Thursday, August 10

Where to wildcamp?

Tarn Hows - not a good site to wildcamp!

A recent thread on Outdoors Magic got me to thinking - how does a new person start out?

I sort of slipped into the outdoor scene via the usual route - den building as a kid, scouts, teenage adventures, YHA and then revisiting past haunts.

I wonder - is that still an option for today's risk assessment obsessed culture?

In the 70s, despite being an avid reader, information on wildcamping was few and far between.

At the local libraries I would find the walking/camping/climbing shelf (usually just the one!), start at one end of the row and each week select a few books to learn more about the great outdoors.

At that time the bobble hat and funny rucksack ruled & the phrase 'Rambler' would quite often raise a laugh if used around polite company (Admit it - you've already got a picture of a short fat funnily dressed bloke in strange clothes) No the culture at that time, away from real 'outdoor' locations, was keener on disco, flared trousers, Ford Capris & getting beered up. The industrial Midlands. Sweet

A few lone authors, mainly American, included some reference to camping away from commercial sites, but tents (and packs come to think of it) were terrible cotton duck affairs, heavy and liable to get heavier as they never seemed to dry out. Any of the newer technical gear was way out of my league due to the cost and availability. And we're talking the pre pre Gore-Tex era here. Nope - army surplus shops (real ex-army stuff) were the main suppliers. Oh and Oswald Bailey; Does anything change? lol

Camping books gave lots of advice on selecting a site, pitching the tent & cooking, but the only real off-site information came from 'living off the land' books, not necessarily that practical for a kid growing up in a large conurbation.

Moving towards the present day UK authors, such as Chris Townsend, started to produce thought provoking material with the subliminal "Backpackers Handbook", now on its 3rd revision - chock full of advice and good ideas based on his own personal experience of actually doing it, rather than just writing about it.

And with the advent of cheap pcs and greater internet access the floodgates opened up. The benefit was greater access to information across the globe, and then more books appearing as people realised the experiences and advice they were talking about on-line were relevant to more people than just themselves.

But what's this all to do with finding a wildcamp spot?

Easy. Research. Read. Search the web for like-minded people. Hang around outdoor forums. Contribute. Ask questions & think for yourself. The basics are all out there.

To quote a response I posted recently (sounds pretentious quoting myself)

'Get a map out and check for the blue bits (i.e. water). Pick up one of the books that already give indications of locations (e.g. Lakeland High Tarns - John Drews) By publishing major routes they're now pretty well known.
Such spots are likely to be busier, but if you want a taste of wildcamping it should help give you some indication of what to look for. Expect company if it's a weekend, bank holiday or school holiday.

If you do find a good site (and you will once the outdoor eye is focused) there's a certain wariness of passing it on until you establish the credentials of the person involved, and then usually it's person to person.

Why? Well to many sites have become places for party animals, especially near to a vehicle track which can kill a wildcamp site off for years.

Be aware of other wildcamper's solitude. Some welcome company, others won't.

Leave any spot like you found it when you arrived!

There's a number of excellent websites that give indication of areas, without stating the precise location, but a bit of map reading and on the ground research usually does the trick"

See told you it was easy.

Do it.
Make mistakes.

Dr John signing off.

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Thats one thing I found useful with the backpackers club.

When I joined I had never backpacked before, and my first experience of wild camping was with the club, I don't think I would of gone and done it on my own.

I think it good to learn from experienced people.
I'd agree George, assuming you know they're around, and assuming you can recgonise that they have experience
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