Running a little low on my annual leave count for the year, I decided it was time for a midweek camp without the need for time off work.
I packed my 32L pack with my sleeping bag, bivvy, a stove and some food – and brought it to work with me for the day. The pack sat under my desk, patiently awaiting 4:30 when I finish up for the day.
I walked to the train station and met Oisin, and we got the train to Bangor for a bite to eat and a few pints.
We walked along the North Down Coastal Path for around a mile, where we arrived at our bivvy spot for the evening just outside Crawfordsburn, by the waterside.
We unpacked and sat enjoying the waves and the sun for a while, before unpacking the MSR Reactor for a brew. Boil time was startlingly quick – and the silence made a welcome change from my usual liquid fuel stove. I could actually hear the waves.
We forgot to pick up milk for the tea, but with a view like we had, such things weren’t to be worried about. Black tea is fine, even with that titanium taste.
After an hour or so chatting, looking around us and generally enjoying the surroundings, we decided it was time to unpack the gear and set up for the night, to give our sleeping bags time enough to loft before climbing in. It was a mild night though – and warmth was certainly not a serious problem. The sun started to set just as we climbed in and it made for quite a view.
From the comfort of our respective bivvy bags we lay and chatted idly about the quality of the evening, the sudden abundance of midges and previous camping adventures. The joy of having the stove right next to the bivvy meant I could have another brew without much fuss. A clean pot and a fast boiling stove definitely have their plus points. I sipped my tea as the midges ate away at me, before laying back to stare up at the sky for a while.
Then the bats arrived – and made short work of the midges. I can’t say I had much sympathy for them either as I itched my arms. The midges didn’t return and the swooping and fighter-jet like manoeuvres of the bats made a great bivvy bag matinee. Before long we both drifted off.
I was very, very warm throughout the night, owing to the mild temperatures and the fact that I’m still using my Alpkit Skyehigh 800 – a winter bag. I’m in the market for a lightweight and minimal down bag for summer. Bring out a Skyehigh 400 please Alpkit!
I rose briefly shortly before dawn to answer the call of nature and the soft glow on the water was a pleasing sight. I lay back down for a few hours waiting to rise, when the proximity of the stove to the bivvy came in useful again. Breakfast was spicy beef pot noodle dans la bivi bag.
We rose and packed up, before setting a steady pace to Helen’s Bay train station, where we made it in time for the 8:25 train.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, refreshing and good for clearing the head. No leave was required and I arrived in work for 9am. Anyone who says they don’t have time for camping needs to try this – you don’t need to be in the wilds to have a good time outdoors.
I’ve a feeling there’ll be more microadventures to come, seeing as I tend to get out on average twice a month, and annual leave is becoming a scarce commodity. After a night like that – I’m encouraged more than ever to keep getting out, even for a quick overnighter.