Wild Camping

I write this lying in my tent on my first wild camp. Its currently 7.33pm on Thursday 5th April and I couldn’t have asked for better weather to lose my camping cherry with, the sun has shone on me all afternoon and the wind has been fairly mild. I have Pink Floyd playing on my mobile phone and the sun is just setting behind the hills to the west. I am camped at Eller Carr Moss above Beckermonds in Langstrothdale, having parked at Kettlewell and walked along the Dales Way as far as Beckermonds before cutting up the hillside to find a nice pitch just below the ridge line.

I went for it big time today – no half measures, I carried only enough water to see me to the pitch, banking on being able to refill at one of two or three springs shown on the map. This did make me a little nervous, but I can’t carry three litres of water every time I set off for a camp, I have to rely on being able to refill somewhere. Sure enough, I found the first spring I aimed for, called Robin Hood’s Well. Its not exactly what you’d call a well, its just a bubbling pool of water in the hillside covered in moss and surrounded by boggy ground. However, there’s very little detritus in the water I collected and it tastes reasonable enough. Once I boiled it up and dropped tea bag in it, it was fine.

I’ve never been in the hills this late in the day before and its a completely different experience to being out and about early in the morning. I’ve just watched the sun set behind what I think is Cosh and the mist is like a live thing, crawling along the ridge line towards me. The tent will be engulfed in a little while. The temperature has dropped accordingly and l’m now ensconsed in my bag now as well.

I spend a fair amount of time away from home, not as much nowadays as I used to, but its still not insignificant, which makes it strange to me why I’m missing my wife and kids so much this evening. I have a melancholy feeling on me. Perhaps its the complete isolation of the place? Normally I would see people at the hotel I was staying at, and know that there were other people all around me, even if I am in my room alone. But up here there is nothing and no-one as far as the eye can see. I know I’m only a mile or so from Beckermonds which isn’t a village per se, its just a cluster of houses and a farm. I’ve heard their quad bike buzzing around the other side of the hill off and on this evening, so if everything goes Pete Tong I only have to stumble down the hill back to civilization.

Its 9.00pm now and I’ve just had another brew and a few pieces of chocolate for my tea. I had brought some beans and sausage, which I could heat up easy enough in my kettle, but to be honest I didn’t feel that hungry tonight, the chocolate worked just great. I also brought my little bag of wine gums that was kindly included in my order from www.backpackinglight.co.uk, they will be my treat before bedtime.

It’s morning now and I had a fitful night to be honest, the mist completely engulfed me and the temperature in the middle of the night must have been hovering above zero. The wind also got up and the tent flapped a fair bit, but that’s probably down to the way I pitched it. So all in all I didn’t get loads of sleep. I dragged myself out of the bag about 6.30 and got brew going.

All the kit I’ve brought with me has worked fine so far, except for the zippo. It’s a good job I brought matches because the zippo has failed twice when I’ve needed it. It has worked though, so no idea why it doesn’t light at times.

The tent’s outer skin is very damp on the outside as well as on the inside, but there’s been no condensation “leaking” into the inner skin. I did keep a bit of the outer door open to aid air flow through, but that’s not helped much.

Brew’s ready and time to get moving so I’ll finish this later.

Back home now after a great trip. There are a few bugs to iron out, but nothing that’s going to prevent me from going out again. I’ve done a 22 mile circular walk in 24 hours away from home and bagged three trig points along a ridge that I couldn’t have done in one day.

The one thing I do need to do is find some way of taking care of my feet on these sort of trips. On the walk back to Kettlewell I developed a small blister and felt two hot-spots coming up. I can only guess that’s down to not cleaning and drying my feet properly.

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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