. It was my birthday a few months ago and instead of doing the standard, eat, drink and be merry, I decided to mix things up. I’d be turning 34 and I was wanting to wild camp. I’d never been wild camping so I was a complete beginner, but I’d hiked and I’d camped before, so I figured, why not.
I would love to tell you I planned it, but I didn’t, my husband did. He is far more of an adventure seeker than me (if that’s possible), where camping is concerned, so I left it with him to select a location. He has been wild camping before, so I knew he’d chose the perfect starter trip. We were going to head over to the Lake District and hike across to Angle Tarn Lake. This is quite a common spot to pitch because it is beautiful but relatively easy for people to get to, with only a 2-hour hike away from civilization.
I love to go camping whenever possible, but we tend to drive, pitch up and then go off. This time we were essentially hiking off to find somewhere in the middle of nature and pitching up! I was super excited. It wasn’t fantastic weather, but okay… although the heavens opened when we’d reached the summit of the hill and the mud was so bad I kept sliding down. Apart from that Mother Nature behaved herself! So, I came, I saw and I camped, but what did I learn?
Don’t take your dog!
Looking back this was hilarious, at the time I could have left her she’d annoyed me that much! So our dog is super energetic and does miles and miles walking where we live, however she decided she’d take things into her own paws, (see what I did there) and explore solo. Think back to that viral video of Fenton at Richmond Park chasing after the deer? Remember? Well, Winnie did that with a flock of sheep. We always joked she looked like a little lamb and her two favourite toys are lambs, perhaps she was wanting to join them? We can’t be sure. But would she come back? Heck would she! We dropped our bags and essentially ran uphill and across vast land to get the dog back – who was being so naughty and continuing to chase off. Luckily Nick caught her, but after that, she was on the lead. Never. Again.
Don’t over pack…
I love to hike but hiking with everything you’re going to wear, eat and sleep in is hard work. I realised when we got to Angle Tarn Lake, I had over packed. Plus I had too many layers on so was sweating an unclmfortable amount. What an idiot! So basically the hike was far harder due to all that extra weight and heat. It’s the Lake District so it will always rain, there are things like clean socks, underwear I took an extra set of are, but I didn’t need to cart another jumper with me. Also, unlike when you go away on holiday, where you use things up and leave the empties, you can’t do that here as funnily enough there are no bins in the middle of the country!
Keep things accessible
I want to really think about my packing next time, so it’s all well and good taking things with me in my rucksack, but what about things I need whilst hiking? I’m talking about my water, snacks and my camera. I constantly wanted these so attaching them to my rucksack on the straps or having things in my pockets was important. Otherwise, you’ll be having to take your bag off each time you wanted something.
As mentioned above, wearing appropriate clothing is so important. Make sure your walking boots are sturdy and waterproof. Ideally wear walking trousers, boot socks, t-shirt, fleece and a waterproof. I’d strongly suggest having a hat to walk in which can double up as the one you can wear in bed. If you keep your head warm you’ll find you’ll be a lot warmer!
Do you have the right kit?
If you’re reading this thinking about going on your first wild camp – hi there! If you’re thinking of doing it now during winter, I’m going to tell you not to do it just yet. Winter condition are 10 times worse than those in the summer months. Wild camping can be dangerous in certain places too, for example like mountain areas, meaning if you get into trouble you’ll be needing rescuing. Then you’re putting others at risk too. Just be savvy about the conditions.
Keep it easy to start with
We had a relatively short hike for my first wild camp lasting about 2 hours. I’d suggest keeping your hike short and as flat as possible, take a map and plan your route. You can get more daring oncd you start to feel comfortable hiking with weight. But the main thing is to enjoy it! If you’re hiking and hating it – then what is the point?
Go out, hike, wild camp and be safe.