DD Adventure Blog
Journals and guides from the DD Hammocks team and special guest writers - read through the blog entries for exciting expedition reports, helpful camping tips, and inspirational photos of set-ups and spectacular scenery across the whole world!
Friday Night Out
Summer can be the best time for camping due to the long days and plentiful sunshine. However, it can also be a busy time for a lot of us. Kids off school, family holiday plans, or in my own case house rennovations can sometimes get in the way of some much needed adventure time. That does not need to be the case however!
Inspired by the "School Night Bivi Club" concept (which we featured in a past blog entry) I decided to head for the hills one sunny Friday evening on my bike, so that I could enjoy as much time as possible relaxing at my campsite. With the recently-released DD SuperLight Bikepacker Tarp and Groundsheet packed into my frame bags, my plan was to enjoy a quick night under the stars away from the city, before returning home for breakfast and a productive weekend ahead.
I'd sparked the idea midweek after seeing some really inspiring photos on Instagram, which had me longing for a bit of adventure. My only issue was that my next few weekends already had a packed schedule so it would have to wait...or would it? I looked at my diary and realised I had a free space in my diary from 5pm Friday to 9am Saturday.
Living in Edinburgh, I am lucky to be within a short ride of the Pentlands - a vast expanse of rolling hills and scenic valleys that bounds the city on the south side. A plan was hatched! Eschewing a sleepy dinner and TV on the couch, I would change straight into cycling kit after work and pedal out to the hills; taking advantage of the long summer evening for a whistle-stop bivi away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
When the time came, I raced home and flung my bikepacking bags out of the cupboard and filled them with the bare necessities - the new DD SuperLight - Bikepacker Tarp and Bikepacker Groundsheet, my trusty DD Scarba Sleeping Bag and SuperLight Inflatable Mat, a warm jacket and a pouch of dehydrated Macaroni Cheese. Yum...
Come 6pm I set out on my trusty rat-run towards the hills through town on my gravel bike, enjoying the light breeze, whilst watching revellers start to build up in pubs and restaurants for the other kind of Friday night out. I was glad to be getting away from it all!
By the time I'd left the city boundaries a relaxed 40 minutes later the air had turned a little cooler, which was perfect for the long grind uphill on rough tracks that awaited me. I only had myself to blame though, as I was leaving from sea-level and my planned campsite was above 500m.
Progress was slow but steady, and I was thankful that all my kit was ultralight so I could spin the pedals without collapsing into a sweaty heap. What's more, the scenery was so stunning in the early evening light that it served as a good distraction from hundreds of metres of climbing (and I definitely didn't use stopping to take photos as a way to get a sneaky rest...)
The majority of the climbing was over mercifully quickly, and I rolled past one of the more popular spots for camping. It's a beautiful area, but was already starting to fill up with other city-escapees for the night, and I fancied a bit more solitude.
The final pull for me was a hike up to the summit of the next hill over: flat and dry on top, with commanding views over the other Pentland peaks, the countryside to the south, and Scotland's capital city to the north - nestled in against the Forth estuary glimmering in the evening sun.
Setting up the Tarp and groundsheet couldn't be easier - there was even a helpfully placed (and slightly mysterious) rock right where I was pitching to hold the guy-line up off the back to create more room for my feet. I angled the pointed rear end of the tarp into the refreshing breeze to ensure I had a rustle-free night, and then it was onto the important task: getting the DD Camping Stool Out and enjoying dinner with a view!
Probably the less said about the Macaroni Cheese the better to be honest, but it did do well to replace the calories I had burned whilst cycling here - and followed up with a slice of Battenburg cake it lifted my mood even further. It was around 8pm by the time I had finished eating, so I threw on my warm jacket and watched for an hour as the sun started to set to the west, casting a bright orange glow over the hills and the city.
The sun finally set at 9.30pm, so it was time to retreat inside the Bikepacker Tarp for the night. I had (luckily!) remembered to bring my headtorch and a book with me - though I couldn't help myself but to keep leaving the tarp to stare up at the summer night sky as the moon replaced the sun.
The faint hum of the city could be heard in the background, alongside the distant chatting of other campers hidden in another part of the hills. Apart from that, I was all alone. Despite being only an hour or so's ride from my house, I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world.
Before too long, it was 11.30pm - definitely time to sleep! The night had turned quite chilly, so I pulled myself into my Scarba Sleeping Bag and got comfortable on my Inflatable mat.
All of a sudden I was awoken in what felt like a split second by the tweeting of birds and the light sky. Checking my phone I found out that it was 5.30am - normally this would be too early for me, but I wanted to get off the hill before it got busy with weekend walkers, and I needed to be back home for 9am in any case.
It wasn't quite the epic sunrise that I had been hoping for to match the sunset of the previous evening, but it was still incredible to wake up in the hills, knowing I had the whole day ahead of me. I quickly made a bee-line for the stove, and once the coffee was ready I sat for 45 minutes listening to the sounds of the world waking up, still wrapped in my sleeping bag on the dry grass.
I almost didn't want to leave, but the time had come. Since the tarp was set up with my bike as the main support, it was incredibly easy to get packed up again. No need to fully empty my bags the previous evening, everything was there within an arm's reach. Within 10 minutes I was clipping into the pedals, bike bags strapped tight, ready to descend down the rough tracks to the city - having great fun hopping drainage bars and leaning round twisty corners. A much better way to wake up the body than an alarm clock!
The town was almosty deserted as I was pedalling back, and the first car I saw was 2 minutes from home when I stopped to get a breakfast roll to enjoy on the couch before 8am, congratulating myself on a job well done!
It might not be an epic sprawling adventure through mountain ranges and remote moors, but even a small trip into your local wild places can do wonders for refreshing the mind and body. You dont even need to plan time off work if you're lucky enough to have some incredible places like this near you, so why not try it next time you've got a hankering for adventure but a busy schedule?
For this microadventure I used the following DD Hammock gear - click through the links to find out more:
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About the writer
Growing up in the far Northwest Highlands of Scotland, Ewan is no stranger to the Great Outdoors. As part of the DD Hammocks team with a passion for cycling, hillwalking and outdoor sports, Ewan is super keen to spread the joys of the outdoor lifestyle to all!