A morning sleep after a full breakfast and the previous night's adventures at Bempton had been just the ticket, the quiet wood I had found seemingly the perfect spot.
I sat up, climbed out of the bedroll and looked around, reaching out to retrieve first one, then the other of my shoes. Heaving myself up, each middle aged movement accompanied by it's own growning sound effect, I took a step, and as my foot touched the ground ......
Primeval muscle memory pulled me away and I jumped back, eyes frantically searching the ground for the source of the noise. Rationality fought to regain control after this rude awakening.
Perpetrator spotted I grabbed up my phone and stepped away as the stunning grey and black adder uncurled from a striking position and slid quickly through rusty brown bracken stalks.
I struggle to recall the last time I had a view this good of an adder in the wild. 20 years ago maybe on Dartmoor, or perhaps in captivity at the Reptile Centre in the New Forest. However long it had been it was too long. This encounter had been a fantastic thrill and I'm chuffed to bits I caught it on video for posterity. As I gingerly carried bedding back to the car I noticed a number of large mats positioned in a clearing close to the wood entrance, indicating that perhaps I shouldn't have been quite so surprised to wake in the company of a snake!