How do you fit in a bit of adventure when there aren’t enough hours in the day, particularly daylight ones? Since our wild camping trip together back in April, Louisa and I had hoped to do more microadventures together, but had not managed to find enough time when we were both free. And with short days and wintry weather upon us we were running out of opportunity before the end of my Year of Microadventure.
One Saturday night in November we defied the freezing weather and sat chatting in the garden all evening. Sitting around a blazing campfire, it wasn’t so different from our summer evening get-togethers, except with snow on the ground and many, many more layers of clothes. We decided we would revive an idea that had not got off the ground in the summer, to see the sunrise with a picnic on the moors.
The advantage of doing this in late autumn is you don’t have to get up nearly as early, although it still felt like the middle of the night when we got up and left the house just after 6am. The village was strangely still and only a single taxi returning late night revellers passed us on the road. I’d brought a torch but never turned it on as our eyes soon became used to the darkness and as we reached the top of the hill, there was a light on the horizon. Not the first signs of dawn but the orange glow of Bradford street lights reflecting off the low clouds. In fact as we headed onto the moors in the half light, it was clear that there would be no stunning sunrise as a thick bank of cloud covered the sky. At least it wasn’t raining.
The light snow and the slowly brightening sky lent the scene a surreal light so the moors where we often walk our dogs looked strange and unfamiliar. However Lou’s sheepdog knew the way and we followed her up and down the heather-clad hillocks of the abandoned quarry workings to reach an escarpment of rocks which overlook the valley. ‘Cassie’s rock’ is where Lou scattered the ashes of a much-missed dog and is a favourite spot on the moors for views and quiet reflection. Here we lit the gas stove to cook a bacon and egg breakfast and wait for dawn.
As predicted there was no glorious sunrise, just a gradual lightening until it was definitely daylight and the murky landscape slotted into its usual habit of greys, greens and browns. After toasting our early morning adventure with tin mugs of hot chocolate, we made our way down the hill to start the day again with our just-woken-up children. And that was it; no thrills and spills, no adrenalin rushes or flashes of grand inspiration. But this microadventure was a fantastic chance to spent time with a friend and see the world in a different light. And seeing as we had been up since the crack of dawn we managed to do the impossible and add some hours to the day.
Postscript: proving nature does not dance to our tune, the sunrise on the following morning was all you could have hoped for – golden swathes of light highlighting rippling clouds in pinks and blues. Sadly I was in the car rushing to work with no time to stand and stare. By text Lou and I vowed to make time for another dawn picnic soon.