Bivvying in.. January anyone?

It was 7:30pm on an unseasonally warm yet still pretty chilly Friday evening in January when I rushed out to meet some lovely folk on top of a local hill.

Friday/Saturday is always super busy for me at the moment. It’s when everything happens for my organic veg box business - I visit our suppliers, pack orders, run our volunteering programme and do home deliveries. As a result I tend to avoid planning evenings out and instead opt for mid-week or Sundays.

But I have a confession - it had been 6 months since my last camp out, and I was getting itchy (soon to be very cold) feet.

When Jason posted in the Yes Tribe for a camp out a couple of weeks later in January I knew I had to be there. I’d never camped out in the colder months before so it would be a great opportunity to test my hardiness and experience bivvying in different conditions.

But I wasn’t the only one. The Yes Tribe are a bunch of awesome people who naturally get stuck in with a big fat HELL YES! when the opportunity presents it’s self. There were even some first-timers opting for January to be the start of their bivvying experiences.

Luckily the mid-January spell of proper winter weather had just passed (checkout Jason’s recky the weekend before where he woke up to a dusting of snow!) and we were lucky enough to have temperatures above freezing with dry weather.

Photo credit: Jason Webber

Photo credit: Jason Webber

I finished up my veg box deliveries around 7pm, managed to squeeze in a quick dinner and scrambled together my kit before rushing out the door at 7:30pm. We were camping in a woodland clearing around 45minutes from my flat by car and I knew the others had already set off by train from central London so didn’t want to get there too late.

As it happens I arrived at our meeting point with beautiful views over the town below but no sign of any happy campers - I had beaten them too it. 10 minutes later though and I was showered in hugs as they all bounded over the hill top. A quick group shot and we headed to our sleeping spot.

Photo credit: Jason Webber

Photo credit: Jason Webber

As more people joined us over the next hour or so we dived into home made sausage rolls, brownies and even had Spike providing wine mulled on-site! I was thankful for my warmed (I lacked preparation to mull) cider to keep the chill off.

I’d bought a new bivvy bag for the experience and I’m glad I did. At around 11pm I was looking to bed down for the night and found my mat that I’d gotten out on arrival was already pooling with dew so the added protection of a bivvy with a hood was gladly welcomed to keep my sleeping bag as dry as possible.

Once in my sleeping bag and bivvy, I have to admit, I was absolutely bloody freezing! My feet were like icicles and I was seriously tempted to nip over to the car to warm up and thaw out before climbing back into my sleeping bag. But I figured everyone else must be just as cold and so decided to stick it out.

I slept on and off, waking about every hour and a half or so until the penultimate time when I remember finally feeling warm and snug. I’d acclimatised to the cold and warmed the air in my sleeping bag. This was how I remember it. The first time I bivvied I was toasty, all snuggled in my jacket, sleeping bag and hat, just enjoying the quite of the wild and open view to the sky, star gazing as I wake throughout the night.

It was bright, this cold night in January. With a full moon we had no need for head torches, although disappointingly, a cloud of light pollution was visible rising up from the edge of the hill all around.

Up at 6am I had a quick look for a few planets that were supposedly visible over this period, but with no luck. John then helped me pack up my kit and load the car before I headed off to work having rekindled my bivvying flame.