It was mid-July and so far I had enjoyed only one wild camp since the start of the year.
And then, unannounced, a completely free weekend turned up. The week prior to the camp I nervously watched cruel weather fronts move up, down, and across the south-east; rain and cloud; seemingly a typical English summer, alas.
It didn’t look good for the weekend, and then suddenly, a break in the gloom, happy smiling suns on the weather website, the camp was on.
I took the train south to a sleepy Hertfordshire village and twenty minutes later the wood, let’s call it Barking Fox wood, was there, all inviting on the horizon.
It was early evening as I approached the wood.
Sheep nibbled lazily at grass, ignoring me as I strode by.
As I entered the wood I started to feel the usual apprehension of a wild camper…did anyone see me go into the wood? Would they come for me when night fell? Stupid thoughts, I banished them and whistled a merry tune instead.
I left the path and dove deep into the wood, heading for the edge furthest from the footpath. I prefer to camp at the edge a of wood, where there is more light, a view other than just trees, and a greater sense of security.
I pitched-up just before the sun went down.
I had already eaten so hadn’t bothered with packing a cook-kit. Instead I snacked on bombay mix and chocolate, all washed down with generous swigs of Irish whiskey.
I sat back in the hammock listening to the roosting birds and light breeze curling through the trees. At 10pm, I undressed and slipped into my sleeping bag. Ah! So good to be in a hammock again, no more hard surfaces, comfort! What luxury.
But of course, I hardly slept, my mind, well, part of my mind, refused to switch off. I tried more whiskey, no good, ate a little cake, no good. No sleep, pah!
I finally dropped off at about 3am and was woken at 4am by the barking fox, after whom I named the wood.
The fox mooched around a short distance from my camp, barking aimlessly for a good ten minutes or so and then stopped. I manged to get back to sleep for a bit but not for as long as I would have liked.
Shortly before 7am I put a cuppa tea on and ate a muffin. Despite the lack of sleep it felt great, wonderful, fantastic, to be in the woods again, it really can’t be beaten, as any wild camper will surely agree.
One tea led to another, of course…
Refreshed (kinda), I packed up, leaving no trace.
I thanked the wood for having me and made my way back to the sleepy Hertfordshire town where I hopped on the train back home.