Monday, 22 July 2013

Wild Camping

Wild camping gives you the opportunity to extend your walks out on the hills, unrestrained by daylight hours. Nature can be experienced truly first hand, unspoilt by busy routes or climbing hotspots.  Waking up to a stunning landscape and hopefully sunshine is what it’s all about and the sense of freedom you get knowing that you have all your needs in your rucksack – it really is quite liberating!

The good news is that it doesn’t take much planning either, you need shelter, clothing for warmth, food, water and of course a bed for the night.  Once you’ve got to grips with the basics you can go camping anytime.

Although wild camping isn’t strictly legal in England, it is tolerated.  You’re supposed to ask the landowner’s permission before sleeping on their land, but it is usually tolerated provided you remain discreet and follow the basic wild camp etiquette.  In Scotland wild camping (done properly) is still perfectly legal as is the case in Dartmoor.

Never stay at one site for more than two nights as this will leave a mark on the ground.  Pitch late, pack early and best to get high off the beaten path.  Never light fires.  Leave no trace of you being there when you leave.  You should leave the site as you found it.  Be considerate of others and respect the privacy and livelihood of others.  Choose your toilet carefully in a sheltered spot at least 50 metres away from water.  Dig a 6-8-inch deep hole, and replace the earth once you have finished your business.  Carry out your toilet paper with your other rubbish. 

Camp near a clean water source.  Vital equipment includes a head torch, map and compass but I am attaching a full listing that I would take.  As you are carrying a heavier load on your back good boots with ankle support are recommended as opposed to trainers.  Stream/river or loch/lake water will be the main source of hydration which can be filtered, boiled and sterilized to rid it of any nasty bugs.  Travel as light as you can as you have to carry all your equipment and food with you.

It is a good idea to practice getting your tent up so that it becomes second nature. Make sure you are able to find a good pitch (flat, no stones and sheltered) with the thinner end of your lent facing into the wind.  You want if possible to use any slope wisely with your head being at a level slightly higher than your feet.

Remember night fall always brings a chill (even in summer) so always have adequate warm clothes.  Understand layering.  Again you need to have adequate food (also have an emergency supply) for the duration of your camp.  How greatly enhanced even the simplest of food is by the act of eating it outdoors under the starlight or as fingers of light are just beginning to pick at the sky and perhaps a dawn chorus to go with it!  It tastes wonderful.  Once night has fallen there is nothing to do (most times!) but go to bed with your head torch and a good book.

Last but by no means least – have good company!

Fraser Mackay - June 2013


Large rucksack, preferably with zipped area in base of bag to store sleeping bag – say 65lts +
Dry bags for clothing
Tent, poles and pegs
Sleeping mat or thermarest, sleeping bag (kept in dry bag), silk liner and pillow
Head torch + spare batteries + back up torch
Stove – jet boil or equivalent
Gas canister + back up canister + waterproof matches
(Watch – all fuel gives off CO3 so if cooking in confined space be aware of this!  Do not cook in the tent.)
Pan, plate, cup, and spork
Small amount eco friendly washing up liquid (so as not to pollute streams)
Small pan scrub
Water bladder/bottle
Personal toiletries
Wet wipes
Small medical kit
Hand trowel (to dig toilet hole) no paper, use moss or sheep wool!
Gaffer tape, taken off large role and wrapped around small a thin tube
Map, map case and compass
Change of clothing/socks
Hat, gloves etc
Microfibre towel
Sun cream
Sun glasses
Insect repellent
Ear plugs
Pack of playing cards
Mat to sit on
Carrier bags for rubbish/damp clothing
Spare laces
Walking poles (optional)
Clothes/boots in line with duration of hike and time of year.


What food you take with you must be what you enjoy and be wholesome to give you the necessary energy you will need for your daily activities.  Normally you would have two courses for breakfast and 2 courses for your evening meal and have snacks as needed during the course of the day.  Wayfarer pre-prepared meals are an alternative.
I would also have some dried fruit, bananas, nuts, packs of crisps (salt content), cereal bars, chocolate bars, energy chews or gels and Zero Electrolyte hydration tablets to put into my water carrier.  As a spare meal I always carry a tin of sardines.  If taking dried milk (make sure it mixes with cold water) for coffee, tea, or porridge etc.
To avoid fatigue, top up your glycogen store the evening before with a carbohydrate – rich meal of pasta and refuel regularly with carbohydrate – rich snacks such as ripe bananas, dried fruit or cereal bars on the route.
Wine – boxed wine is perfect, taking the silver bag out and discarding box + plastic cups!
Food is personal but needs to be carefully thought out.


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