By: Blonde Two
Watch out, there’s a midge about! Or rather, in the UK 500 different species of biting midges and, in Scotland, an estimated 21 billion in the Highlands and Islands alone. Sadly midges bite all over the UK and, unless you are prepared for them, these annoying little critters have the potential to spoil an outdoor adventure. The good news is that, in lesser midge infested areas at least, there are ways of avoiding midge bites when camping. Last week I was able to bivvy without (or nearly without) getting bitten inside a mosquito net made for two that Mr B2 and I bought when we were in New Zealand (if you have ever experienced New Zealand sandflies you will know why).
I had great fun hanging the mosquito net, which came, in a handy pouch, with suitable cord and a short pole to provide some width. Both nights were at DofE camp and far too warm for tents. The first night I hung it from a tree branch but it proved a bit high and didn’t allow us to tuck the sides under our mats (for maximum midge protection). So the second night I passed a low ridge line through the net and tied it between two trees (with a rolling hitch at one end and just a few half hitches at the other). Both arrangements worked well but in the wind, the ridge line net had to be fixed to stop it blowing along the line. The mosquito net pegged down at four corners and gave enough space for two camping mats and bivvy bags.
Getting into a sleeping bag, inside a bivvy bag under a mosquito net is more simple than you might expect. On a dry night, simply unpeg a corner of the net, crawl underneath, refasten and wriggle into your bags. On a wet night, avoiding touching the floor might be tricky depending on how agile you are (I am really not very) and you would need to hang a tarp to keep you dry. The net did its job really well with flying insects and we were able to lie and watch their confusion when they couldn’t reach us. It is however, not easy to keep tucked underneath a mat and a few crawling creatures did make their way inside. One particular spider seemed very proud of her new ‘web’ and was definitely enjoying picking off the midges that had got stuck in its mesh.
One thing I really like about bivvying is the fact that, as soon as you open your eyes, you can see all around you and therefore aren’t subject to night time, ‘Is that a Blonde-eating dragon or a sheep?’ thoughts. This particular set of bivvy camps were part of a DofE expedition to Exmoor and the youngsters were really interested in our ‘see-through’ tent. See-through works both ways and we discovered that, at five o’clock in the morning (every morning), we were able to ‘supervise’ packing up (they were pretty independent) from the comfort of our beds.
I can tell you for certain that the midges were biting that night and that the mosquito net worked. The only part of me that got bitten was the area that was exposed when I had a quick ‘tree wee’ in the middle of the night.
Thanks to Ju Lewis for accompanying me in this particular bivvy experiment, I think it went really well!