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The RSPB's guide to enjoying the Big Wild Sleepout


By Emily Kench, RSPB


A Big Wild Sleepout event
A Big Wild Sleepout event

The world is a different place in the dark, full of sounds, sights and interesting wildlife you never imagined even existed!

Common Pipistrelle Bat hunting at twilight, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Berwickshire, Scotland - June
Common Pipistrelle Bat hunting at twilight, Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Berwickshire, Scotland - June

The RSPB is calling on families to camp out under the stars (in a tent, under a blanket, or even on a trampoline), toast marshmallows and experience nature after the sun goes down.

Whether you stay out for the whole night, or just try it for a few hours, the Big Wild Sleepout can help you feel closer to nature, which is vital because nature – nocturnal included - is in trouble. In the last 25 years, for example, almost half of our hedgehogs have disappeared. These beloved garden visitors are relying on the next generation to feel connected to nature and be inspired to help fight for its future.

See the natural world outside come alive, as hedgehogs and other nocturnal creatures go about their lives under the cover of darkness. Camp out in your garden or pitch up at an organised event at your local nature reserve.

What you will need

European hedgehog
European hedgehog

• A tent (a trampoline or clothes horse and sheets can make a great outdoor hideout too). Or if you’re feeling really wild, why not make a den or shelter with branches and leaves!

• Sleeping bag or duvets and blankets.

• Something waterproof between you and the ground - you don’t want soggy sleeping bags!

• A torch. One with a red filter is best. You can buy these or make your own with some red film.

Families toasting marshmallows at a fire pit
Families toasting marshmallows at a fire pit

• Firewood (if you’ve somewhere safe to have a fire and a big stash of marshmallows)

• A sense of adventure!

Step-by-step guide

European badger
European badger

1. Choose a dry, calm night (ideally a warm one) and set up your tent in a handy spot. If you don’t have a tent, you could make a shelter. Even if you don’t have a tent or shelter, you can still have a great sleepout!

2. Get a stock of food to keep you going and if you have somewhere safe for one, set up a camp fire.

3. Quietly explore your surroundings for night life (a piece of red film over your torch will mean you disturb wildlife less and get a better look), always listening carefully. You’re almost certain to find moths congregating around outside lights, or bats flitting across the sky. If you’re really lucky and quiet, you may spot hedgehogs, foxes or badgers.

Children enjoying the Big Wild Sleepout
Children enjoying the Big Wild Sleepout

4. Finally, tell some wild stories and have a comfy snooze under the stars! Zzzzz.

Feeling particularly adventurous? Sleep under the stars at RSPB Lakenheath Fen

A torchlight trail during the Big Wild Sleepout
A torchlight trail during the Big Wild Sleepout

Join wildlife experts under the stars at RSPB Lakenheath Fen! This exclusive opportunity to join us over a Big Wild Sleepout-themed weekend will allow you and your family experience nocturnal nature and camp out in a truly wild setting. Camp out between July 28–30 July for one night, or two if you are feeling brave enough. For those camping out for the weekend, there will be plenty of activities throughout the day on the Saturday to keep you entertained: such as a refreshing guided walk and pond dipping.

Booking is essential: Visit the ticket booking website or call RSPB Lakenheath Visitor Centre on 01842 863400 at time of booking to book your pitch and to provide your contact details so that we can get in touch about breakfast choices.

Prices for one night: Non-members - adults £30, children £15; members - adults £25, children £12.50. Two nights: Non-members - adults £50, children £25; members - adults £35, children £17.50. All activities, breakfast and car parking are included in the price.

For more information visit the Big Wild Sleepout website.

Children gazing at the stars
Children gazing at the stars


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