Camping Everyday Adventures Gear Sleepover Season

Tarp Camping Adventure – A Wild Night Out in a Country House Garden

Tarps in the Garden at Halecat House
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Tarp Camping Adventure
A Wild Night Out in a Country House Garden

After a rainy night in Coniston on the first wild night of our Sleepover Season, the chance to bivvy out  in the grounds of Halecat House, an English country house in South Cumbria, seemed a much more civilized option to try some tarp camping. But we had clearly underestimated the neighbours…

Pitching a tent in the grounds of Halecat House

We may be on the lawn of a country house… but we don’t have to play croquet

A perfect lawn for…. an adventure in tarp camping?

I have myself down as the Lady of the Manor, with Stuart as Lord Something or Other. OK there are some anomalies with that. Bivvy bags don’t quite fit with the image. And no one ever slept rough in the garden in Downton Abbey. But still, we can sip prettily from nice china with our little fingers pointing upward as we look to the stars. It will be a Royal Garden Party but with Adventure Tarp instead of turrets. And if the weather changes and we tire of tarp camping we can always go inside for an emergency jug of Pimms.

Terra Nova Tarp and Bivy Bags - ready for tarp camping

Here’s the overnight tarp camping bags. Some Terra Nova Adventure Tarps and Bivy Bags

Of course we have staff

The great thing about being the Lord and Lady of a country house is that you have staff to put up the tarp. The children make great staff. Once you brief them they are off like one’s racehorses…

The gardens at Witherslack’s Halecat House are flat and spacious and seem quite benign compared to the environments we’ve been reading about in Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper, the latest book Stuart’s been reading in an effort to skill us up for sleeping out.

But this is no Extreme Sleep; putting a couple of tarps up on a lawn should  be no problem at all. At Coniston we had to rig the tarps with rocks and string; this time Terra Nova have provided poles, pegs and a couple of alternative designs for rigging.

Terra Nova Tarp and Bivy Bags Tarp Camping Set up

One of the tarp camping shelter designs we asked the boys to reproduce.

But I’m not sure our staff are up to the job..

Come on boys get the tarps up

The thing about an English country estate is that the wildlife live there too. And camping without a tent leaves you open to their affections.

What’s that noise?

As the sun goes to bed we retire to the lawn. But some stay longer than others.

In the dark, the atmosphere is buzzing

Terra Nova’s Discovery bivvy suddenly comes into its own. Wrapped up in its regal red depths, with the wildlife zipped outside, Cameron sleeps like a Lord.

Halecat House Tarp Camping in Garden

All set up for a great night out? Tarp Camping on the lawn at Halecat House

In the morning, our midgy friends are gone. And so have some of Cameron’s. And we’re packing up.

How quickly can you derig then?

Soon all trace of a wild camp will disappear, restoring the country house lawn to the preserve of weddings and garden parties. Wild sleepover number two is successfully completed. Midges successfully outslept (by some). And avoided by others.

So how was it boys?

I think our wild sleepover season just got itself some bite.

Tarp Camping in the Garden at Halecat House

The morning after the night before. Looks beautiful. But beware the hidden danger.

Disclosure Note: Our thanks to Terra Nova who loaned us the equipment to bring you this story. And to Halecat House for the use of the lawn. And very comfy it was too. All the experience, views and opinions are, as ever, entirely our own. 

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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