Like a fool I passed up the chance of a camp the weekend before Christmas when the weather was clear and warm, and so put myself in the position of having to do a last minute camp in order to successfully complete my one wildcamp a month challenge. Having managed it all the way up to November, it would be a shame to fall at the final hurdle. So I eagerly monitored the forecast for the days following the main festivities to find the best night for it. I settled on the Monday or Tuesday and having done so had the thought of seeing if my local mate Colin was free and interested. It turned out he was and we settled on Tuesday.
An afternoon meet at Benfleet Station and we headed along a gravelly track towards Leigh-on-Sea. Col had a spot he’d reccied beforehand and we made our way there casually as we had loads of time in hand before dark. With loads of dog walkers etc out and about, we’d need to wait for proper darkness to pitch.
Eventually people drifted away and we made for our spot, finding it suitably flat and grassy and well-positioned facing south to capture both sunset and sunrise. The only downside was the sound of passing trains a short way away.
A weak sun slipped horizonwards between the clouds beyond the Shellhaven port, we waited a while and then put the shelters up – Col in his Rab Ridge Raider bivvy and me using my Snugpak Ionosphere. Dinner was cooked, beers were drunk, gear and outdoor experiences were shared. Some soft of hawk patrolled the sky above our camp. Then it got too cold to sit outside and we retired to our shelters.
A fitful night’s sleep with me waking every hour eventually came to an end and I looked out of the tent to see a weak sunrise over the Isle of Grain. A cup of tea and then it was time to pack up and walk back to Benfleet.
Through the trees a tor-like mound came into view and with thoughts starting to turn to the next trip, was christened “Shellhaven Tor”. In reality it’s a landfill site with a digger and lorry atop it, but the effect was similar at this distance.
We just had time for a final pause in the Station Caff for sausage and bacon rolls and more tea and then parted with plans to meet up again soon for some longer walks.