Wild Nights

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I should have known better.

When a text message says: “It could be wild” as you’re prepping for an impromptu bivvy, a wise man would type back: “Let’s give it a miss and watch Euro 2016 instead.”

Yes, clearly I didn’t heed that advice as this would have been a poor blog but even in hindsight, typing this with a cold and still finding bits of damp clothing, it was the correct decision.

The plan was to head to the Lancashire coast, near Silverdale and pitch up near Jenny Brown’s Point to take in the sunset.

The trip up should have set alarm bells ringing. The M6 was at a standstill at 33 and it took more than an hour to shift.

In the end myself and Johnny Hartnell arrived in Silverdale just as the Euro final started.

The Silverdale Hotel is a nice boozer; spacious throughout and a really hospitable landlady. She had only been at the pub for three months but you could tell she loved the area, even though she’d not had a chance to explore it yet.

However.

Two hours later torrential rain was still smashing into the conservatory but we’d gone past the stage of no return (too many beers to drive home –  see Ribblehead bivvy) and we had to set out into the wild.

The road down to the beachside was peaceful; the shore glistening on the right hand side and even though the weather was bad, you could see the lights from Morecambe and beyond.

Once the road and path came to a halt, we continued to walk along that coast, trying to avoid the slippery limestone (I didn’t – ouch) before reaching grass banking for easier movement.

We then threw a left up to Heald Brow and took the path up the hill. This was more akin to a waterfall but whether it was the Guinness talking up my bravado it was negotiated with ease and in little time.

By the time it got close to midnight we realised we’d have to pitch somewhere. We’d been searching for the perfect spot, but bivvying never is that exact.

Tarp attached to a tree looked good, but the rainwater ran into where our sleeping bags would be.

Johnny had also left his walking poles by his car which made erecting said shelter more difficult. It was a dire situation really… until…

“Stay there, I’ll be back in a second,” was Hartnell’s shout.

Now, I’m used to stuff like this from him … normally followed with a “marvellous” or a “fantastic” afterwards.

In fact, Johnny has the ability to be over enthusiastic when faced with any task. It’s bloody annoying as it happens. But useful when you’re wet and fed up.

Five minutes later, he informed me he’d spotted a “five post” gate and we could attach the tarp to it.  Result.

The groundsheet then went down, my Vango Trek 5 sleeping mat came out and it was a case of trying to make the best of what was a grim situation.

Thankfully, my Rab silk sleeping bag liner and Vango Ultralite 600 did the trick, alongside my trusty Alpkit Hunka.

Sleep came quickly, as did the slugs that decided to take up residence on my face and inflatable pillow. Enough said.

In the morning, the rain still fell. My Alpkit Brukit was fired up (still sounds like a jet engine) and porridge forced down before we decamped and headed back the way we came.

The walk back to the pub was superb. Although it was raining, the mist created an almost gothic background to proceedings and gave the coastline more character. Like most bivvies, I felt like I was the only man alive as I made my way back.

This is a beautiful part of the north west and I watched birds wading in the mudflats with only their calls and the sound of the rain creating the acoustics. I was cold, wet and in pain but totally happy with my lot.

Myself and Jonny often joke about other people being locked away in their houses and tucked up in their beds when we are bivvying. It’s often tongue in cheek because of the poorness of our situation.

But you know what, at times like that it’s worth the dampness and the suffering alone.

Kit Wants / Update:

  • The Vango sleeping mat needs to be upgraded to a lighter and smaller version. Looking at an Alpkit Airo 120 or Alpkit Numo. Have you any thoughts?
  • It’s time for my own tarp.
  • I need some Sealskinz socks.
  • When will someone make a better instant porridge?
  • Aquapac would save my iPhone!