On Saturday 18th July 2015, BUFOG once more headed out for an evening of sky watching. This time our chosen location was Kinver Edge, a sandstone area of high elevation to the West of Kinver. It was the first time we had been at that location, but BUFOG members John and Emma assured me it would be the ideal place for a watch.
As is tradition with our sky watches, we first all met at a pub for a bit of a social – The Whittington on the Eastern outskirts of Kinver. After some initial difficulties finding the correct location using the Tom Tom, I and two friends I had picked up on route eventually made it to the place. The Whittington is a nice traditional timber pub with plenty of space both inside and out. We found John, Emma and others sunning themselves in the beer garden.
Within half an hour there were 13 of us happily discussing the UFO subject under the evening sky. We were also joined by official sky watch dog, Max. Although he clearly couldn’t join in with the banter we soon designated him as official UFO detector of the night. As with the majority of our sky watches (Bonnybridge excluded) the weather was largely on our side. However despite the fact it was dry, still and relatively clear, there was still quite a bit of cloud overhead which I hoped would clear up later on.
At about 9.45pm with the remainder of the light quickly fading in the sky we decided it was time to make a move and head out to Kinver Edge. Before setting off John dished out some thin glow sticks for us to fashion bracelets out of, a great way to keep track of each other in the dark! The initial concept of one long convoy quickly fell apart but luckily the sat nav got us to the parking area on Church Lane.
After grabbing our torches and camera gear we headed off along the path which led up the slope to the top of Kinver Edge. We were surprised to find that the path consisted entirely of sand. John had set off first and it wasn’t long before we started to come across glow sticks at regular intervals which he had left as “breadcrumbs” back to the car park!
Within 5 minutes we had reached the top of the hill and put down all our gear on top of a conveniently placed circular stone monument. John and Emma had not disappointed - the location was absolutely perfect for a sky watch, with a wide open area of grass and a great view of the sky and surrounding area in most directions. Unfortunately the cloud had not cleared meaning the stars were not visible, but at least it wasn’t raining or cold.
We settled down on some picnic blankets while Max ran around the area as fast as his four legs would carry him! His owners had attached a green glow stick to his collar which was pretty much all you could see as he raced about in the dark. Our regular sky watch BBQ master Paul was on top form, and immediately got to work setting up some disposable BBQs with burgers and sausages.
Some of the sky watchers had some superb equipment with them, including a military grade night vision scope, some extremely powerful binoculars and a laser pointer which cast some stunning green patterns on the ground when set a particular way. It wasn’t long before we began to notice distant lights on the horizon. Some of them were easily identifiable as aircraft with the familiar red and white flashing, whereas others were more anomalous but probably mundane.
We then noticed a distant firework display to the North. It was at this point we realised the date we had chosen for the watch coincided with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr! As the night went on we were greeted by other celebratory sights including some Chinese lanterns which remained present for a very long time due to the lack of wind, and even the flaring glow of a landed hot air balloon, which had us all mystified for a few minutes! Later one several of those present witnessed a bright light crossing the sky which suddenly vanished without trace. Sadly I was deep in discussion with someone else at this point so missed it.
As we tucked into some fine BBQ food and snacks many of us formed a circle on the grass to discuss paranormal incidents we had experienced over the years. There was a really friendly atmosphere throughout proceedings and everyone seemed to be having a great time. It seemed the ideal time to break into a bag of Doritos Roulette which were mostly cheese flavoured but with a few ultra hot ones hidden throughout.
Shortly after midnight Paul began to set up something else he had brought along with him – fireworks! On previous watches we have sometimes got bonfires going, but this was a first for us, and possibly the first for any UFO sky watch ever. He had brought with him about 6 classic rockets to launch from the top of the hill, which anyone within earshot must have assumed were being launched due to the celebrations. However they did cause a bit more carnage than expected. Max was certainly not a fan of them, and about half of them didn’t launch properly due to the hardened soil and went off at ground level!
At about 12.45am we decided to bring the watch to a close due to the lack of stars and drive home that lay ahead. Making our way back down the slope was made all the easier by the trail of glow sticks. After saying our goodbyes we hit the road, this time without the police turning up to find out what we were up to! It was certainly a great evening, and we will likely be back to Kinver Edge in the future for other watches.<