A Memorable Bikepacking Debut: Camping With Cows

I did my first bike + bivvy adventure last night (17 June 2013). What fun I had!!

(Originally posted on the fantastic BearBones forum)

I decided that for my first ‘experience’ I ought to head somewhere relatively close to home, so I chose a lovely, familiar 12-mile route through the border of the North York Moors to the foot of Roseberry Topping.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping


I know it was a school night, but the forecast promised perfect conditions and I was not let down. The wind dropped as I left the house at 8pm and it became the warmest part of the day, the trails were empty, and I was glad to be out!

The first dilemma came as I approached Guisborough. I realised I had not packed any toilet paper. After locking my bike up outside Sainsbury’s I found the bloody place wasn’t even open! Rather than take a detour in to town, I opted instead to raid the petrol station’s paper towel dispenser and took off looking rather suspicious!

Arriving at Roseberry Topping, there was still good visibility to pitch. Despite knowing that nobody would pass this way again until morning, I still felt apprehensive about where to pitch. I eventually settled on a spot in a cattle field, on a bank, backed up against a wood with perfect views of Roseberry Topping.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

“Welcome to OUR field”

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

My Bedroom

The tarp (AlpKit Rig 7) only arrived in the post a few days ago, and I had only picked my repaired bike up from the LBS that afternoon, so this was the first time I had pitched in this manner. I wasn’t overly bothered about getting it perfect, as there was to be no wind or rain. I put a few extra layers on and settled down.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

I lost a titanium peg… Next best thing


Although I have been studying the advice and help on the BearBones forum for months – nobody ever warned against camping in a field full of cows! First of all one of them pinched my handful of paper towels, so I ‘shooed’ them away. I reckon I fell asleep by 2300 but was awoken again before midnight. Three cows decided to keep making their way towards me. Not knowing if they would attack, trample or what, I kept still – that is, until they were literally within touching distance.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping


I jumped out, waving a jacket at them and they scarpered. Whether they thought this was fun or not, I don’t know – but we played this game (each round being 5 – 10 minutes) for an hour… then another cow joined in… then another two!

After a total of 90+ minutes of relentless ‘moo, hello, shoo-fuck-off’, they granted me some space, and I caught some shut-eye.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

“Good Morning Firmo”

We did the same at 0300 for a while, then again at 0430 – only this time they brought their families. This time I didn’t care, and lay for 15 minutes before tucking in to a pre-made Philadelphia sandwich (how exotic!) then packed up and was back home to make pancakes for the kids at 0630. Easy.

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

Morning View Across the Moors

Bikepacking at Roseberry Topping

Roseberry Topping: 0430

1. I was uncomfortable in the bivvy due to the bulk of the 4-season sleeping bag. Having ran a half marathon the day before I desperately needed to stretch the straight, and the only way to do this was to use the bivvy as a mat instead.
2. Don’t camp with cows.
3. JetBoils don’t come with gas cartridges. You have to buy them separate! (Idiot :oops: )


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