January Microadventure no.1 came after a long wait and with much excitement. Having spent a long time waiting to find a group of people crazy enough to brave the January weather, I finally found them right under my nose. My forest school friends of course!
This was the first time any of my forest friends had been on a microadventure, so we decided to play it as safe as possible considering the time of year, and stay close to home. To make it as luxurious as possible, we decided a few drinks and some hot food in a local pub might be in order. It turned out to be a great idea. I reckon it’ll catch on!
Anyway, come 10.30ish we’d finally built up the necessary amount of courage/craziness to go and climb a hill in the wind, rain, cold, and pitch blackness of a night on the Yorkshire moors. So off we went.
Having already decided vaguely where we’d like to stay, we hit the hill and went in the general direction of our site. Visibility was minimal and the terrain would have been testing even in broad daylight, but somehow we ended up more or less where we’d intended after a lot of ups and downs, and a great deal of laughter. There were a few trips, bumps, and squelchy wellies, but that’s surely part of the fun!
We each set about setting up our camp. Jo and Helen set up a tarp to share, I set up a hammock and tarp, and Darren shared a tarp with his dog Tilly. I can tell you, setting up for an uncertain night on a wet and windy hilltop is not as easy as it might be.
For me, the best part of adventures like this are the times shared with others. Sitting and drinking tepid tea from a shared flask on that hillside was a fantastic experience. Each of us happy and a little nervous about the night ahead. Each of us for our own reasons, but it’s only when you test the limits of your comfort zone like this that you learn anything about yourself. Sharing that experience with friends only makes it richer.
The night itself was very windy with sporadic rain. Sleep was equally sporadic for me. I heard the ladies giggling like schoolgirls well in to the early hours. At around 3am the wind got under my tarp and ripped all six heavy duty pegs out of the ground. So there I was, unceremoniously dangling in the rain. It’s funny actually, but under normal circumstances I’d have been a tad cheesed off at this point. I’m not normally known for my patience. It may have been the temporary lapse of sanity that sent me up this hill in the first place, or it may have been the night outdoors working it’s magic, but getting out of a warm sleeping bag to fix the tarp wasn’t at all unpleasant. Despite the wind and rain and all, I was glad to be there. I smiled. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
Soon enough, morning came. For the first time we were able to see our surroundings, and how beautiful they were! Before our eyes, the valley opened up to reveal a clear, icy, Spring fed river flowing down a valley towards a reservoir on our right. In the distance, the hilltops were dusted with snow. The air was fresh and clean, the bracken crisp under foot.
For some time, camp was quiet. I think in our own ways we were all just appreciating the moment, being thankful for the view, the circumstances that had brought us there, and the friends we’d shared the experience with.
Packing up later than planned, we took the scenic route back to the pub, and enjoyed breakfast by the warmth of their coal fire. I think the girl behind the bar there seemed struck with equal parts envy and pity. I suppose that is the standard reaction when a group of bedraggled, grinning weirdos walk in to your pub at 9am in the morning. She must have thought we were crazy, and I can’t say that I blame her.