Microadventure #6: One Night on Beacon Hill

My Year of Microadventure started so well with a spectacular sunrise at Donnington Castle. Unfortunately though, I got sick in February. Really sick. I lost a lot of weight, and came within a hair’s breadth of becoming anaemic. A microadventure was sadly not possible in February as I just wasn’t well enough.

In March when I was finally feeling strong enough to get out onto a hill again I knew I wouldn’t have the strength for anything demanding, and so I opted for the gentlest outing I could come up with and chose Beacon Hill.

So this is my “February” microadventure. In March.

February, My Year of Microadventure - MYOM

The weather forecast was good: A warm (for March) and dry overcast night, so pretty much spot on for a microadventure. There is a car park at the bottom of Beacon Hill and it’s not far from the bottom to the top, albeit a steep climb when your iron count is low.

Standing atop Beacon Hill, Burghclere
Standing at the top of Beacon Hill with a foggy Hampshire behind me.

When I got to the top and set up my bivy bag it turned out to be a little colder than I had expected. I fought my way into my bag as best I could and found myself falling asleep from exhaustion before I’d zipped it up. I woke up an hour or two later frozen to my core, deeply regretting that decision.

Otherwise the night passed in an uneventful way and I packed up early as I was in a fairly exposed location and, being a popular dog-walking location, I didn’t want to be woken by a cold wet nose forcing its way into my sleeping bag. In fact I was wrong to expect dog walkers, I didn’t see anyone until I got to the bottom of the hill, but the old mantra still holds true: Arrive late, leave early.

In fact the closest thing I saw to a dog was a fox that was eagerly hunting while I packed up. We spotted each other at the same time and we both froze, though for different reasons. He stared at me for a moment and then darted away in a panic.

A view over Hampshire from Beacon Hill
Hampshire’s gentle hills covered in mist.

I spent the morning wandering around the top of the hill fort investigating the landmarks. Yes, Beacon Hill is yet another hill fort – I seem to be collecting them!

From one side there is a gorgeous view over Highclere Castle (better known as Downton Abbey to many) and its grounds. There is also a grave for George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, a key player in the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. His grave is inexplicably kept locked behind a 6 foot cast iron fence. I very much hope that’s to keep people out, and not to keep him in

Sunrise over Beacon Hill, Hampshire
A deep red sunrise over Beacon Hill in Hampshire.

The sunrise was a surprise, it was actually very pretty despite the cloud, and seemed to happen some time after it should have done. I’d been up and about for some time when the sun finally rose and the world was already bright and alive when suddenly the red ball burst over the horizon. I snapped a couple of shots before heading off.

Before I left I found the energy, somehow, to run and then climb onto the trig point at the top of the hill, to pose for a photo. My camera’s interval timer is very short so this was no small feat. This photo had a lot of outtakes, and by the time I’d got the shot I was exhausted. But I got it.

Standing on a trig point on Beacon Hill
A photo with a lot of out-takes.

It was a very basic cut-back microadventure, but the point is I got out there and did it despite the fact I was still recovering, even if it was a month late.