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A Year Of The Family Biving Begins

Posted on July 19th, 2013
Biving at Halecat House

Article by Kirstie Pelling, The Family Adventure Project

As a mother of three who has camped all over the world, I find a tent a safe environment. The midges can’t get in. The toddlers can’t get out. It’s always been as simple as that. I’ve shared a field with festival goers, cows, goats, ants, youths in fast cars and drunks slurring in a range of different languages. But it’s all been ok because there has been a canvas shield between us and them. You’d think our tent had magical powers, the way it has always kept the world out as we slept.

Could we take away our security blanket?

So even as I vowed to make 2013 our year of the bivy, I had my doubts. Would I be brave enough to remove that breathable comfort blanket and actually sleep under the stars? More to the point, would I be committed enough to let my kids?

Private field camp

Terra Nova Discovery Bivi Bag

Discovery Bivi Bag


A field in the depths of the Lake District seemed like a good place to start.  It was private land so no one would bother us (we had permission) and we had a guide on hand from outdoor company River Deep, Mountain High to help us erect some kind of shelter. And it was summer.

Allegedly. From the moment we lodged the last rock on the tarp to hold it down, it poured with rain. I say ‘rock,’ because we forgot to bring pegs. Well, we thought we were bivying, not camping.

But the kids didn’t care. Not when they were tucked up in their Terra Nova Moonlite Bag Cover, Discovery and Jupiter bivy bags. As they said goodnight on walkie talkies from their rainbow of snug bags, they decided they liked bivying.


Country house sleepover

Cameron’s birthday came and we were invited to stay at a country house. Cameron fancied an eleventh birthday bivy, so we got to work on creating a makeshift camp on the extensive lawn. It seemed the perfect camp spot, pan flat, with a view over Morecambe Bay and Arnside and this time we had pegs and rope. There could be no trouble in paradise we thought, as we lay down to look at the stars.

And then the neighbours pitched up. Midges, the enemy of bivy. We weren’t even in Scotland for goodness sake! By midnight, thoroughly bitten, everyone retreated indoors apart from Cameron. His birthday treat was a night in the midge busting Discovery bivy bag. All sealed up, he had a very comfortable, bite-free time. Either that or his cloud of midges were vegetarian.

Biving at Halecat House

Biving at Halecat House



Summer solstice micro adventure

On our third bivy I watched from afar. From a conference in London. I lived vicariously and jealously through Twitter and Instagram as the rest of the family set out on a summer solstice micro adventure, inspired by an Alistair Humphries challenge.

They went to Farleton Fell, they pitched, they slept, they walked out, and still got home in time for band practice on Saturday morning. We were turning into a family of bivy professionals.

So what next

We have a bivy tick list. You knew we would didn’t you? It involves mountains, caves, beaches and valleys. We have a 12 year old, an 11 year old and a 7 year old with three wild camps already under their belt. (If you can call a country house a wild camp.) We have some skills; we know how to put up a tarp, and where to pitch to keep out of the wind. We know which bag to crowd into if the midges come to stay. The solstice may have passed, but the summer is just beginning. In a week, we will head down to The Balkans, to sleep out under their stars.

The year of the family bivy continues…


Author Bio

Kirstie Pelling is co-founder and Director of The Family Adventure Project, on a mission to make family life active, adventurous, outdoors and fun. Read more adventures on the blog, or you can catch them on Twitter, G+, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Catgories: Adventures

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