It’s asking ‘why not?’ instead of getting stuck at ‘why?’ By Belinda Dixon
In physical terms it’s nothing – all you’re doing without is a couple of millimeters of tent. All you’re moving is two paces to one side. But psychologically the first time it’s huge – to not sleep in the tent. To take your roll mat outside and lay it on the grass. It’s a step people shake their heads over, saying ‘you’re mad’ or ‘why?’
It’s something I’ve long wanted to do but have never actually done. But last weekend I ignored the internal voice that whispered: “You don’t have to bother; the tent will be easier”. So on a campsite in Cornwall I decided to try, thinking if it’s cold, wet and mice run over your face (?!), simply dive back into the tent.
So I moved the mat outside. I wiggled the sleeping bag into the bivvy. Laid back. And suddenly saw a sky full of stars. Stars that multiplied the more I looked. The Plough at first, familiar and clear, then more and more constellations emerging around it and inside. It was magical. So I lay with my glasses on in a field in a sleeping bag in a bivvy, not wanting to take them off, because then I wouldn’t see this velvety blackness and the glinting lights.
Eventually though I had to sleep. So what was that like? Actually really comfortable. Perfectly warm, it wasn’t raining (that helps, obviously), there was a heavy dew but I didn’t get cold or wet inside the bag. It was snug, fun and cosy. I woke a few times; once squinting into the darkness and wondering what was that light? Who’d left a light on over the field? I put my glasses back on and realised it was the moon. And I smiled a lot and looked at that gleaming crescent until I fell back to sleep.
So was it fabulous? Utterly. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Which helps answer the question: ‘why do this?’ Just to see the moon and the stars? Partly; you see them differently. But you’re also taking a step outside your comfort zone, and you realise that of course you can do it. And that the thing you thought was a big deal, isn’t really a big deal at all. It’s about asking ‘why not?’ instead of getting stuck at ‘why?’ Because it also opens up so much more. Hikes to remote places where carrying a tent is a real pain. That sense of really getting away from our day to days.
So where next? Well, a Dartmoor summer solstice bivvy might be in the offing. Some two-day cliff path hikes suddenly look like they need planning. And wherever and whenever, there’ll definitely be more sleeping out, glasses on, under the stars …
And asking ‘why not?’ also nods towards Dave Cornthwaite’s inspirational #SayYesMore campaign.
As always, I’m keen to learn: what bivvying tips would you add? Where has your bivvy bag taken you? Where might I go next …?!