A few years ago I was working a job where I was on permanent night shifts. It didn’t pay much and very often on my days off, my body-clock would be so skewed that I would simply remain in ‘night mode’. When I struggled to sleep on a night, I would often go out for a drive and one particular night I ended up in the Lake District.
To get to the Lake District took around 90 minutes of drive time. I had not set out to go there that night, but simply got in the car and drove somewhere, anywhere. It can be quite creepy driving in the wilds of the countryside at night if you are not used to the sheer darkness that comes with no street-lighting. Places that were once familiar during the day, become very different at night.
I crossed over the M6 motorway heading west and the first lake I came to was Ullswater. By this time I wanted a break from driving, so I pulled into a layby by the side of the lake to stop for a while. As it was a fairly warm summer night, I decided to get out of the car, have a bit of a stretch, and a sitdown by the lake shore and just sit and watch for any activity on the water. (I’m not sure what I was expecting to see!) The water had a calming, relaxing effect as it lapped against the shoreline of the lake and I heard a rhythm forming in the gentle noises it was making. ‘Must be a light wind’ I thought to myself.
After about five minutes, I heard what sounded like a muffled cough and then felt a nudge to my right elbow. I turn to see what had nudged me and to my horror I found myself face to face with a badger.
I had never seen a badger in the wild, but I knew they could be really vicious when cornered. I froze in fear. He looked at me. I looked at him. He gave me another sniff. I started reaching into my left pocket to try and get my phone out to grab a picture of him. Before I could begin to lift my phone from my pocket he was off and away.
I have never been that close to a badger since. I sometimes wonder what was going through his head as he checked my out. I’ll never know, but for me it was a unique encounter I will never forget.
It just goes to show you never know what you will encounter in the hills and by the lakes.