Inspired by Alastair Humphreys Summer Solstice Microadventure Challenge (& the chance to win some free gear!), on Friday 21st June, I packed a bag & along with my friend Dave headed out the door & towards the North Downs for what would be my first proper attempt at bivvying (essentially camping but without the tent), choosing to ditch the canvas & truly sleep out under the stars in what is essentially a waterproof sleeping bag cover. Whilst bivvying does have a downside (higher chance of getting wet if it rains compared to a tent!), this is more than outweighed by the amazing feeling of truly being out in the elements, feeling every breath of wind, catching every scent of flower or grass, staring up at endless star filled skies & just generally experiencing nature to its fullest.
With Dave having prior commitments that evening, we set off late but being the longest day the sky was light until long into the night and that coupled with the fact that we were hiking our local area meant that navigation was easy and we soon arrived at our destination. We had originally planned to sleep in amongst the ruins of an old castle on the top of the Downs but having seen the view over Maidstone from a nearby field we decided to make camp here & watch the bright Friday night lights from afar.
Although it afforded us an amazing view, our bivvy spot on the hillside was somewhat exposed to the elements, with quite high winds meaning we did not get a peaceful nights sleep. Thankfully the rain held off until the morning by which time we dragged our bleary eyed selves over to a small, unused animal shelter where I was able to get the stove on and rustle up a tin of all day breakfast.
Refueled, we hit the trail, following the North Downs Way east, towards Broad Street, before heading back down towards the Bearsted Woodland Trust. The pace quickened as we approached Bearsted, I’m sure this had something to do with the promise of a home cooked full english (or rather full Irish) cooked by my better half, what a legend!
All in we’d covered just over 20k, nothing major but we came back feeling (& probably smelling) like we’d been on a grand, multi week expedition & yet all it had cost us was a couple of quids worth of supplies (food, drink & some camping gas) & a night away from the pub or telly.
Check out the video I made of the trip below.