By cutting kit and preparation to a minimum, we can slot some microadventures into the wild into everyday lifeby Cal Flyn / July 18, 2019 / Leave a comment
Have you ever slept outside, with nothing separating you from the sky above? If not, now that summer is finally here, I think it might be time for you to try it out.
My partner and I are moving to Orkney, the lush green archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, later this year. Last week we took the ferry across the Pentland Firth to start our house hunt, and it seemed like an excellent excuse to spend some time in the open air, on the beautiful Orcadian coast. There are charming guesthouses there, of course, but with excellent weather expected any time indoors seems like a bit of a waste. So we packed minimal equipment, ditched the car in a parking space by the beach, then headed out along the cliff path to find a nice spot to bivouac.
Bivouacking is camping, basically, but without the tent: take your mat and sleeping bag then simply pop them inside a thin, rainproof shell (“bivvy bag”) that should protect you from any light rain (or heavy dew). It’s a simple set-up, but a liberating one: no fiddling around with pegs or poles, and no canvas to block your view.
And what a view. By the time we found the perfect site, it was getting late—but the Sun doesn’t set until after 10pm this time of year. It lowered itself, blazing red, into the waters of the Atlantic as we watched from a grassy flat wide enough to fit two bodies safely; a few feet away, the ground dropped away to create a sheer, craggy inlet (known locally as a “geo”) where fulmars chuntered and catcalled to each other from their rocky ledges.
As we rolled out our mats and blankets, we attracted the attention of the locals. That is: a herd of cattle in a dozen shades of dun and tan and buff, who queued curiously along the fence line to watch our novel kind of nest building. The oystercatchers too came to have a look, piping their shrill cries and bouncing through the tussocks. But after a while, after we slid into our green bags and settled down to doze, the neighbours lost interest and returned to whatever business they had to attend to.
There we slept, a salt breeze running its fingers through our hair,…