Stargazing Slow Adventure on Harting Down
Why rush through life when you could stop, ponder and truly experience the world around you? The belief that spending meaningful time being, living and journeying outdoors can positively refocus your mind and boost your well-being is what lies at the heart of Tor McIntosh’s new book Slow Adventures. The core ingredients of slow adventure – experiencing the outdoors at a slower pace and connecting with nature-rich places – inspired each of the activities that make up this book. Try out for yourself with Tor’s tips for a Stargazing Slow Adventure.
by Tor McIntosh
I’d decided to suss out the stargazing experience at Harting Down – an area of ancient chalk downland in West Sussex – based on its inclusion as one of a handful of Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the South Downs National Park. Despite its proximity to the heavily light-polluted areas of Greater London, on a clear night there it is possible to see up to a thousand stars with the naked eye – in stark contrast to the fewer than a hundred stars visible in a city environment.
Night-time walking is a very different experience to walking the same route during daylight hours, which I had done earlier in the day to familiarise myself with the area. In the darkness my senses were heightened as I directed my gaze skyward. After wandering a few hundred metres along the hillside path in near darkness, I unfurled the camping mat I’d attached to my rucksack on a patch of grass and lay down, pulling my woolly hat over my ears and wrapping my scarf tightly around my neck as I breathed in the cool air.
It didn’t take long for me, a lone stargazer, to feel infinitesimal as I silently tried to grasp the sheer enormity of the universe.
It didn’t take long for me, a lone stargazer, to feel infinitesimal as I silently tried to grasp the sheer enormity of the universe. Even without the luxury of a highly magnified telescope revealing distant stars and galaxies, there were plenty of astrological delights to observe with the naked eye. And as much as it would’ve been interesting to discover new stars and constellations, I was more than happy to just lose myself in the sheer wonder of the night sky and marvel at the truly awe-inspiring natural light show taking place above me on a chalk hillside in the south of England (even if it did lead me to dwell on the larger questions of life).
This Stargazing Slow Adventure along with many more mindful outdoor activities can be found in Slow Adventures by Tor McIntosh, out now.
Photograph by Tor McIntosh.