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Three Weeks of Garden Bivvies for Search Dogs

© Hazel Strachan

In search of home-based ways to scratch the outdoors itch, lots of people have been garden camping in recent weeks. But few can have taken it to the lengths of Hazel Strachan, who is part way through a 21-night stint of garden bivvies. To add a bit of the unexpected, she has been sleeping in bushes, among other locations, and suspended from a fence.

Haven't we all woken up in a bush at some point?  © Hazel Strachan
Haven't we all woken up in a bush at some point?
© Hazel Strachan

In the process she is fundraising for Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) Scotland.

"I wanted a change from spending every night sleeping in the house during lockdown" said Hazel, who as the fifth person (and first woman) to complete 10 Munro rounds, is more usually found on the hills.

"It just seemed boring to do the normal and sleep in a bed when at least I was permitted to sleep in my garden."

A veteran of scores of nights out on the hills, she has been finding novel ways to keep things interesting in the tamer surroundings of the back yard.

"In the first three weeks of lockdown I bivvied out for seven nights - on my wheelie bins, balanced on a board between two chairs, up high on the frame of a swing seat - very wobbly as the frame had a lot of rot - or just on my back door step on a freezing morning for something different to do in my garden."

"I've done over 100 bivvies on the Munros" she told us.

"In the hills it's fun being resourceful, imaginative and inspired in finding a spot to sleep for the night. This is the spirit I wanted to take to bivvying in the confines of my small garden.

"I've made myself a platform from a packing case from a car bumper which I found in my garage to bivvy on so I'm not limited to sleeping on the ground. It's sound if a little narrow; I've not to turn over suddenly in the night especially if I've a drop around me."

What will the neighbours say?  © Hazel Strachan
What will the neighbours say?
© Hazel Strachan

When news came that we faced a further three weeks of lockdown, Hazel realised that she needed a more definite 'project'.

"I've decided to bivvy out for 21 continuous nights to raise funds for SARDA Scotland" she says.

"It was inspiring to listen to SARDA Scotland dog handler Jonah Jones of Skye Mountain Rescue Team talk about the training of his late dog Mack. Bivvying out seemed to offer a tenuous link to those who act as 'bodies' for the dogs to find in training."

So far in her 21 continuous nights she has used a platform to sleep in a buddleia bush (in the absence of trees), and been suspended on the garden fence, a ladder holding one end and a stick the other "as if by magic."

"With lockdown I'm getting to experience a completely different side of my garden - its soundscape" says Hazel.

"I thought that as only essential travel was permitted there would be little night time noise. I was surprised that there was a continuous noise of traffic but it's somewhat quieter in the small hours of the morning. I'm now more attuned to the birds singing in the surrounding gardens: small songbirds about 5am, geese or seagulls screeching in the small hours. I'm really enjoying this - it's not the same magic and awe as I experience in the hills but this is the sound of the place I live, my home."

  • So far Hazel has raised over half of her £400 target for SARDA Scotland. To make a donation see justgiving.com

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