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The Bivvy Challenge

Sunset on Thames Estuary

Even the Queen, ensconced in the very middle of Britain’s biggest city, is only a 15-mile yomp away from  a great bivvy site in the woods by the Great Pond on Epsom Common. Nobody in the UK lives more than 15 miles from somewhere green, pretty, and invigorating to spend a night.

So why not pick a nice warm sunny weekend and give this a go yourself? This infographic will give you all the information you need.

Rules of the Bivvy Challenge

1. Your journey must start and finish at your front door
2. You must cover, through non-motorised means, a circular journey of at least 30 miles (or a distance that is moderately difficult for you)
3. It must take at least 24 hours
4. You must sleep outdoors (no tent) in a place you have never been before
5. You must have an outdoor swim
6. Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men

Necessary Equipment:

  1. Sleeping bag
  2. Bivvy bag
  3. or, for first-timers/misers/paupers/masochists, one of these cheap orange survival bags will do fine

Not Necessary Equipment:

  1. Everything else

If you want to know more about the world of “bivvying” I heartily recommend this book by Ronald Turnbull. It’s more amusing than a book about bivvy bags has any right to be. 

I really do urge you to give this, or any of the year’s microadventures a go yourself.
Please do let me know how you get on: write up your trip and share it online using the hashtag #microadventure

Read Comments

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Comments

  1. Sue Beresford Posted

    I think this is the best video you have made yet.
    And a brilliant challenge….

    Reply
  2. I’ve never slept outdoors without a tent and to be frank the idea sounds quite scary (cows, chavs, rain being just 3) but your video is so infused with enthusiasm and joy that I am going to give this a try. I’m nervous but excited!

    Reply
    • If you’re in the wilds, on top of a hill, by a river bank etc I’m quite sure you’ll have a chav-free night. I can’t promise you won’t wake to the sight of a few curious cows however…

      Good luck!
      You won’t regret it! (Unless it rains all night, in which case you probably will)

      Reply
  3. Kevin Posted

    I’m definitely up for this! What a laugh

    Reply
  4. Hugo Jeffires Posted

    me too. love the micro adventures

    Reply
  5. The bivvy bag I bought last year taunts me every time I open my daughter’s wardrobe, where it’s stored, because I’ve not used it properly yet (inside a kids’ teepee of uncertain waterproofness that I took to a bike race in Manchester doesn’t count).

    Reply
  6. I probably missed some obvious clue but what town/city did you start in, or to put it another way, where do you live at the moment?

    And where roughly did you end up for the night?

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie,
      Trawl through this website and you’ll find very few maps or ‘useful’ information: that’s a conscious choice.There is a niche for sensible trip reports with maps, distances and elevations. I’ve chosen a different angle: I try to convey how a trip felt.
      See here for an explanation: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/2011/03/living-travels/

      I ended up in a hollow beneath some trees and loads of stars on the banks of a busy estuary. It was superb.
      Al

      Reply
  7. Rob Hughes Posted

    I slept in a bivvy bag on Snowdon in February. Bloody awful.

    Reply
  8. Great idea. I accidentally already did a 24-hour bivvy challenge last week – 130-mile round trip on a bike & slept in a drainage pipe. (Mostly) great fun!

    Reply
  9. Beautiful video… really enjoyed this, thanks!

    Was sleeping outside a few years ago (in Hawaii, so thought I wouldn’t need a tent) and at 3am it starting chucking it down!

    I try and sleep in my garden once a month… that’s a micro-micro challenge, and always a refreshing way to wake up!

    Reply
  10. Not watched the video, yet – but I’ve been planning a 24 hour bivy thing ever since I saw your Hill micro adventure. I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks for the push.

    Reply
  11. I am up for a spot of bivvying, but is it in the rules to cycle there?

    Once again, a ‘finger on the pulse’ article and video, thanks Alastair.

    Reply
  12. Hi Al,
    Great post – very motivational and inspiring.

    Was chatting with my 7 Year old last night and we’re gonna do a toned down version of this:
    – walk 12 miles from door to secret location
    – sleep in bivvies (possibly under a boardwalk)
    – morning paddle
    – walk back

    Will capture on video and blog about it.

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Tim

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the inspiration. I set off tomorrow (Friday) morning on my first, of many hopefully, microadventure. The idea of what I would do came to me yesterday afternoon – no time to talk myself out of it then!

    You can read pre (and hopefully post) trip stories at:
    http://morelivinglessironing.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/microadventure-bivvying-south-of-geneva/

    Reply
  14. I spent the best part of 3 months sleeping in my Bivvy thoughout Europe. Amazing.

    Reply
  15. Hamish Posted

    What’s acceptable bivvying weather? We’ve just had a thoroughly miserable week here (Melbourne – Australia) and heading into winter it’s not getting any better any time soon.

    Reply
  16. inspiring as usual. wish i’d read the rules first…no swim included on our bivvy (http://teacake-kate.blogspot.com/2011/05/bivvy-that-broke-us.html)…i guess that means we just have to try again 🙂

    Reply
  17. Ross Corbett Posted

    One of the best videos yet, I’m loving the micro-adventures.

    What camera do you use to film these videos as the quality is great? 🙂

    Reply
  18. Lorne Read Posted

    I bivvy a lot, just for fun

    I find it a great way to feel connected to nature

    Reply
  19. lilalia Posted

    Love the idea of a micro-adventure. Certainly, have loved your videos to date. Can not say why, but this one touched home. Thanks.

    Reply
  20. dexey Posted

    My mate and I planned to bike and bivi the Radnor Ring this month. Prostate cancer has jumped in and altered my calendar but I should be fit again for August :0)
    ps Are you speaking in the West Midlands this year?

    Reply
  21. Love it! Bivouac: from biwacht, meaning ‘night guard/patrol’. Thanks Al for helping bring back the Bivy. Vintage ‘micro-adventures’: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/06/a-1955-british-cycling-film-shows-the-joys-of-countryside-touring.php

    Reply
  22. Hi !
    Nice and very inspiring video once again ! That reminds me of my sea kayak bivvies, some years ago. I think you should check your sound mix next time, because your voice is too weak compared to the music, that’s too bad. Also, you are cheating regarding what’s needed and what isn’t : you’re carrying a camera and a tripod ! :).

    Reply
  23. Great idea but don’t fancy an attempt like this with the current UK weather! Definitely need a tent at the moment..

    Reply
  24. Hi Al,

    Just a quick FYI: the link to the Bivvy site above is re-directing to bit.ly.

    Cheers

    Reply
  25. Just did this in Portugal with two other friends. Amazing experience! I would not call it a “micro” adventure though. It was f*cking tough!!

    Reply
  26. barry everall Posted

    im doing a 100 mile bike and bivvy in 5 weeks, thought about a bivvy and basha combo but gonna use a gelert solo

    Reply
  27. puckertoe Posted

    Hey, I brought up on the Common in Epsom… It’s a fantastic wild spot near the city. Some weekends I used to cycle to the Cotswolds as a teenager and end my day behind some hedge for the night before cycling home in the morning. I love micro adventures… I have done for 40 maybe more.years I encourage more women to go and try them.

    Reply
  28. Dave newbould Posted

    This seems a well good website and that Tim moss stuffs good, keep me updated please- you mayve helped ignite a spark

    Reply
  29. Tony L Posted

    Great video Alastair, I have never thought of bivvying until the other day while planning a cycle tour to the Hebrides, and having done a bit of research in to the notion of leaving the tent behind I have purchased a half decent bag and am really looking forward to getting out there and experiencing more freedom than before with just a bag, I am bit nervous about the weather though!

    Reply

 
 

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