There are many things I yearn for in life, one is adventure, so when my normal Thursday house group was cancelled I made an impulsive decision to swap my comfy bed that night for a hammock camp. I texted to see if anyone else fancied a slice of adventure but no one was free so I dressed up as warm as possible, packed and headed out apprehensively on my first solo wild camp.
Some months prior id been on a walk on Ilkley and stored a nice patch of hammock trees in my micro-adventures memory bank. I’d made the split second decision not to pack my tarpaulin so was gutted that when I arrived at Ilkley station it was raining. In true micro-adventure style this did not put me off instead I stopped off at a local kebab shop for some chips to motivate me for the task ahead.
Despite having a vague idea as to where the trees were I didn’t know the route to get there so trial an error was the old way forward. I weaved my way up the fern clad hills trying to use my torch as little as possible in fear that someone from the town below would spot the light and send a search party up for me. luckily the moon was bright that particular evening and cast plenty of light on my muddy footsteps. As I Scrambled higher and higher in search of my bed for the night I came across a bench and took a minute to stop and look behind me at where I’d come from. I was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of the night, the drizzle had passed by this point and aside from a few clouds the moon and stars were in full glow illuminating the towns below right to the horizon. As I ate one of my emergency snack bars I thought of the people settling into their beds kissing their loved ones goodnight and the muddy path ahead of me before finding my rest. I’m fairly sure I saw a moonbow (a nigh time rainbow) but it could’ve been my tired mind playing tricks on me.
I took a wrong turning on the moor so it took me longer than anticipated to find the trees but once I found them I picked two suitable ones and set up camp for the night, disturbing a few resting sleep while doing so. Its true what Phoebe Smith says in her book that “innocuous sheep by day look like satanic devil spawn with evil eyes by moonlight” but at least I could reply to the little voice in my head that was screaming ‘its a murderer’ at every unidentifiable sound with ‘its probably just a sheep’. The wind rustling through the trees served as a soft lullaby as I cuddled my hot water bottle and rocked to and fro gently into the land of nod.
I awoke to the cold at around 6:30am and decided to pack down camp before being stumbled across by unsuspecting dog walkers. I used the rest of the water in my hot water bottle to warm my hands and restore much needed blood flow before packing down – next time I shall take gloves. I had survived my first solocamp and had a celebratory bacon sandwich to look forward to once I reached the station. I ambled back the way I came, this time in daylight, spotting the paths I should’ve taken and the puddles I shouldn’t’ve trodden in. I stopped on the same bench for a breakfast cereal bar this time admiring the view as the sun rose over the hills and texting my friend to confirm that I hadn’t been abducted or murdered in the night much to her relief.
I boarded the commuter train back to Leeds surrounded by men in suits supporting briefcases and equally professional looking freshly made up women. I must’ve looked a state in my woolly hat and muddy boots in comparison, but I’d already had my adventure, theirs was just beginning.