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 sleeping out of doors in an unauthorised location.
Wild camping takes place under the stars (or clouds), i.e. not in a tent.  

There, that’s my definition done.

So, I went on three wild camps this year.

1) In a Hertfordshire wood (April, hammock)

A wood, a hammock, a wild camp

2) By the River Wissey in Norfolk (May, bivvy bag)

Wild camp

3) In a Leicestershire wood (July, bivvy bag)

wild camp

Do I have a favourite out of these three?  No, not really, they were all special in their own way.

The Hertfordshire wood was the prettiest location, the Wissey was the best for wildlife (Otters!), the Leicestershire wood was fun because of the wood burning IKEA hobo-stove I used for tea.

The Leicestershire camp was certainly the most uncomfortable, a yoga mat on hard earth wasn’t really a good idea. This wasn’t a problem on the River Wissey camp as I had lots of dry grass to sleep on, quite comfortable.  The hammock camp was by far the most cosy, it felt wonderful!

The only ‘problem’ I had on my camps was having enough sleep.  At most I managed three or so hours of decent sleep on each camp (same as last year).  I’m not completely sure why this is happening and will be working on it during 2014 (see below).  The sleep thing is essential as a 15 mile hike after only 3 hours of sleep is not fun at all.

Lessons learnt

  1. Leave myself plenty of time to a) find a pitch b) pitch-up.  Both can take a lot more time than anticipated, especially with a hammock.
  2. The map is not the territory. What looks great on a map and/or in Google Maps might be completely unsuitable in reality.  Always have a Plan B.
  3. Take more water than you think necessary. And then take a bit more.
  4. Knowledge of some basic knots will help with everything.
  5. Don’t forget the whisky!

Plans for 2014

More wild camps!
I want to double the number of camps next year, one a month from March to October sounds reasonable to me.  Also, I’ve enjoyed solo-camping but it would be great to do it with company.

I’ve seen a few spots I want to try out next year, this one on the River Great Ouse is one of my favourites:

River Great Ouse wild camp
Wild camp location on the River Great Ouse

My main goal for 2014 is to learn to sleep well under the stars.  I want to lie down, take a sip of scotch, look at the night sky, sigh a deep sigh of contentment and drift off to sleep for 7-8 hours.  This can’t be that hard can it?

I know it’s not purely a matter of sleeping outside since I always get a decent 7-8 hours in a tent.  It’s not a matter of comfort as the hammock camp proves. That leaves brain activity.  I can spend time convincing myself I’m safe and there is no danger whatsoever but a part of my brain isn’t believing it.  This I think is the problem.

So, the solution is to coax the unhappy part of my brain to chill out a bit.  To this end I am going to start camping out in my back garden, acclimatisation is the key here.

Between now (December) and the start of the ‘wild camping season’ (my concept) in April I can get at least four garden camps done, this, hopefully will appease the doubters in my unconscious, we’ll see.



30 thoughts on “My 2013 Wild Camping review

  1. Now’t like a good wild camp, especially if in East Anglia.
    Send me an email if you are off on another in The New Year and you fancy some company.
    Mind you, I make take a tent.
    I don’t own a hammock.
    Although I could bring the Trailstar or bivvy bag (I have 2 of those):-)

    1. Andrew, sounds like a great idea for the new year, I will drop you an email. I’m thinking of the Boudicca Way from Norwich to Diss,there are some nice looking spots for a camp along the way.

  2. Martin,

    I have the deepest Wild Camping envy! Would you ever entertain the use of a volcano/ Kelly Kettle type stove?

    Meols Express!

  3. Hi Martin,

    It’s great what you have come to and yes the brain does needs reassurance, I feel like that when I’m home in the dark.

  4. Hiya
    I agree that the whole sleeping thing is a bit of a problem. But that’s my life story. I think you are doing well to sleep well in a tent. I sleep in a dark room at home so tents let in far more light than I am used to. And then there’s all those other noises around you; I sleep alone and in a quiet room normally. The wild camp adds the whole exposure to the elements thing. But evolution-wise we are not supposed to sleep out in the open. Its dangerous. And I think that it is fear at some level that you are struggling with when wild camping. In my first few recent camps I have tried to make myself a bit safer by being off the path when I can and out of sight of humans. But you can’t hide from those marauding wild animals that want to find you in the middle of the night and eat you. So its best not to sleep too well or you might end up some hungry beasts supper.Is this helping?

    1. Hi Charles, thanks for dropping by.

      I agree with you about the evolution thing, that’s also my conclusion. I can spend time rationalising with my mind over why I’m safe but there is still a deep part of my psyche that is having none of it. However, I’m hoping this can be (mostly) overcome with practice. I envy people like Patrick Leigh Fermor who seemed able to merely throw a coat down on the ground and drop off to sleep (though of course he could have just been making all that up!).

  5. Great post! I’d love to give wild camping a go this year. The spot you’ve found on the river Great Ouse looks perfect, I’ll look forward to reading about it once you’ve managed to stay there 🙂

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for dropping by. I’m hoping to camp the Ouse in Spring, can’t wait! You should definitely give it a go, let me know how you get on!

  6. Hi Martin,

    Will do! I’ll be keeping some of your tips in mind, too. I think I’d like to go up to Scotland and try some wild camping there.

  7. Definitely Go to Scotland Rachel.
    It is full of fantastic Wild Camping, and it is nearly all open access.
    In fact go soon, because it is being devastated by Wind Turbines.
    The Monadhliath are fantastic and a bit like the Peaks on Steroids.
    April, May, June are best times and then maybe Late September or Oct
    In winter there is a LOT of snow, and in Summer BILLION OF MIDGES.

    There is also some fantastic Wild Camping in Wales of Course.

  8. Enjoy yourself in 2014. May the winds be weak and the vistas verdant.

    I daresay you’ll get in more wild camps than me in 2014, but don’t underestimate the wonders of wild camping in the winter months. If only to say you survived it.

    I’ve never actually managed one wild camp a month in a year, but I keep on trying.

    1. Hi David, I’m really keen to get out and wild camp this winter, have plans for the end of January, we’ll see : )

  9. Looking at Boudicca way myself for 2014, did sherry mans way and 11 tors or dartmoor last year, although not quite as adventurous as you I do use a small tent.
    Keep it wild for 2014

    1. Hi Trevor, thanks for dropping by. I’d love to hike on Dartmoor, haven’t been there since I was a teenager (a long time ago!). Agreed, keep it wild for 2014!

  10. I’m not sure I agree that if you use a tent, then it isn’t wild camping. The last two camps I’ve done have been in a tent. I’m using it at the moment because of the adverse weather, and as I approach the big 50, then I need some comfort. I normally use my tarp and bivi, and much prefere to camp this way, but needs must for me, I’m afraid.

    I think you have a great site, and will ‘dip in’ on occasion, if that’s agreeable?

    1. Hi Phil, thanks for commenting, I’m really pleased that you enjoy the site, please continue dipping in : )

      I didn’t mean to say that camping with a tent isn’t wild camping, far from it. I was only using the definition I gave to describe my wild camping activities that year, it wasn’t meant as a final definition,

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