Microadventure #10: Wild Horses in the Mendips

This has to be one of the best microadventures I’ve done. As simple as they get, and the perfect reset button to working all week.

On top of the world! …Or just the top of the Mendip Hills.

I’ve been working in the Mendips for 8 months and it’s taken me this long to sleep out on a hill, mostly using the excuse of “it’s winter” and “I work outside all day”. Being outside because you choose to and not because you have to is very different.

Mollie in action. Rucksack, hill & sunshine.

A huge thank you to Mollie from the Norwich Microadventure group for coming to my (new) neck of the woods! It meant that I couldn’t back out of the trip because –insert excuse– and we even got someone from the Bristol group to join us. We had a magical evening chilling on the side of a hill, only 5 minutes from the road, with a view north of the Mendip Hills. Here’s a short video that Mollie made of the trip:

3 strangers met in a village car park, wandered up a hill and then enjoyed the fresh evening air, slept on the flat bit, and woke up in the morning back in time for work/activities.

Enjoying the sunset over Wales

The evening light was beautiful, with a whole range of colours in the sky. Cameras really don’t do it justice. The only way to truly appreciate them is to get out on a hill yourself (hint, hint!). We enjoyed a chit chat with a gentle breeze, wandered to the very top to see the south side, then wandered back to set up beds on a flat bit about 2/3 up.

Just as the light was fading, I spotted some strange silhouettes on the brow of the hill. A herd of wild ponies galloped down to greet us, a completely unexpected surprise that was the highlight of the whole microadventure. They stayed a while grazing, curious and friendly but never getting closer than a few feet.

So many they don’t even fit in the picture.

As the evening got darker, the ponies dispersed and we settled in to our beds for the night. It was so warm I didn’t use my bivvy – just a roll mat and sleeping bag on the hill.

Sunrise over Black Down.

Although I woke up early, I stayed snuggled up in my sleeping bag as the morning light seemed too bright to cope with. Eventually it was time to get out of bed and head back to “civilisation”.

Who cares about coffee when there’s this to wake up for?

Short and sweet, this was a perfect trip and I wish I could’ve used it to introduce more people to microadventures. Part of the adventure is the unknown so planning a “perfect” first trip isn’t really possible. Every sleep out is different, so no two microadventures will be the same. I can’t wait to return to this spot and see what magic awaits me.

As with any wild camp, always Leave No Trace that you were ever there!

A huge thanks to Dave from Bristol Microadventures and Mollie from Norfolk Microadventures for joining me! If anyone is interested in joining these kinds of trips then find your local Facebook group or get in touch. For an up to date list of groups have a look at Alastair Humphreys’ list.

Obligatory post-adventure selfie! Dave, Mollie and me.

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