by Grace Bovis
My first experience of the Wild Night Out weekend was a brilliant one! Holly Budge, myself and four other Wild Night Out attendees met up a pub just a few miles from Holden Farm, where we would be spending the night. We all had a drink in the pub garden, enjoying the rare, but for once perfect, British sunshine. It wasn’t long before we all started swapping stories of hikes and other camping trips we had been earlier in the year. We hiked from the pub to Holden farm via footpaths, crossing the famous South Downs Way. At the farm, Holly pointed out the showers and other great facilities available for campers. We had the use of a flat, half acre, perfect for pitching our tents with a portaloo to the side. As Holly says – We are not that wild! One family pitched a huge white bell tent - I was jealous as I only had my coffin sized, one woman, tent. Great for thru hiking but not so good for sitting up in or doing anything other than lying still.
Once everyone had arrived, Holly’s wonderful team of friends and family built the fire and set up a mic ready for the talks. Holly talked about her incredible adventures; first women to sky dive Everest, her summit of Everest and riding horses across Mongolia in a 1000 km race! She then spoke passionately about her charity, How Many Elephants. Holly now uses her adventures as a platform to raise awareness of the devastating numbers of elephants poached daily.
Next, I shared my adventures with the audience, I focused on my first - a solo 300 mile hike across the Sierra mountain range, following the Pacific Crest Trail. I used stories from my trip to talk about the fears we often have to overcome before and during challenging adventures, not only from ourselves but often imposed by friends and family. I talked about the incredible self-growth that can come from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone plus all the changes that my adventures have made to my life. I finished with camping and hiking tips that I have picked up from my travels.
The kids toasted marshmallows on the bomb-fire and danced to the music playing as the sun set and us adults talked about anything and everything until way past my bedtime. All feeling inspired, we pledged to complete bold adventures, I think the beers may have helped.
In the morning, Teacher arrived to give a master class in bird watching, the kids loved him. I have never seen kids so quiet and still as they listened for the wood pigeon, who seemed happy to have an audience.
In just 24 hours I had made friends with people I have a feeling I will keep in touch with for far longer. Bring on Wild Night Out 2020!