Winter is great, but sometimes it sucks too. There’s lots to love about the colder months but at the same time it’s hard not to miss long evenings and lighter pack weights. This past December, as the winter solstice approached my mate Ben and I thought we’d celebrate the seasonal halfway point by spending the longest night winter had to offer outside.

The plan was simple: leave work a few hours after the 3:49pm sunset, head into some nearby woods, rig a tarp, cook some food, hunker down in our bivy bags and get some sleep. Then wake up with the 8:20am sunrise, head to the local bakers for a proper dirty breakfast sandwich, and be back at work by 9:00am with a big smile and the comforting feeling knowing that for the next six months the nights would only get shorter and warmer. 

When the 21st of December came round it had rained all day and everywhere and everything was damp. We stood in the warmth of the shop looking out the window—we didn’t really fancy it to be honest, but the bragging rights alone would be worth it. Worth the grim weather, and the shivering, and the likely lack of sleep.

So we clicked on our head torches, gritted our teeth, and stepped out into the night. In reality it was nowhere near as bad as we’d imagined. The weather was fine and our sleeping bags were warm (but obviously we didn’t tell anyone that). The only difficult bit was getting out and going for it.

Feels like there’s a lesson to be learned here…