The Icknield Way Path runs 110 miles from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, to Knettishall Heath in Suffolk.
Rather confusingly, the path is also a section of the longer Icknield Way that is made up of four paths, stretching from the north Norfolk coast to Wiltshire, more on all that another time.
I had intended to walk the entire path over five or six days or so but it’s become evident that that is just not going to happen any time soon. So I’ve decided to walk it in stages, which is quite handy as much of the path is within easy reach of train stations.
So, ideally I’d start at the start and end at the end but this isn’t convenient just now so I’m starting in the middle and heading east.
First stage: Baldock to Royston (on Easter Saturday, hopefully!)
I had been looking forward to my first wild camp of the 2014.
I had hoped for a camp in January and February, fantasising about waking up in a silent-morning wood with frost, or better still, snow on the ground. But alas we were denied a winter and instead were given an angry, wet Autumn that never quite seemed to end.
And then suddenly a break in the sodden season, a warm, dry spell develops in March and I take the opportunity offered.
Badger Wood (my name) lies between two medium-sized towns in Hertfordshire.
Entrance to badger wood
I arrived late in the afternoon and set-about looking for a suitable place to pitch-up.
I chose an spot on a flat piece of ground near to the edge of the wood, I decide to set the shelter (half of a Polish army lavvu tippi) facing the east so I could catch the sun rising in the morning.
Spot the camp!
I walked back to the public footpath that cuts through the wood and looked back at my camp, it was almost impossible to see, which made me happy.
The sun began to set, I set up my IKEA hobo-stove and made a cuppa tea, followed by a dinner of chilli-con-carne mopped up with a baguette.
An hour or so later a rising moon had replaced the sun and the wood was bathed in a silver light. I brewed up a hot-chocolate, laced with a generous helping of whisky, sat back and watched the moon and accompanying stars.
It felt good to be in the woods again.
I sat by the hobo-stove until about 10pm and then decided to call it a night. I didn’t sleep that well, I had underestimated how cold it would be and my ground mat wasn’t sufficient to keep me comfortable. So I was pleased to finally hear the dawn chorus and watch the sun slowly rising over the crest of the wooded slope.
Early morning in Badger Wood
I set about making tea.
Followed by some breakfast.
And then another cuppa tea.
It was a beautiful morning in which to laze about in the woods, sipping tea and feeding the hobo stove.
With the sun climbing high in the sky I packed up my stuff and erased all trace of the camp.
Leave no trace…
I thanked the wood for keeping me safe.
Spring morning stream
Leaving the wood I crossed a sparkling stream, it felt good to be alive.
Scottish-American John Muir (1838 – 1914) is credited as one of the first advocates of wilderness preservation in the United States. He was a prolific walker and spent many, many nights sleeping out under the moon and stars. The following lines are taken from ‘A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf‘, an account of his hike from Indiana […]
Yes, it’s the annual family journey to the French Pyrenees for some skiing. I, however, am not really a huge fan of hurtling down a mountain at 60mph, so for me it’s snowshoes and hiking. Walk 1 – ascent of the Serre de Moncamp We went up to Camurac our local, very unpretentious, little ski […]
So here’s a list of possible wild camp locations for 2014: In a certain wood in Hertfordshire DONE On a picturesque bank along the River Great Ouse In a different wood in Hertfordshire In a little wood in Northamptonshire, not far from the Grand Union Canal On the summit of Invinghoe Beacon On a beach on the […]
This is the seventh stage of the King’s Cross to Birmingham jaunt via the Grand Union Canal. On the map below you can see the stages completed prior to this one (red line), and the stage completed on this occasion (yellow line). Birmingham itself is up in the top left corner and we’re getting closer all […]
This is stage 1 of the Wild Wash Wander expedition. I had been looking forward to this walk for quite a while. Timing was everything, I wanted to be at the edge of the Wash as the sun was rising. This would only be possible if I took the first ferry from King’s Lynn across the […]
Made up largely of saltmarsh and mudflats, the Wash is a bay on the east coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire. It is one of the largest estuaries in the UK and is fed by the Rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse. A National Nature Reserve, it is one the country’s most important […]
This is the sixth stage of the King’s Cross to Birmingham jaunt via the Grand Union Canal. On the map below you can see the stages completed prior to this one (red line), and the stage completed on this occasion (yellow line). Birmingham itself is up in the top left corner, still quite far away… I […]
This is just a quick round up of my wild camping year. I’m using quite a tight definition of the phrase ‘wild camping’ here, there are a number of different definitions floating around, I’ll write a post about this one day. But for now, this is the definition that works for me: Wild camping entails […]