Another Summer Solstice has passed, and with each and every one of them I become a year older. I have to say I was never a fan of my birthdays as I could always feel the blues creeping in, no doubt many people have experienced the same to some extent. Such as feeling over emotional and needing to be nurtured like a newborn baby, re-experiencing the moment of birth once again on a somatic level and releasing all the stress and trauma from it. With each year I age, I am drawn to the wilderness more and more. I think there is something special about giving yourself an experience of wild camping especially on your birthday – when you are most vulnerable. It’s like a taste of survival amidst the wilderness, being surrounded by nothing else but nature. When we are accustomed to everyday comforts it truly seems to frighten some people to give them up for a few days. To me it has become the greatest tool to aid rebirth, true self reflection and my favourite soul food. Just the thought of the wild summer solstice and birthday camping gave me goosebumps for weeks.
This year I was long overdue a break. Me and my friend Kim were looking at some places where we could go camping. We were thinking of visiting Snowdonia as it looks like a magic elf land, but somehow ended up planning it in Dartmoor instead. Firstly it’s wild camping friendly, Meldon Reservoir is good to swim in, and the area is gorgeous! The five of us going together were really excited about the experience to be had, but had no clue what was ahead of us. Carrying tents, sleeping bags, food and water just enough for 3 days, we made our way into the hills. We didn’t anticipate how hard it was going to be to climb the steep slopes with all the weight on us, but we made it our commitment to find a remote place near water. After all the hard climbing, aching muscles and many short breaks on our camel hike we finally reached the top of the hill. Relief and joy was overflowing! Even more so when we realised that we were only a 100 meters away from the most beautiful spot with a mountain stream, drinkable water and a great view. We instantly started unpacking our tents in this little haven.
After all was set, we collected some fire wood. Since we wanted a full experience of living in the wilderness, we even used flint to make fire! Many minutes of effort passed before we had our own natural fire pit, with flames kissing cold naked rocks. We wanted to settle as we were all tired, but still needed to re-park our car, as there was no overnight parking by the reservoir. The closest place seemed to be by the UK’s quirkiest pub 3-4 miles further down the road, so four of us decided to go on this mission and left one guarding the fire. Our original plan was to re-park the car and go for a swim in Meldon Reservoir. As the distance and terrain seemed reasonable on the map, I thought I could get by wearing my flip flops. It was around 30 degrees Celsius outside, and I already felt overheated after the walk up to our wonderful camping spot. Little did I know that on our way back we would face possibly some of the roughest terrain any of us had ever hiked.
We parked the car and started our walk back. In the background we could see beautiful rocky fields full of wild horses and foals. I was overjoyed with all the beauty but felt sad for not taking my camera with me as everything looked so magical and idyllic that evening. I became even more excited as I found plenty of feathers and a huge amount of sheep’s wool lying around in the fields. Being a true nature hoarder I started collecting it all and daydreaming about what type of yarn I could spin with this wool. Our walk seemed very easy and full of chit chat, we kept on checking the map for which direction to go in. As we were appreciating sheep and horses in the fields we all walked into a swamp. It was so boggy, we had a hard time keeping our feet dry, jumping on lumps of grass to avoid the mud. It didn’t take long for our feet to be soaking, but we were still quite cheerful, thinking that the worst was behind us. We knew that before we could reach the area we were camping in, we had to make our way down a very steep hill, only to find that there were no paths. The only way down seemed to be through the long, wild and slippery grass and lots of prickly bushes. There was no way back, we just had to brave up and do it. It was really difficult to see where to place your feet, we were slipping even in hiking boots. The only way to remain stable was by holding onto clumps of grass whilst trying to step around the thorns. All of us eventually made it to the bottom, thinking to ourselves that it was about the most ridiculous thing we had done. I still cannot believe I walked in my flip flops!
Three hours or so later we made it back to our campsite, where our friend Dovydas, who stayed to look after the fire, welcomed us with food. Fire baked potatoes and veggie sausages never tasted so good in my life. We were exhausted but soon eased into deep and long conversations, watching the sun being replaced by night. I couldn’t help but sink into all the beautiful energy around me, a faint milky way highlighting the sky in the background. I hadn’t felt such a strong connection in a long time; feelings were intensifying, making me fall in love with everything and everyone around me.
I was a little sad when it was time to go to bed, but was ready for a relaxed and good nights sleep. When I entered my tent the wind was making a lot of noise. I started easing to sleep when all of a sudden I heard steps outside our tent. My hubby was next to me, so I asked if he heard anything, but he was convinced that it was the strong winds playing tricks on my mind. I know it was really windy high in the hills, but swore I heard proper footsteps! My heart sunk to my feet. After some long deep breaths I eventually managed to calm down my panic and by the time I was fine, it was exactly 15 minutes after the time of my birth. It made me curious; perhaps I was re-experiencing the moment of my birth and all the paralysing fear of the unknown that I’m sure every baby goes through. It was a big revelation, especially as it felt as though my body remembered all the emotion attached to the experience. Slowly I started sinking into the night and my overactive thoughts fell asleep, I was beyond tired.
I woke up to find out that I had only slept for an hour. The sun was rising and I decided to take some photographs, being awake already. Every ray of sun made me feel sleepier and happier at the same time, as the sense of a new day emerging was powerfully refreshing. I could barely keep my eyes open, but couldn’t stop appreciating the magic ritual of the morning sun. After some time I gave up on photography, sat down on the rock and started meditating. It was so special – a little summer solstice meditation with a ridiculously amazing view, and as I later remembered – the first time journeying inwardly and knowing myself as a 26 year old. The feeling of a new me had sprung, as I was making little notes in my head about changes I wanted to make in myself. One of the biggest things I want to learn this year is to stop second guessing. The power of intuition has always guided me and took me where it is best for me to be at that moment, but I can’t say I always followed it faithfully. With this inspiring thought of change I was taken back to the dream world.
I was woken up by an intense heat, the sun was set high in the sky and didn’t think twice to reduce the temperature, not even a little bit. We soon made the decision to re-park the car back in the original car park, as it would’ve been difficult to walk all this way with heavy backpacks the next morning. All we wanted to do was soak our bodies in the reservoir, and this time (we never made it there for a swim the day before) we made it our priority to do it after the task was complete. It was another incredible day spent, with a long hike (much easier route this time), a swim in wild waters, napping in the shade and connecting over fire and chats.
We also witnessed a storm approaching from the distance; it looked like big mountains, made of pink clouds at first, soon painting everything in black and fortunately just missing us. I couldn’t stop pondering the idea that some greater force was at work, protecting us from a disaster. In general, the contrast between all the experiences had, was making me more sensitive to everything, as if I could feel the slightest change of energy in the area. It became almost unbearable when we needed to go back to society. Everything seemed quite hostile and unnatural. I am truly considering living my life in a tent now. I suppose it suits my character better 🙂
I travelled quite a lot when I was younger, but I can truly say that this was the most incredible journey of my life, exploring wilderness with four extraordinary people, and making some deep and powerful connections. How did you spend your Summer Solstice? Did you feel like it influenced you in any way? Let me know in the comments below. Lots of love to you all! ♥