Wednesday, August 16

UK Backpacking & Wildcamping Books?

A New Forest Orchid

Wednesday already and no post prepared.


I was planning to cover the 'GPS on the hills' debate, but time (like Lakeland rain) flies hard and fast; Such a subject deserves some constructive thought, based on the ire it can raise in certain quarters.

So as a quick aside, thanks to all of you who visit this site. It's heartening to get such positive feedback after the relatively short time I've been writing this blog.

Now, as a regular contributor on the Outdoors Magic forum I continually find challenging views and opinions, which fire off my own thoughts on various outdoor topics, especially on backpacking & and wildcamping. There's plenty to learn on their forum, and even more to think about. I'm nowhere near getting writer's block at present. I hope! eeeeeeerrr........ Oh yes (lol) if there's any topics you think should be covered, or would like to know more about, the comment box is not far away. Hint hint.

One subject that I've not seen raised on OM is the dearth of UK backpacking/camping books. I've just Goggled the topic and found mainly links to gap year type backpacking & US trails. So where have all the seminal reference works gone then?

How-to-do-it books are few and far between and the esteemed Chris Townsend's work has achieved a bible like status in this field.

But no; The information I'm looking for is new ideas on wildcamping routes.

As I've mentioned before I'm more than happy sitting down with a map to work out my own, but sometimes a selection will bomb. That's the nature of this pursuit, and as I become more experienced in the field that matters to me (presently that's high Lakeland tarns) I 've learnt to take the rough with the smooth. There's never been a trip yet where I haven't come off the hills smiling, even if the proposed site was not quite as expected. I've learnt to be flexbile in approach.

But it would be nice to read someone else's thoughts, and see how they can be adapted.

Each trip to the Lakes usually finds me browsing in at least one of the book shops, keeping an eye out for new wildcamping ideas on routes.

The market for these is not big, and I suspect there's a certain reluctance to name locations in print. I can appreciate the reasoning behind this, and to a large extent I'd concur, but the number of books listing routes that start and finish in the same place, taken over a day, or with a B&B stopover mostly ignore what I'm after.

Once I've made that initial climb I find it a right bugger to descend to the valley to start all over again. So I prefer to get high, and stay up if at all possible. I'll happily take the longer 2-3 day routes and work out my own stops, especially as I won't be hammering along carrying weight, but so many print offerings seem to be challenge trials, and not neccessarily that interesting. Been there. Done that.

I've discovered three offerings from UK publisher Cicerone by an author new to me, Graham Uney, but the one that interests me the most has only 6 or 7 relevant routes out of the 25 listed. Certainly these look to be well chosen (I've tried one and a bit of them off my own back) but surely the the Lake District is worth a book to itself? And nothing for the south of England yet. Dartmoor anyone?

I plan to check the series out on my next trip north as I'm sure I'll find them on the Ambleside bookshelves.

But until then any suggestions gratefully grabbed at. Winter's coming and I need to get plannning for 2007.

One of the best parts of wild camping (for me anyway) is trying to work out sites from the maps.

I have a big-ish collection of walking book and very rarely look at them now, like you say they don't cater for the backpacker who wishes to stay high on the hills.

To be honest any place in a wild camp as long as water is not to far away.

The wild sites that I`ve used and remember in the lakes at around grisedale tarn, one at the clough head and one along the high street ridge.

I think that if wild sites were in books and in the 'net they would end up getting pretty much messed up.

I think its angle tarn that has a bit of a reputation for load of litter and waste littering it.
I'd agree with what you say George. It's a balance between finding those special places, and keeping them special.

But as someone has has to hit the hills and get the maxumum out of the experience, due to the distance I have to travel up from the south, and the limited time available, a little bit of help wouldn't go amiss sometimes
Nothing will replace reading the map, but sometimes a bit of local knowledge helps, and mostly that comes from word of mouth or printed works.
I have the Cicerone book for Wales and adapted one of the routes in the Black Mountain. Actually apart from the start point (Dan yr Ogof caves, £3 to leave your car) my route was somewhat different to the book. The knowledge that my car was fairly secure was a big plus for me, and I will probably go there again. Like you I have just joined the Backpackers club, and I see that the FPD lists farms where cars can be left, so I will explore that as well.

John (also in Dorset)
Nice to hear from you John y - I thought I was all alone down here in deepest Durzet

Yes - i think taking the Cicerone as a start point for the initial ideas, and then adapting, makes a lot of sense. Once I've find a shop that has a decent selection I have a nasty feeling I may walk out with the complete series if it looks up to it.
That's more ref books to read and then gather dust for a few years
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