A March wild camp in Thetford Forest

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!

Thetford Forest sheep

Thetford Forest sheep

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.

Thetford Forest and bike

A quiet little corner of Thetford Forest and my bike

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.

Camp set-up

Camp set-up

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.

Well hidden...

Well hidden…can you spot my camp?

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!

Me in the morning

Woodland morning selfie

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.

Wild camp breakfast

Wild camp breakfast

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.

Leave no trace

Leave no trace

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.

Thetford Forest pony

Thetford Forest pony

A wonderful wild camp in a lovely location and I slept a good seven hours or more, unheard of for me!

My top London punk songs – Another Tulse Hill Night by 999

From what I can see, kids these days don’t know what it’s like to be really, really bored; they’re missing out.

999-compressorMore often than not, boredom drives you to DO SOMETHING and in 1977 this meant finding a crappy guitar, learning a chord or two, joining a punk band and writing songs about being bored,  a virtuous circle.

999‘s ‘Another Tulse Hill Night’ describes the utter tedium of living in a dreary suburb of south London in the mid/late 70s.

What’s happening?
What’s going on?
Every day is just the same
You sit around
Or hang around
Your best friend’s the telly
You gotta get out
It’s another Tulse Hill night for you

999 Specialised in fast, poppy punk-rock, the critics didn’t like the band but we did, we knew better.

The first couple of albums and early singles still sound rather thrilling, the kind of tracks that demand you play them LOUD, I can’t help but feel energised and un-bored when I listen to 999.

My south London twitter correspondent @bobfrombrockley tells me the place is now ‘fully gentrified’ though that doesn’t mean it’s any less boring, just more banal estate agents and ‘artisan’ coffee shops.

I passed through Tulse Hill a couple of years ago on a bus heading south, it didn’t look like much was going on.

Wild camping microadventure blog round-up for February 2015

microadventures feb 2015At the start of the year, Alastair Humphreys called for people to live more adventurously in 2015, challenging us to spend a night out in the wild, once a month for the year.

Since that call to arms I’ve seen a rise in the number of great blog posts, videos and photos of people venturing for wild camping microadventures.

There’s some great stories of adventure out there I thought I’d put together a monthly round-up of ones that caught my attention.

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