Planning started a week or so before, over a coffee at work. Mark and I identified a few possible locations depending on what the weather was likely to do..
For good weather we wanted to take on a hill top, and if it was looking wet or windy we would seek the shelter of the woods, and string up a Tarp for shelter.
In the days leading up to our microadventure most forecasts were showing it was likely to be wet, so from previous trips out with the hammock I knew of a nice piece of woodland where we could stay. So we got prepped and headed out to the wood.
It was a short walk to the woods from the car park, the ground felt damp underfoot, as we made our way across the fields. We stopped a few times to listen out for any human noises.. A quad bike rumbled around in the distance, by far the biggest noise was what sounded like most of West Berkshire’s pheasant population getting ready to roost for the night, it seemed to be from the wood we had chosen to spend the night (at this stage we renamed the wood to Pheasant wood) We continued into the wood line, fresh quad bike tracks leading to a bird feeding station were visible in the mud, someone must have been through here in the last few hours.. This all leads to the “will someone stumble over us in the night” thoughts. There was a footpath through the middle of the wood, from which we moved off by about 15m.
We quickly strung up the Tarp, with minimal noise or disruption.. We tried to keep a low profile, only using our torches when we needed the extra light. I’d packed the Alpkit Rig21 Tarp, which, till now hadn’t been used.. I have to admit, I didn’t realise just how big it was! For just two of us it seemed cavernous!
As we had only had a short walk we decided to treat ourselves with a bottle of red and some nice cheeses. Sat quietly in the woods the wine tasted good with the cheese (although the red was a little too cool) We took a few pics to record the night, and turned in.. All the time quite conscious that we could be awakened in the night by an angry game keeper. As it was a Friday night, there would most likely be a Saturday shoot happening.. The keepers wouldn’t like the birds to be hidden away, which would likely mean that the quad would be back early to move the birds down into the cover.. So we decided to make an early start, and would have our brew nearby..
Morning arrived and reality struck.. .My Wee Airic inflatable mattress was no longer inflated.. it was time to admit that his 8 years’ service was over.. I also should have checked my sleeping area better as I has also had the company of a “snuggle stick” which turns out to be not so snuggly at 3am.. We packed down the tarp and sleeping kit quickly and exited the wood as dawn was breaking. We walked across the dimly lit fields, which looked very different a few hours before.
We brewed breakfast close by, taking in the fantastic views across West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Southern Oxfordshire… wondering how many other people were out, enjoying their morning coffee after their own microadventure. Upon reflection it was another good night out. Mark’s second in the bivi bag..
We’ve already started to think about the next trip out, and where that will take us.. I’d like to look to do a journey, maybe on the bike next…