….if you don’t count the three essential hitches (knots) you need to master in order to keep a roof over your head as you blissfully sleep the night away in a hammock in the woods. With a mixture of trepidation and awe, a small group of us marched off to polish our wilderness skills and learn how to make our own ‘Elven hotel’ under the expert guidance of our Bushcraft instructor, Heath Dawson from ‘Firefox’. Heath promptly impressed us by putting up a Basha (the roof of your hotel) and Hammock (your bed for the night) in no time and on a very steep incline and demonstrated how with only three relatively simple hitches, one could put up a very stable shelter.

Heath’s skills as a teacher were proved as after having found suitable locations (2 trees approximately 2 metres apart) we all successfully managed to string up our hotels for the night and tentatively put all our weight on the hammocks, waiting for the inevitable crash that fortunately never followed! More magic was to follow as we returned to ‘base camp’ to find a traditional Welsh vegetable stew bubbling away on the camp fire and Heath busy rolling out chappatis. Delicious…..and especially good eaten with twig ‘chop sticks’ (forks were also supplied in the shape of twigs, the end whittled and split in two). The rest of the evening was spent huddled around the fire listening to tales of Heath’s ‘wildest’ outdoors escapades, learning the ‘ghost walk’ (no, it’s not a homage to M.J) and preparing ourselves mentally for the night to come.

Eventually the moment of truth arrived and we all went our separate ways, attempting to wriggle ourselves into our sleeping bags without flipping out of the hammocks. As Heath had predicted, sleep came easily after this Houdini style exertion and in the morning we had all managed to sleep quite well, albeit on and off having been awoken occasionally by the strange cries of an owl or the gurgling of the stream. On return to base camp we found Heath making cups of tea and looking very refreshed after a night in the wild. For a brief second I did wonder if he’d sneakily spent the night in the B& B but I soon realised that anyone who could put up a Basha and Hammock in the dark (as Heath professed) was much more at home in the woods than sleeping under a duvet in a comfy bed.

Having spent an uneventful night in a bed last night I am looking forward to the next opportunity to tie those hitches and have a little adventure… if nothing more, the next time I put up a washing line I know my ‘running hitch’ will come in useful! Thanks Heath for a brilliant ‘Wild Night Out’ and to all the others in the Elven Hotel who made it such a great experience.

Ali – Guest at the B&B

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