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Would you go to the forest alone?


jonathan
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Besides being freaked out by the night life, just wondering about the safety aspect of going alone (I don't really know anyone nearby who's into the hobby). Have you or would you ever consider driving out to a forest clearing for a session on your own? Near me are some very quiet forest tracks, frequented by some walkers during the day but I've never been up there at night. It's just single track forest roads, Forestry Commission stuff but open to the public, some are tarmacked.

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Hi Jonathan... I was quite disappointed when I read your post! ... I thought it was an invite :D

But seriously, I think I would be very warey about taking anything expensive out in such places by myself.

so for me it would be a no.

Shame though because it probably would be fine but its just that niggling worry about every noise you'd hear...

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Sounds like a good premise for a horror movie! I think I'd be too nervous...

More seriously, why not check out your preferred site for litter? Empty cans and bottles probably spells teenage ruffians ;)

I know one viewpoint which is popular because it has a car park area next to it, no idea of night time activities but I imagine there's probably a few bombing around the forest tracks near there in their Vauxhaul Novas trying to impress the girls on the back seat. If I can avoid those areas I would probably be fine.

A few night time reconnaissance visits may be in order.

Edited by jonathan
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I would just don't go to the cinema to see the remake of The evil dead before you go or you won't go anywhere I remember watching it when it first came out scared the life out of me :evil3:

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Have gone alone previously to Salcey Forest, but was very uncomfortable, had intended to stay twice as long as I actually did, so I now try to persuade the wife to come along, but it's not much fun for her, so I now tend to stay closer to home.

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You need to recce a site that has a huge clearing, that you can get the car too, which is off the beaten track. Chances are if you choose the one thats most open you will be left alone and have a good combat indicator of anyone approaching. Park your vehicle in such a way that your exit destination is to the front. Keep kit to minimum, Only have out what you need equipment wise and place the rest away. Ie If you get something else out place the first item away. Tell someone where your going and when you expect to be back.

Be careful on your recces and try not to choose an area that is frequented by "doggers" :eek: lol otherwise you may see more than stars and get challenged by the law. I live in Sherwood Forest and can think of several sites that are fantastic.

I'm sure you will be fine, keep your wits about you, choose wisely and enjoy!

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Not a forest, but a week ago I drove out to a lake on the Denbigh Moors on my own at 3am. Nobody around for miles. Only the wildlife. I wasn't too worried about being savaged by a rabid sheep, and didn't feel like going for a swim so wasn't bothered about the ill-tempered pike in the lake. I didn't stray from the path so wasn't too worried about snakes or anything like that either.

Having said that, I didn't take a lot of equipment with me. The only worry I have of taking my telescope up there is that there are a lot of parts, and I don't want to leave anything behind as it's an hour's drive!

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been to muirshiel park near glasow up in hills with no lp carrying my 127 mak through the forest and out to the windy hill moor was amazing how dark it was .no werewolves or thief's were seen although i did see some badgers a fox and a few deer[well there eye's with my torch] was amazing night and well worth the trip although a few other people would have been nice

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You need to recce a site that has a huge clearing, that you can get the car too, which is off the beaten track. Chances are if you choose the one thats most open you will be left alone and have a good combat indicator of anyone approaching. Park your vehicle in such a way that your exit destination is to the front. Keep kit to minimum, Only have out what you need equipment wise and place the rest away. Ie If you get something else out place the first item away. Tell someone where your going and when you expect to be back.

Be careful on your recces and try not to choose an area that is frequented by "doggers" :eek:lol otherwise you may see more than stars and get challenged by the law. I live in Sherwood Forest and can think of several sites that are fantastic.

I'm sure you will be fine, keep your wits about you, choose wisely and enjoy!

You say you know several sites that are fantastic, I'm sure you mean for astro, and not for other uses you mention - Phil

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I do it's a small tarmac carpark just off a quite road, you get about three cars past in a session, yes it is scary the first couple of times, but you get use to it. I've been told that it is used for [removed word] (whatever that is) but I've never seen it and I have a large base ball bat as a “just in case”.

It is a shame we have to say and think like this in our own country, but the truth of the matter is you have very expensive gear and there is ebay for their outlet.

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Take a look at some tiny campsites who may be registered as Certified Sites on the Camping & Caravanning website.

