It had been too long since my last overnight camp, the first half of my week’s annual leave had been marred with gale force winds and rain but I was determined to get at least one “hang” in the bag before re-chaining myself to my desk.
Eschewing the bike in favour of hiking boots, I followed a well worn path up to my regular haunt. Clambering up the scarp slope of the North Downs to be rewarded with glorious views of the English Channel and Romney Marsh sprawling below me, the view amplified by the equally glorious early Autumn sunshine.
I’m familiar with these woods now and have my preferred spot to hang. Although the terrain is open providing limited cover, this particular patch is relatively quiet and when the sun shines the light dances and plays across the forest floor and through the trees.
The weather was with me today and I considered forgoing the tarp altogether but erred on the side of caution – this being the UK in Autumn after all – and opted for a slanted A frame, giving exquisite views from the hammock. As night drew in, I sat mesmerised by the fire, rising only occasionally to check on my supper.
I drifted off to the sounds of a party in one of the nearby farmhouses, clearly different approaches to “Friday Night”. Awaking briefly at around 2am to a deathly silent forest save for a pair of owls out hunting, I soon settled back into my warm cocoon and slept soundly until around 6am, my slumber stirred only by the start of the woodland dawn chorus.
I stayed a while, soaking up the morning atmosphere and enjoyed surprising a couple of early morning dog walkers but alas I couldn’t avoid the inevitable return to civilisation. Some say that time outdoors is good for resetting, for making you appreciate home comforts a little more and returning to work feeling refreshed. Not me, I wish I could stay.