7 beach bivvy problems… and some VERY sensible outdoory solutions.

Five women, one fire, a drizzly evening and a LOT of crisps. I’m grinning from a 24 hour ago beach bivvy adventure with girl mates. All the best adventures and expeditions have their moments, and this was no exception, but we employed a solution focused approach…

Problem 1 – Bivvy spot not as lovely looking as anticipated or remembered (my responsibility as I proposed it). In fact, is covered in storm debris of muddy wood, strewn plastic bottles and Portuguese Man o’ Wars (potentially deadly not-jellyfish –  fabulous colours, not good for hugging) as far up the shore as grass level (it was very windy this week).

Solution – Arrive in failing light so as to have minimal visual contact with plastic bottles and deadly non-jellyfish. Light fire (see problems 2 and 4) to make surrounding seem darker more quickly. Cover deadly non-jellyfish with rocks (they’re dead anyway) to avoid rolling on them in the night.


Portuguese Man ‘o War – definitely not a jellyfish

Problem 2 – Damp  firewood collected near bivvy spot. There is plenty (it’s been very stormy and so the beach is very flotsam-jetsam-y) but every piece is coated and soaked in brown slimey sea goo (an actual thing) due to the dank mizzle.

Solution – Take a handful of coal and some very dry kindling from home (ensure very experienced fire-making girl mate’s equally adventurous husband has chosen and chopped this kindling with a fine axe). The coal-hot centred fire will dry out the slimiest of drifted pallet wood and be wonderful for hours! In addition it’ll burn so hot that dinner can cook on it, and there will be no semi-burnt bits left in the morning. Not even a pile of ash…complete combustion (that’s fire science btw).


Always Exploring… Bel is victorious in her search for fuel


An excellent, coal centred fire

Problem 3 – Running out of wine a bit early.

Solution – Ensure excellent and long-time outdoorsy friend turning up in the (very) dark, two hours after the advance party. Said friend arrives with more wine, and a cheese course, despite themselves having had to leave their children with a neighbour and borrow a torch from a friend in the nearest civilisation on their way here. Priorities are everything in this situation.

Ace mates (pic credit must be Fi Darby as she’s not in this one!)

Problem 4 – The fire and/or blonde bivvy maidens potentially luring entire shipfuls of sailors onto the rocks. Or more likely attracting the attention of people who own large and exclusive coastal properties nearby (who may or may not be really quite famous), and who did not pay millions of squids to have cackling woman-bivvyers hanging out at the bottom of their very expensive sea-view.

Solution – Make fire in a ring of stones high enough to be a reconstructed Dartmoor hut circle. Choose bivvy spot tucked behind an extra-high rock to reduce line-of-sight to large shipping. Cackle quietly, or make sure bivvy spot is well away from any houses. Cackling loudly is fine if it is very windy (it was).  This was the only dynamic risk assessment we allowed ourselves (enough of that in the day job).


Early stages of fire. Note lack of ships being lured. Entirely down to wall structure.

Problem 5 – Sandhopper in ear, and/or others popcorning against inside of bivvy bag noisily, then hiding in bivvy/sleeping bag until you get home – consequently pinging all over the bedroom when unloading rucksack.

Solutions – earplugs apparently sorts the first two issues as well as guarding against the wave and wind noise.

  • N.B. 1 – from fabulously sensible outdoor girl bivvy mate – waves do not turn off at night. Like those trees that still make a noise falling down, even if no-one is there.
  • N.B. 2 – to self – unpack in the garden in future.

Sandhoppers lurking…

Problem 6 – Sleeping (not doing it). Caused by all manner of things…(see problem 5) plus;

  • Beach incorrectly inclined so slippage down bivvy bag – foot circulation compromised.
  • Forecast cloud clearing to provide starscape deserving of gawpage.
  • Large marine mammals definitely coming up the beach at 3am to nibble toes.

Solution – self-congratulate on each and every wake up (ie. a lot). Because it means there’s been sleep. Even if body and mind say that diddly sleep has gone on.


Happy after a long and deep sleep…or slightly delirious with tiredness?

Problem…Pervading smoky smell of bag/clothes/hair/insert other items here.

Solution – embrace said smell, allowing yourself a knowing and satisfied smile as you stink out the train/bus en route home (tried and tested by outstanding girl bivvy mate). Days later your olfactory memory will be thrown into disarray as you brush past your airing sleeping bag or coat and reactivate Eau d’Bivvy (Yankee Candle will be all over this methinks!).


When you’ve seen this as you open your eyes, it’s ok to be grinning for at least a few hours

And there it is. There were problems, we found solutions. I might read this book before the next one, or maybe we should write our own…

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