Backyard beauty

It’s easy to take your own backyard for granted, overlook beauty and local interest in favour of more exotic destinations. Certainly it’s something I’m guilty of, especially when I mostly head out on two wheels – the relative speed and efficiency of the bike promotes travel farther afield.

For this wild camp I decided to keep it local, venturing out on foot in the midst of thundery April showers (in the middle of May) that felt more like a mini monsoon. Along the way I learned a bit of history about my home town and witnessed sights and sounds that I certainly wouldn’t have from my bedroom…

I’ve walked and ridden past this marker many times never paying it much attention. After a little Google research I discovered that it marked the boundary of Hythe and Saltwood, placed as part of a process called “Beating the Bounds”.

The stone is, in fact a boundary marker between the parish of Hythe and Saltwood. Every so often the fifteen mile boundary is walked by a group of local people led by the mayor – Beating the Bounds. If a boundary stone is found to be missing or decayed, it is replaced and bears the name of the current mayor. So ‘HTC’ is Hythe Town Council, ‘Taylor’ was the name of the mayor in 1934 when a Beating the Bounds took place.

Anne Petrie, Hythe History

My actual campsite was less than a half mile from my doorstep which seemed a pitiful distance to walk. I detoured through the nearby Country Park to wait out the worst of the weather under a handy little shelter used for their team building and school teaching activities.

After 20 or so minutes there was no sign of the rain abating so I trudged on the last mile, up into a small parcel of woodland where I spotted a Fox setting off on the evening’s hunt. Clearly the weather wasn’t slowing him down as he shot off like a rocket before I even had chance to get my camera out for a quick snap.

Arriving at my spot, I set about making camp. I’d brought my Warbonnet Blackbird XLC Hammock – a bit of luxury was in order after slumming it on the ground the first four camps of this year – and of course no sooner had I got my tarp set the rain passed and gave way to a clear and fresh evening.

The tiny patch of woodland was beautiful – bedecked with late season bluebells and overlooking a field of noisy sheep (for creatures so fluffy and gentle by day, they really do great impressions of zombies by night!) – but it was after dark when the real magic happened.

Looking up through the tree canopy at the crystal clear sky, I first spotted a satellite (always a highlight for me) before being joined by two very noisy room mates

The pair of owls swooped in from across the nearby field, came screeching past my hammock, landed in the trees above then set off again, no doubt in search of a furry supper.

Despite the eventful night, I slept well in the hammock, a tad under insulated having chosen my 2 season bag but fortunately the Wooki underquilt pulled it’s (light) weight and ensured I stayed cosy until dawn.

A quick blast of coffee courtesy of the Bialetti then time to pack up, feeling refreshed and with a renewed sense of appreciation for this little patch of Earth that I call home.


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