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Who needs a 5-star hotel?

I didn’t want to go to sleep last night. I was layered up in thermals, sleeping bag and bivvy bag, snug as a bug in a rug, watching the stars slowly wheel across the sky.

Of course, I didn’t notice the wheeling, but something else special was going on. The stars did not appear to be a uniform distance away; instead, some seemed closer and some further away. I have never noticed this before – have you?

Lying still, I slowly tuned in to nature around me. Small rustles in the undergrowth, the occasional peep of a bird, the sea rippling into the shore. Intermittent clicking. Clicking? My brain whirred, trying to place the sound. Death-watch beetle? Spiders plotting my demise? I hope not!

And then I saw it, just a fleeting glimpse as it darted through the sky above me. A bat. I used to be able to hear the high-pitched sounds of bats when I was younger, but this was much lower-pitched and faster. Echolocation? The internet tells me that’s not possible, but if not that, then what? The sound seemed to belong to the bat. I was clearly attracting flies, as it flitted above me for quite some time. I let out an involuntary shriek of surprise when it appeared from nowhere, just a few centimetres above my face. Wow – what a sight!

The last sight before sleep overcame my wonder was a shooting star, bright, wide and languid, in view for almost a second before it disappeared.

Who needs a 5-star hotel when you can sleep under a million stars instead?

Fancy bivvying (camping without a tent) yourself? Here’s what I learnt from this #microadventure:

  1. This was the first time I have bivvied on my own. I was reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of my house, but it was worth it when I did. Lesson: Have faith and take that uncomfortable step – the rewards can be magnificent!

  2. My ‘breathable’ bivvy bag is not – it became very wet on the inside and my sleeping bag was drenched on the outside. Luckily, my sleeping bag is pretty water resistant and was still warm and dry on the inside. I knew what was happening, but didn’t worry about it because I was less than a mile from home – if I got cold and wet, I could always head back to my warm bed. Lesson: It’s worth testing your equipment before you’re in hostile territory.

  3. I put the camping mattress inside my bivvy bag because I have read that’s better for keeping your back dry. My back did stay dry, but when it started to spit with rain, I automatically turned over so the rain would run off the bivvy bag. Because of the sleeping mat, the bag did not turn with me, which made it difficult to keep the hood of my sleeping bag dry. Next time, I’m going to try putting the bag on top of the sleeping mat and see how it goes. Lesson: Try things out for yourself to see what works best for you.

Check out Cicerone’s Book of the Bivvy for tales of bivvying adventure and practical advice from Ronald Turnbull, who has far more experience than I do.

And for some bivvying inspiration, check out Russ Moorhouse’s Instagram.

If you have things on your bucket list that you’re not sure how to tackle, you might find my book useful - Live Your Bucket List: Simple Steps to Ignite Your Dreams, Face Your Fears and Lead an Extraordinary Life, Starting Today.


Buy my books:

  • Live Your Bucket List

  • Cycling King Alfred’s Way: A Piece of Cake?

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Sep 30, 2022

great article - joy in bivvying under stars

Replying to

It was incredible. So glad I got back before this storm arrived!

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