an Epping Forest sleepout.

Saturday 04 October 2014 – Epping Forest.

After an awesome ride in the forest last weekend I was really pleased to get a message from microadventure organiser extraordinaire Anna, talking about an early autumn, last day of summers warmth microadventure on Friday night. Even better, it is in my hood – back in Epping Forest.

I managed to sneak home quickly after work to get changed and pick up pack before deciding to take the bus all the way up to the meeting place in Loughton rather than bussing to Leyton and catching the tube. Frustratingly the bus took ages to get out of the bus depot and more than a kilometre up the road as the traffic was really bad, I ended up being over half an hour late to the station, but it seemed I was not the only one. It was dark when I arrived at the station and rather than hang about waiting to see if there were any other stragglers I started walking up through Loughton and out into the forest towards our meeting point at the Robin Hood pub. I didn’t realise the road would have no footpath as well as no street lighting.

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Strangely I was the first to arrive at the pub, but I was not alone for long as others started arriving soon after me, some having taken rather a long walk from Loughton station. There were ten of us who turned out for the night, which started with a couple of beers, some quite nice Thai food and a little whisky tasting.

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After the whisky tasting we headed off from the pub, crossed the road and went straight into Epping Forest. We took a twenty or so minute walk down one of the paths until we found what looked to be a comfortable clearing to set up camp for the night. The great thing about this microadventuring malarky is that it should be nice and easy, no great packing of tents and camping equipment. Tossing a sleeping bag, mat and a bivvy in a small pack is all that you need. this makes for a quick transition from finding a place to camp to being settled. Sweet !

Then sleeping type things happened, for most people, not so much for me, but some happy snoring sounds rumbling around the forest suggested some had a good sleep.

Fortunately it was a pretty mild night, I was expecting it to be colder than it was, and was glad I really didn’t have to test the boundaries of my summer sleeping bag. It was a pretty comfy night and reasonably quiet in our section of the forest.

It was a slow start in the morning, I lazed about for a while waiting for signs of life from the others.

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Eventually I got up and went for a stroll to find a clear photo of the sunrise I could see through the trees.

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I also found we had some neighbours as well.

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Most people were up soon after I got back, with not a lot to do it was pretty much a case of pack up and go. A couple of people had these awesome jet boilers, small gas filled stoves that put out intense heat and boil a container of water in just over a minute – no good for cooking, but brilliant for coffee, which was generously shared around.

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Once packed we walked the thirty or so minutes down through the forest to Chingford station and caught the train home. For me it was three stops and I was home by 8:30.

I am really pleased I went, it was a fun night out, with a great bunch of people.

As forecasted the temperature plummeted on Saturday, dropping about eight degrees over the weekend. And there ended summer!

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.