This is one of a series of wild camp microadventures I’ll be posting this year as my contribution to Alastair Humphreys’ ‘Year of Microadventure’ challenge.
This camp was in Thetford Forest, some time in the middle of March
On the importance of a Plan B
I’d decided on a pitch a few days before going out on this adventure. On my last visit to the forest I saw an idyllic looking spot under a tree, just off a public footpath that ran through a breckland pasture.
So I arrive at the entrance to the pasture and am surprised to find it padlocked and occupied by sheep, they weren’t there last time!
I was a little perturbed by this but luckily I’d given myself enough time before sundown (1 hour) to find an alternate pitch.
Having a Plan B in mind, or giving yourself enough time to make up a Plan B, is one of my top tips for any would-be wild camper.
Not only do things have a nasty habit of changing but also, the map is not the territory. What looks great on Google maps may be completely wrong in the cold light of day (or what’s left of the day) for a wild camp.
A quiet little corner
I hopped back on my bike (yes, I took my bike with me!) and cycled around for a while until I found a quiet little corner of the forest just right for camping.
It’s really not hard to find a quiet little corner in Thetford Forest, the place is HUGE. I couldn’t see one bit of litter in my neck of the woods, no evidence of any other humans at all, perfect.
With half an hour of daylight left I unpacked and rigged up the tarp.
Once I had it all set up I walked twenty metres or so away from the camp and was pleased to see how well it blended into the surroundings. I like doing this as it it makes me feel safer.
It was becoming a little nippy in the wood so I made hot chocolate laced with a generous helping of whisky. I sat back on my sleeping bag and watched the light gradually fade and night take over.
By 8.00pm it was pretty cold so I wolfed down some rations (cake and bombay mix) and slid into my sleeping bag. It was a little early for sleep so I settled back reading my kindle and sipping whisky.
By 10pm I was fast asleep.
The joys of a good sleep
I woke at midnight, greatly surprised that I’d actually fallen asleep! Maybe I had broken my “no sleep on wild camp nights” routine?
If so, then this was a great breakthrough. I usually spend ages waiting for sleep to come and when it does it rarely adds up to more than 3 or 4 hours.
I read for a while and then spent some time just lying back listening to the wind in the trees.
The next thing I new it was 6:30 am. Wow, a new wild camp sleeping world record for me!
I leant out of the sleeping bag and put a cup of tea on the burner, a big, satisfied smile on my face, THIS is what it is all about.
Tea and muffins in bed, in a forest, a fine thing to do on a Sunday morning.
I made another tea and ate some more breakfast. Feeling relaxed and lazy, I burrowed back into the sleeping bag and luxuriated in the glory of the wood.
Farewell oh wood!
At around 9am I decided to break camp and twenty or so minutes later I was packed and ready to leave.
On the way out I passed a pony, we looked at each other for a while, I saluted him and continued on my merry way back to the station.
A wonderful wild camp in a lovely location and I slept a good seven hours or more, unheard of for me!