Wild Night Out is all about exploring the outdoors, making your own adventure and doing something out of your ordinary routine.
So last Summer I decided to take myself on my first Wild Night Out, a solo adventure which would take me out of my comfort zone and hopefully ignite a slowly burning desire to get outdoors more. I also decided to do it alone since no one I knew fancied sleeping on a hill!
Date: 16th July 2017 (WNO)
Destination: Somewhere inconspicuous with good views – I chose Ditchling Down between Pycombe and the Ditchling Beacon car park.
Kit: 50-litre rucksack, walking boots, sleeping bag, bivvy bag, blow up sleeping mat, 2x water bottles, waterproof jacket, hoodie, thermal layers, ‘all-purpose’ jeans, 2x pairs of socks, portable phone charger, a book and my DSLR camera.
I chose this area because I’d walked there before and knew it provides a magical view of the sunset and sunrise, something that really motivated me since I have a love of landscape photography.
It’s important to stress I didn’t plan every second of this. I picked a reasonably timed train from Redhill to Hassocks, walked at my own pace and didn’t have any exciting plans for when I arrived on the hills. I walked the couple of miles up to the Jack and Jill windmills near Pycombe, found a nice place to sit and enjoy the sun.
That burning hot afternoon the area was busy with walkers, families and the general public enjoying the countryside. There was a lovely golden haze in the air. I hadn’t figured out where to lay my head for the night yet as I wanted to wait till it got quieter to set up camp.
With my phone turned off and at the bottom of my bag (after I’d reassured my girlfriend that this was a good idea!), I read my book, took some nice photos, chatted to some walkers and settled in to eat my dinner of a Sainsburys tuna and sweetcorn sandwich and whole pack of Maryland cookies. Some Wild Night Out eh! On paper it sounds like I could have done half of this at home, but as the sun went down and people started heading home I really started to feel the adventure begin.
I was by myself, laying on a hill, with no else one around. The lack of man-made noise was wonderful, leaving space for the subtler noises of nature. The rustling of the grass, the light summer breeze coming over the hill, the sheep and birds settling in for the night. Although it was quite daunting being alone, I found the sounds of the local wildlife around me quite comforting!
Being mid-Summer and high up it didn’t get truly dark until around midnight. Around that time I got comfy in my sleeping bag, with a few layers on and tried to get some sleep. All in all I got a couple of hours decent kip, with a bit of tossing and turning at times.
Morning came with a start. A group of sheep had stumbled across me around 4.30am as the sun was just about to peak over the horizon. It must have been quite a shock to stumble across a snoring heap on their morning walk!
Safe to say, the sunrise was an incredible experience. I woke up to a thick mist covering the lowlands and a slow golden light filling the sky in the East – it felt like the top of the world. Again, the sounds of nature began to filter in. There is nothing quite like waking up to the fresh, crisp air of the outdoors and knowing that you may well be the only person around. I was the only person in the world to have that spectacular view at that particular time, and that made it all worthwhile.
Written by Joseph Rivers, WNO Blog Editor