They are usually in a dark area and are not public places - off season they won't be full of campers and you'd have the site to yourself! You could camp there with a scope for the one time and explain to the owner that you'd like to use their site to observe in but not necessarily stay all night - you might be lucky & they may offer you a discount...but if not, £14 pitch fee here and there for a few memorable, safe observing sessions a year is WELL worth it.

Edited by Beulah
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The wildlife is not to be worried about only thing I've seen whilst viewing was a rabit and I think that was more shocked to see me than the other way round!

Ears open as we all know cars make lots of noise and more often than not they will drive off when they see someone else there that's not into what they are.Idiots tend to stay in populated areas so the chances of trouble are remote.

Keep your mobile charged and as others point out inform someone where your going if only by text.

Find someone to go with is the safest option but if not stay alert and safe.Equipment can be replaced by insurance at worst leave it!

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I certainly think it's worth doing a recce first as I would imagine the activities of the any local 'Kennel Club' will vary between during week nights as opposed to those during the weekend. Ultimately you need to look for a spot that is a little awkward to get to and of limited parking capacity thereby reducing the 'attraction' of the above club. As remote as some forest locations are, the very fact that trees are nearby are going to place additional limits the amount of sky that you can view but at the end of the day its observing under a dark sky that matters in the end. It would be great if you could attract at least one other local astronomer to go along with you as it would also make for some company when you open the obligatory box of Jaffa cakes!

Clear skies

James

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Yes, I would. Yes, I do - without giving it a moments consideration.

Personally I blame the media for grossly exaggerating the dangers of, well: pretty much everything. At a guess, I'd say it's just as safe as observing on your own in your own back garden - just a little unfamiliar until you get used to the sights, sounds and smells. In fact depending on what your partner thinks of your nocturnal activities, or what the neighbours mistakenly imagine you get up to, it could be a dam' sight safer.

Just remember to take a mobile phone with you in case you have an accident (far more likely that meeting a baddie), get cornered by a demented wildebeest (still more likely than meeting a baddie) or your car breaks down.

Edited by pete_l
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You do get used to it after a while but it can be quite spooky. :smiley: The more rural the better as it is only people that are a pain.

Have gone alone previously to Salcey Forest, but was very uncomfortable, had intended to stay twice as long as I actually did, so I now try to persuade the wife to come along, but it's not much fun for her, so I now tend to stay closer to home.

Next time you want to pop over there give me a shout - i will be happy to join you :smiley:

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You do get used to it after a while but it can be quite spooky. :smiley: The more rural the better as it is only people that are a pain.

True. Well worth checking out what kind of litter is lying around. I prefer open moorland to the forest - less obstructed skies too.

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The biggest concern I'd think is with tripping in the dark and damaging your equipment rather than theft surely? (Just make sure you've got plenty of lighting and backup lighting)

I mean how many rogues, thieves and murders do you think are stalking the most remotest areas around at the most unlikely hours just in case someone happens to lug hundreds of quid of equipment out to them.

Personally my dark skies are often 30 minutes to an hours walk away from the car and my most pressing concern is never for the stuff that I've got with me, more for my poor car stuck in the middle of no-where all on it's own.

I'm not even necessarily as worried by thieves having the tyres or smashing the windows to steal my disposable hand-warmers, more that the police might declare it or clamp it... or some carpark owner decides he should lock me in or ticket me.

Or the impending embarrassment that is returning to your car to find others entertaining themselves and others in their vehicles. TBH it's not happened yet but, I imagine that's specifically because I do go "out of the way" and perverts, I'd imagine, are pretty lazy...

have run into a surprisingly large number of people who simply sleep in their cars overnight and the occasional campervan owner who will come out to check his tyres with a crowbar every-time he hears a car pull up.

The worst thing is the foxes that sound like screaming women/children in agony.

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No, no, thrice no!!

My imagination is totally out of control. It would take just a fraction of a second for my mind to turn the slightest unexpected sound or other stimulus into fight or flight response. I don't fight so that'd be me gone in a flash. The gear would have to stay there until morning.

My preferred dark sky site is the decking of our caravan between Shap and Penrith. I still get spooked there!!

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'Blair Witch' was the classic Forest horror movie.

However forests are fine, just one problem at this time of year. You might not be able to stand still for too long due to the midges.

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