Last Saturday I locked up at work just after 5pm, was home by 5.30pm, rucksack packed and back in the car with my son by 6pm. The reason…to head to the Mourne Mountains for an overnight adventure with my youngest child!

The weather had been super lovely all week, but I’d heard rumours floating around that it was to break that very night and that rain was lurking just beyond the horizon. Undeterred, we made a quick chip-shop stop for tea and ate in the car while listening to the radio as we headed for the hills, settling in to our one-to-one time together. The sky seemed to grow darker by the second and I knew we would be doing well to get our little tent up before nightfall.

Once we arrived at our chosen wild camping spot – no showers, no loos, no other campers, no phone signal…we quickly teamed-up to erect my bargain £4 charity shop 2-man tent while I inwardly hoped that it had no invisible holes which may cause leakage should it rain in the night.

No sooner was the tent up than darkness seemed to fall almost suddenly onto the landscape, cushioning us in an eerie stillness. With no street lights or people around, I was aware almost immediately how noisy life is for most of the time and knew that I definitely was in need of some peaceful time spent in nature!

We donned our headtorches, linked arms and headed for a nearby mountainside for a short trek in the darkness. I could sense my son’s excitement at our ‘late-night’ torchlit adventure in the wilderness – it was in reality only after 8pm but felt a whole lot later! We walked and chatted in hushed tones – him telling me about his rugby practice that morning, his week at school and his friends. I happily listened to his stories as we padded along a route we’ve journeyed many times by day but which had taken on a whole new persona in the shadows – I was informed often that ‘this is so much fun!’ and felt myself inhale refreshingly deeply for what felt like the first time in weeks. September is a crazy busy month with the back to school routine and the lurgy which accompanies it is no help whatsoever, so I was feeling incredibly grateful for some wild time with no agenda other than to be present, happy I had nothing to organise and no internet access – bliss!

On return to our tent, our immediate priority was of course toasting marshmallows on our tiny camping stove, because let’s face it, when you’re 9 years old, gooey marshmallows are of major importance while camping! We enjoyed our treat as we sat side-by-side looking out into the night. We giggled at all sorts of silliness and as my son grew quiet, I knew he was almost ready to hit the hay. We layered up in baggy tracksuit bottoms, cosy socks and long-sleeved tops, knowing full-well from experience that a night spent under canvas can turn chilly. We had no sooner zipped up the tent and burrowed down into our sleeping bags, when the sound of snoring and the sound of rain on the tent began in unison! I lay there listening to the pitter-patter and my son’s rhythmic breathing, keeping close to my son for warmth – it felt good to be there, away from it all, enjoying this precious time together.

I dosed on an off, not really settling into a deep sleep all night as the rain turned torrential and very noisy and I feared a flooded tent and soggy, middle of the night trip home! But, our bargain buy did not let us down, and come morning light, my bleary eyes were grateful to find upon inspection that our stuff was still dry – hurrah!

We unzipped the tent and cooked our porridge during a dry spell before having to re-zip and eat while still cosy in our sleeping bags. The rain was showing no real signs of letting up, so we made a plan to pack up and make for home, the prospect of a hot shower by now rather inviting.

Leave no trace!

The rain poured down the whole way home and for the remainder of the day, and despite our disappointment at having to abandon plans for a trek in the mountains, we knew we had made the right decision to call it a day. We returned home, sharing tales from our wet but totally worthwhile overnight microadventure with the rest of the family before settling down with large mugs of tea, rugby on tv and smiles on our sleepy faces!


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