Do I want to spend the night sleeping atop a viewing tower?

 That was the question I asked myself, one cold wet Friday afternoon. The tower in question is a 1987 viewing platform built on the site of a Napoleonic Watch tower.  It sits high above the surrounding trees and offers 360-degree views of Sandringham Park, Norfolk.

The viewing tower
 This wasn't the first time I had heard of the tower, some friends and fellow wild campers had stayed there in the summer, they had reported back with photos of amazing sunsets, a cool summer breeze and waking up to the sound of bird song. But this was January. 

 I thought long and hard, I'm not usually one to turn down an adventure but it had been a while since I'd been out, and I was getting soft. The temperature was showing at 5 degrees and the wind would be hailing. I could feign an injury; broken finger nail or maybe signs of the bubonic plague would do but life is for living and what's the worst that could happen?

 So it was that I loaded up my rucksack with my warmest clothes, a hip flask and a square piece of tarpaulin that would be my home for the night and I set off. It was a two-hour drive to the site and a friend was meeting me there. 
 I arrived at a nearby church, said my prayers and waited for my friend to arrive. When wild camping it's always sensible to park the car somewhere safe, inconspicuous and generally close to civilisation. As wild camping isn't strictly legal anywhere in the UK you must be careful not to advertise what you are doing. I was just looking for somewhere safe to park when D arrived in her flower ordained Hippie mobile. Very inconspicuous
Ron was sad not to be included in the adventure

 The tower was a 15min walk away and we had around an hour to sun down so we set off.

My plan was to arrive, take a lot of pictures then get dinner on and get the tarps up. Unfortunately, in the rush to get to the top I completely forgot to take any pictures of the tower. Mistake no.1
The view from the tower was amazing and the skies cleared up to give us a lovely starry night. Dinner was a ready meal chicken casserole followed by chocolate and a cup of tea. Evenings are long when it gets dark so early and by 9pm we were cold enough to call it a night. The tarps were erected as best we could. This involved a lot of granny knots and wrapping the guy lines around the structure. Mistake no. 2. 
We arrived just before sunset

 This is where I would normally boil some water for a hot water bottle, but the wind had kicked in and it has started to rain. I couldn’t be bothered. 

 Sleeping in a bivvy bag is a little difficult at the best of times but I snuggled in and soon warmed up. 

 After a few fidgety moments/hours I eventually drifted off the sleep with the wind whistling around my face and the sound of the tarp flapping in my ears.  When wild camping it is very unlikely get more than a few hours sleep but this night was particularly restless. The noise of the tarp flapping in the wind got worse as the night went on and no matter how much I clutched my make shift pillow I kept losing it out of my bag.
An uncomfortable night's sleep

 I assumed D was having an equally uncomfortable night and by 5 am things were getting worse. The wind had somehow untied the tarp and I was starting to get wet. I pulled myself out and looked up to see the tarp flying around like a kite. Time to leave, breakfast can wait.

 Now that the tarp was untying it was a race against the clock to get out, dressed and everything packed up before we got soaked. Trousers were pulled on inside the bivvy, and my sleeping quilt was packed away to stay dry. We now had to untie all the knots and get the tarps down. If you have ever tried doing a coat up or tying a shoelace with cold hands this was a lot worse. We soldiered on and eventually everything was packed away, and we were free to go.  No photos. No breakfast no memorable sunrise.

 We said our goodbyes and set off. Knowing I was heading home to two excited children I decided I couldn’t afford to skip breakfast so headed to the local McScottish takeaway. I walked in with my usual cocky swagger. The kind of walk that says “I am a true adventurer. While you lot were sleeping in your beds, I was outside, braving the storm”

Everyone looked at me in awe. You could see the admiration in their faces when I ordered my Egg McMuffin. Or at least that is what I could just have been my unkept hair, unbrushed teeth and inside out trousers. 


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