What’s the attraction of wild camping?
I really do like to do a bit of wild camping, but why? What is the attraction?
I haven’t really done a lot of wild camping. Most of mine has been done when I have been walking National footpaths. A few times it has been with friends spending a couple of days in North Wales, or The Lake District.
The air feels alive
Maybe I like to camp wild because I like to be close to that which is natural and alive. So much of my time is spent indoors or in a vehicle which is ok but I like the fresh air of the outdoors. Lying in my sleeping bag at night I can feel the life of the countryside around me, the wind moving through the trees or the grass, or the sound of an animal rustling through the undergrowth. The barking of a deer or the call of a night owl. To lie there and listen to these sounds is all relaxing and calming, it makes my world bigger, and the air feels alive.
Of course you can’t beat the experience of being part of a beautiful sunset or a fresh morning. The colours and shades, the very atmosphere embraces you and takes you in, all sharing their wonder with you. When you wild camp there is the freedom to camp almost anywhere and be a part of these experiences, especially in parts of the country which are not so easily accessible by road.
Wild camping legally speaking
Legally speaking the only place you can wild camp in England is Dartmoor, anywhere else you are trespassing. I am told that most farmers and landowners don’t mind people wild camping so long as we don’t cause any damage or leave any litter. Whether this is true I don’t know, I have never had any confrontation with a landowner but my biggest apprehension is that I have just set up my tent for the night then over the brow of a hill comes a figure with a grumpy face.That is why it is best to set up late and leave early, and try to find a discreet or hidden spot.
Wild Camping Kit
Recently I used a Snugpak Ionospher tent. It is a 1 man tent which is low and coloured dark green so it is ideal for stealth camping in the wild.
I have never used a bivvy bag, I have spent single nights with just a sleeping bag, I have slept under a tarp set against the side of a minibus, but my personal preference is a tent. Especially if it is going to rain in the night, getting up damp in the morning is not a pleasant experience, it’s easier to deal with a wet tent than a wet bivvy bag or sleeping bag. Of course a tent is slightly heavier but I think that little extra weight is worth it.
It appeals to me the feeling of being self-sufficient having all I need on my back including my home (maybe I should have been a snail!) and the joy of wild camping is that you can set up home whenever and nearly wherever you want. Finding a suitable spot may take a little while but if you are B&B’ing it when on the trail you have got to keep going until you reach that B&B.
Weight is an issue
As I said weight might be an issue, some folk endeavour to get as light a pack as possible using a tarp and bivvy bag, I think I would like to try that some day. I have used 1 man tents when backpacking that have been around 1kg, and that’s been ok for me, whenever I have used a two-man tent there has been two of us so we have split the load.
The term ‘wild camping’ sounds a bit dramatic and some American backpackers may take issue with the term in this country. The wildest situation I have camped in is in the middle of the Cheviot hills on the Pennine way, we didn’t see a significant building or any other person for two days, it was great. But most of the time you are not that far away from civilisation in England or Wales. Maybe ‘wild’ refers to the lack of comforts, but then again with a good sleeping bag and sleeping mat who’s not comfortable ?
So maybe the term ‘wild camping’ refers more to a state of heart.
A good site for info v-g Backpacking in Britain