It seems to be the thing to do so on the shortest night of the year I joined loads of other people across the country and did something I hadn’t done before, had a “big wild sleep out” on the May.
The first question was where and on the top of the island seemed the best choice. Up next to the Main light is a flat patch of soft(ish) grass that gives the most stunning view so armed with a no more than a sleeping bag and a tarp I headed up Palpitation Brae at dusk to settle down. The nights have been so warm that I decided to not bother with a tent but lie out under the stars. A vain hope as it turned out as no stars could be seen but instead the warm muggy evening had brought out groups of eerie ghost moths wafting up and down in the half light.
I quickly settled down (there wasn’t much to do really other than get into my sleeping bag) took a deep breath and told myself how lucky i was. There was barely a breath of wind and laid out before my feet was the whole of the Firth of Forth. A necklace of orange lights stretched from St. Abbs head in the outh through into Edinburgh and then back out along the Fife coast to Fife Ness, occasionally studded with the lighthouses of Fidra, Ellie, Pittenweem and Fife Ness glittering like diamonds. As the light faded the sounds of the birds quietened, the yelling of the gull colonies lessen, a few guillemots braying and the 3 chirrups of their guillemot chicks, maybe one of the first chicks to have made the jump from their ledges and heading out to sea with their Dad.
Overhead the Mainlight revolved reassuringly, no concerns over ghosts on this night. After a bit a shower of rain passed over and I glowed with pleasure under the tarp for planning for this eventually. But darkness never completely took over, the pink glow of the sun below the horizon merely moved from Fife Ness towards the Bell Rock and then I fell asleep.
I eventually woke about 4am and in the full light felt slightly vulnerable. I knew that there would be no visitors on and the Lowlight photographers would be in bed but still it felt slightly uncomfortable lying around in the open so I headed down the hill and back to my other bed. What a treat to be able to experience the island this way…..and no midges as well.
Read more about the RSPB Big Wild Sleep Out