It was also a bit cloudy, so rather than being able to lie and look at the stars,we had to make-do with the single star that was visible.

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I was surprisingly warm and comfortable, but the cool breeze on your face and the strange noises makes for broken sleep. I woke up startled by a particularly loud noise at one point, only to realise it was just a sheep. Even then, it still wasn’t very dark. At 4.50am, it was daylight again and I could no longer deny that I needed a wee, but after that we slept on until 7.20 am! This was despite the light, and the walkers and runners who were up VERY early for a Sunday morning.

We didn’t get to see the sunrise though: we were completely surrounded by cloud, so the view while we shared our Bran Flakes for breakfast was not as pretty as we had anticipated.

However, it was a good little microadventure that nicely broke up my PhD weekend.