If you’ve decided you want to try wildcamping, that’s great news! In time I know you will uncover a new-found love for nature and become addicted to the peace it brings inside you. With a few steps and some planning that you can do right now, you will be out there sooner than you think.
This is a mini series of posts I’ve put together to help you make some educated decisions in preparation for wildcamping. The three key aspects I discuss are Location, Location, Location; Camping on a Budget and; Whatever the Weather. From there on its all up to you!
Location can be a little daunting at first especially if you live in a city, hours drive from anything that remotely resembles wilderness. National parks or trails are often a good place to start, just be sure to check the rules for entering national parks as some do not permit camping in non-allocated areas. (These generally tend to be quite busy anyway, and measures like so are designed to help preserve the environment so it remains pristine for the large amount of foot traffic it receives.) Please don’t pitch if there is a sign forbidding camping, and stay off private land unless you have the owners permission, especially farmland: you might thank yourself more than the cows thank you! Visit Google Maps and Streets first (or purchase a map of the area you intend to camp from a newsagent), case the place virtually. Look for things like the proximity to a water source, any steep ascents, descents or cliffs, and somewhere that won’t be too far from the car, or trail, in case you need to abort! When you have a short list of places with these considerations, visit them and begin to scout out potential sites. The best sites are free of dead trees that could fall on your tent, areas that provide natural shelter from wind and won’t be prone to flooding in heavy rain, spots away from animal tracks and, a flat ground to pitch. Mobile phone signal is also something to consider, depending on how ‘lost’ you are trying to get.
Now you have somewhere to camp. When you settle on a place to pitch up for the night, one of the things you will notice (hopefully), is the only things surrounding you are naturally occurring. There is nothing man-made; no signs of human existence at all. The most important thing about wild camping is this: That you leave the area the same way you find it. LNT is the public awareness scheme and it stands for Leave No Trace. Where you camp, there are no rubbish bins and no toilets, so please, carry your litter home or to the nearest bin and leave your secret place ready for yourself the next time you are out wild camping. Having a respect for yourself also includes having a respect for nature and the environment surrounding you, and what you receive from it.
I also want to address the issue of personal safety when you’re alone in the woods or mountains. Animals and other humans are the main concerns for individuals safety, and I can only speak here from my own experience and what I’ve read about others’ experiences online. I used to bring a small knife with me when I first started going away alone but after a few months I stopped as I found it was just to help my mind, which calmed down after a short period too.
You will hear a few of the local wildlife, some of it closer than comfort, but they are just doing their thing which they do every night. Tonight they have a guest: you. The most likely predator to come anywhere near your tent as you sleep is a fox. I’ve seen a few, smelled a few, and occasionally I hear them in the distance. They are curious but survival is the first priority for the fox. It is not going to tear your tent open and take you or your food. I once heard a story of someone who was camping in a location visited frequently by campers leaving their food around the place. Because the popularity of the place led to foxes losing their fear of man and becoming pests, the council was forced to ban camping in the area.
I have never had any interaction with or sighting of another person while camping alone – even other campers, although I have seen individuals camping outside my house beside the road a few times and everyone has respected them. I know from reading online that there are some popular wildcamping locations in other parts of the country but again, I have never heard of a story where someone was scared by another human. Many people say it is more dangerous to pass someone in the street than to wildcamp alone, and that the natural elements of weather are a much bigger threat when wild camping.