Friday, July 2

The Better Wildcamp Pitch

I've previously scratched a few lines on finding that Wildcamp Site, & some basic guidelines to help when Pitching The Tent.

During the last few days part of my mind, preparing for a sudden leap from the hassling everyday to a solo sojourn with Nature, has fallen to reflecting on past trips.

And more importantly what differentiates a decent overnight wild camping site from that Something Special?


That one night pitch that lives on as a special occasion to be recalled to mind as a bright jewel to be enjoyed at less happier times.

So here's a personal reflection that may chime with your own feelings. Or perhaps prompt you to share your own thoughts via the comments at the foot of this post.

Pitching on top of a ridge
Always sounds perfect for that feeling of an open perspective & panoramic views.

Typically it turns into a less enjoyable experience. The tent exposed to winds from every direction possible. And that means goodbye to a quiet night's kip as tent fabric is continually slapped around. Muttering away to itself. All the bloody night until half an hour before dawn arrives.

Add in rain showers, especially wind driven, popping by on an infrequent visit - and unless you sleep really deeply that Ideal Spot becomes just OK. Or worse.

I only ridge camp these days if I'm pretty sure of the weather conditions ahead. Better still I look for a dip in the terrain which can provide shelter from the airstream moving over the ridge top.

Riverside/Waterfall
Idyllic in theory. Ever so handy for fresh water supplies.

In practice, in the quiet of night, that background noise of moving water will take on a myriad of different voices as the volume of water changes from moment to moment. Usually something that is not consciously heard, but can rise up on the edge of sleep.

Not so much spooky, more Chinese Torture, in the wrong conditions.

Ah. Let me not forget, for some, that continual urge to empty the bladder.

All night long.

No joke when snugly zipped into a nice warm sleeping bag at 2 a.m.

I love waterside camping. I just ensure I pitch far enough away to tone down that noisy neighbour, and avoid potential flooding if water levels rise overnight.

That's ok - I hear you say. No problem with still water.

Never, ever, forget the clouds of flies that magically appear as dusk falls. All keen to great you as their dinner partner for the evening ahead.

With you as the main course.

Pointless having a lovely waterside spot if its spent hiding away in the tent.

Valley/Hillside slope
Avoids the risk of flooding from rising water. May even be great for a view up/down the valley.

Not so good for a radio or mobile phone signal if that is the sole method of entertainment & human contact. That great slab of hillside makes all the oh-so-smart technology totally redundant.

If that's not a concern of yours - go for it.

Me? Well as a solo wildcamper I need to check in with home regularly. And I do so like listening to my radio wrapped up warm at night. All part of my own enjoyment.

How about flood avoidance? Yes you're safe from rising waters. But that doesn't deter the stuff coming down on the hillside above you to make its way straight down, via your carefully chosen spot, during a heavy downpour.

Possibly at some speed and volume.

These days when hillside camping, I go for a small rise, ideally jutting out into the valley
(Drawback - see Ridge Pitch)

A hillside pitch may offer protection from the wind. But don't forget an
windless evening can turn into a wind funnel when the direction & intensity change.

That is especially true near a valley pass where the Wind Tunnel can become a serious danger in the wrong conditions.

The Perfect View
I love a View.

I'll even pick poorer spots to get them.

Which means I accept that when I'm not looking at the Perfect View (i.e. whilst sleeping most of the time) I accept whatever drawbacks come with it.

Quite often its worth the effort. That's assuming I have enough daylight hours to savour it. Otherwise - pick an alternative.

Oh dear........somehow this isn't turning out to be anywhere near as informative as I'd intended. Casting my eye back over what I've scrawled so far I realise I've somehow crossed out most locations.

Ok. Lets try another tack......

Pick a spot for the sort of reward that is personal to you, where you have the choice.

And given that choice - be aware of the less obvious drawbacks.

Then .......either willingly accept them. Or move on.

The Outdoors is a big place when your miles from anywhere. And anyone.

But that also means there are plenty of excellent spots when looked at with the right sense of mindfulness.

As you reflect on both your good & bad overnight stops, that ability to select the better ones will quickly improve.

Until eventually you realise - there are no Bad spots.

Definitely some that are unsafe.

Maybe even some that just don't "feel" right (heed that strange voice of disquiet - its there for a reason)

But for the Better Pitch its more a case of working out what is best for you, whilst applying sensible camping practice.

And eventually this latter element will become negotiable given the conditions at the time, and your own level of experience.

And don't forget that all important attitude to it all.

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Comments:
Pitching by a river is fantastic. Just not to close in case the rain comes and it bursts its bank. Still the sound of running water is something enjoy in the hills. Like the points John. I will not obey most of them :)


Word verification work was Prickies - is Google making its own language up?
 
A top-class post, John. It's a pity that you haven't added some pics to support your advice - I'm sure that you have some good 'uns that you could use.

Personally I favour pitching next to a tarn rather than by running water. Indeed, I tend to plan with that in mind, as you've no doubt noticed from my trip reports. I can't remember ever being hassled by midges to the extent that it spoiled the experience.

Hope you have a good time when you get away.

(Word = galibl)
 
Lol out John, you sum up things perfectly. As someone who has an on going bladder problem,(the surgeons are still scratching their heads) believe me, getting up six or seven times a night can become tedious. As you so rightly say, there are no bad spots but some quite undesireable spots though. Mind, campsites can have that affect too. Enjoy and may the sheep be ever friendly!
 
Fantastic post John. Personally I love the sound of running water, it sends me off to sleep a treat, that might be explained by the waterfall that's situated about 15 metres from my bedroom window.
 
Glad the tips have helped

BG - have you forgotten Easdale Tarn & the Bloggers meet a few years ago?
Good point about the pixs. I intended to do exactly that when I thought this one up. And then promptly forgot!

One to return to post Dartmoor with some examples - if I can remember this time
 
"... have you forgotten Easdale Tarn & the Bloggers meet a few years ago?"

Not at all. Hardly any midges there, compared to other places.

(Word = nesse)
 
Ah yes, midges, they regularly invite me to lunch, the problem is, I am the lunch.
 
Looks wonderful. Great reading your post as well. Thanks
 
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