After sleeping under the stars (and a Blue Moon) with my daughter Rose on Holiday a few weeks ago I was thirsty for more outdoor adventure. Just as I was planning to do a trip of my own I came across the ‘Adventure Army‘ group on Facebook and through that a trip by the Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite and his ‘Say Yes More‘ campaign. I thought it might be nice to join some like minded adventure seekers so signed up.
It was all a bit of a mystery as to the plan up until the day before when I got the email with instructions and the loose plan. I’m used to extensively planning things and i’m finding it quite a revelation to just be a bit ad-hoc and last minute. I’m hoping to embrace this a lot more.
Hadleigh Castle, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
The ‘plan’ was simple – get the train to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex overlooking the Thames estuary, eat fish and chips, walk up to Hadleigh Castle (about 30 mins) and bivvy down for the night. Unlike my previous microadventure where the weather was warm and cloudless this night promised rain which added a bit of extra adventure to the whole thing.
The threatened rain may have cut down the numbers somewhat and 13 of us ended up having a quick drink and enjoying the excellent fish and chip supper at ‘The May Flower’. In the brief chats with the group everyone seemed keen, friendly and willing to ‘have a go’. I was also really pleased to see a wide range of ages from 20s to 60.
We arrived at the Castle just as it was getting dark and found a spot below the fortress a bit out of the way. It almost goes without saying that this is a very atmospheric and cool place to have an overnight adventure. I personally also loved the view over the estuary, the refineries on Canvey Island and even the Kent coast.
Normally we would aim not to have any shelter but with the imminent rain the group pooled resources of various tarpaulins, cord, bungies and tent pegs and made a group basha. We then went and sat in the castle and talked about our adventure plans, aspirations and motivations. I found this very inspiring. What I had failed to bring, however, was any booze which I think would have been nice.
At a late hour we all crawled into our bivvy bags and made an effort to sleep. As we were under a basha and with full cloud cover there were no stars or moon to watch and dream of. A shame but still a shade better than being fully enclosed in a tent. The rain did arrive making our effort worthwhile.
In the morning I woke around 6am to a grey but dry morning and had a breakfast of a can of coffee (horrid) and Malt Loaf (lovely). If I had been on my own I think I’d have quite liked to just pack up and head off but we hung around until everyone had risen and sorted themselves out. This is possibly my least favourite element to group activities like this.
Overall this was a lovely way to spend a Friday night and it didn’t even eat much into my weekend. The people were all really nice and very inspiring, I felt really at home. I would definitely go again.