I have wild camped many times, but only using my little 2 man tent the Zephyros 2. I have been meaning to purchase a bivvy bag for a long time and finally bought one from Alpkit. The weather had been stunning all week and looked to continue throughout the weekend so I began to formulate a plan. At Keswick mountain festival last weekend I went to a talk by the brilliant Phoebe Smith who’s book on wildcamping I had previously read. For her most recent book and the inspiration behind the talk, she tackled her favourite small hills around Britian. This lead me to incorporate one of my own local hills into my night in the bivvy. I chose Ugborough Beacon because it has dominated my eyeline on every drive I have made to Dartmoor or the A38 for my entire life. It would also provide me with enough of a vantage point to watch the sun set over the moors and to rise over some beautiful English countryside, and was a mere 15 minute drive from my house.
I parked at Peek moor gate, popped my bag on my shoulders and began my ascent to the top. It is only 378m/1240ft but it is a steep climb and I was beginning to regret putting my down jacket on at the start, but I only had to sweat for a few minutes before the granite outcrop that marks the top began to come into view. As I approached and the scene unfolded before me I was stopped in my tracks by the beauty of this little scene. Dartmoor pony’s grazing all around and golden sun dropping away behind. It definitely vindicated my decision to make this the site for my first bivvy.
I made myself comfortable and watched the sunset. I was the only person there, and on such a clear evening my sight stretched to the sea. The atmosphere was serene, and the views spectacular. The only thing on my mind was why I had waited so long to do this. When the soft glow of dusk started to disappear I settled down in a spot shielded from the wind. I had planned on continuing to marvel at the sky until the stars were out but I fell asleep in minutes, although I awoke once in the night so I didn’t miss out entirely.
I set my alarm for 4:30am to ensure I didn’t miss the sunrise. It was just as magical as the previous evening’s sunset, the colours slowly filtering in and illuminating the clouds until the golden orb appeared. I sat still, and just watched, before scrambling back down the hillside. Home by 6am for a coffee, my spirits lifted much higher for the evening’s experience.
Awoke on a tor
Burnished sky enthralling me
Dawn chorus rising