I am a bloke on the wrong side of 50 (nearly 60) who sits in an office day in, day out. I love my job as a Technical Author but I do feel the urge to get outdoors regularly.
I am also a photographer who’s passion is waterfalls, weird eh? I’ve photographed many weddings over the years and I do enjoy it but I have decided to take a couple of years off and to use my camera, get outdoors and get some memorable shots for me and my family.
My wife is very patient, she has no desire to go wild camping but encourages me to get out on my micro-adventures, I’m very lucky. My two grown up kids often take turns in coming with me and so does my 10yr old grandson, he loves it, I have well and truly planted the seed in his head, I’m convinced he will be an explorer when he grows up!
As a soldier of 24 years I’d really had enough of sleeping under the stars; knackered, cold, wet and hungry were the pictures I had in my mind placed there from my past life as a squaddie. But the feeling of joy being in the outdoors has never left me.
I don’t profess to be a Bear Grills or Ray Mears type, I just like the outdoors and spending time in it with my camera. When I returned from a wild camp on a freezing January night in the Peak District people questioned my sanity and I can’t blame them. However, they don’t know how it feels and how much peace I find.
My blog will follow my experiences and show you what wild camping is like for me. I don’t expect everyone reading this to run out and buy a tent and run into the hills but if you do, I hope this blog can be of help to you.
So why wild camp?
Spending a night outdoors where no one is going to bother me, where I can photograph sunsets and sunrises, wild animals and amazing landscapes is like pressing the reset button on my soul. If its going to be below freezing I make sure I take plenty of kit to keep me warm.
Wild Camping isn’t going to be the most comfortable you’ve ever been but you can get a decent nights sleep if you think about what you’re doing and what you need to keep comfortable. Lets be honest, any idiot can be uncomfortable.
So what exactly is Wild Camping?
Well for a start, its against the law in most parts of England and Wales unless you have permission from the landowner but that makes it more fun and secretly rebellious knowing you are being naughty. However, I have never heard of anyone being dragged through the courts for doing it. I don’t normally ask permission but I have done on a couple of occasions like Kielder and the Yorkshire Dales although the latter charged me £5. Nevertheless it’s a fantastic place to go.
Dartmoor National Park does allow wild camping and there are specific areas within Kielder Forest that allows it too.
Wild Camping is about stepping outside, away from the towns and finding a remote spot where no one will interrupt your peace and quiet. Its about carrying everything you need on your back, shelter, bed, sleeping bag, food, water and any luxuries you want to enhance your experience. In my case, thats my camera a weighty Nikon D4s, I am still physically able to justify taking it with me but boy does it add weight to the trip!!
My aim for an enjoyable wild camp is to find the right location. I am very fortunate to live on the edge of the Peak District so I have enough to keep me going for a few nights! People often ask me how I know where the good spots are, I don’t, I just know places I like, some within 30 min drive from my house, some much further away. When walking or driving you may sometimes see somewhere thats made you think “I would love to spend a night there”. Well, there you have it, you just found the right spot.
Any spot you use should be left completely as you found it, “Leave no Trace” as the saying goes. If you need a dump, make sure you bury it well. The last thing a farmer or walker needs is to step into a pile of human cack.
Take litter home, be aware of wildlife or farm animals around you and respect the countryside. Its ours, its for us all to use so act responsibly and be nice!