Wildcamps of 2016
I’ve not posted anything for the last 6 months or so, if I’m honest, I’ve not really had much to talk about and what I have done I’ve not felt the urge to publish. So as we start 2017 I thought I’d rectify the situation and look back to the wildcamps I did in 2016. These are not ‘wild’ by the standards of many people – most are low level, but they all count and they were all enjoyable in their own way.
We start in March, on the Affric Kintail Way with @PilgrimChris and a walk through some spectacular scenery in the Scottish West Highlands. We’d spent the first night in the bothy at Camban, which doesn’t count as a wildcamp for me and the second night we found a lovely sheltered pitch beside Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin. The floor was soft with moss and needles and the trees reduced the wind nicely.
My next night out was almost exactly a month later, as Chris and I walked part of the Tributaries Walk in the Yorkshire Dales. We had terrible weather on the first day and decided to retire, back to Chris’s caravan, rather than pitch in ridiculous winds and gusts of snow above Settle as we’d planned. The second day saw us walking from Settle to Ingleton, where we found a reasonable pitch at the entrance to Kingsdale at the foot of Whernside. We were right beside the path here and we made an early start in the morning.
It wasn’t until late July that I got out for a camping overnighter. I’d done a couple of other trips in the meantime, but either using the car, or a B&B for overnight accommodation. Sleeping in the car doesn’t count as a wildcamp of course! I spotted a decent weather window and the longer days meant I could leave from work on the Friday afternoon and take a short walk to a pitch on the hills. I decided to explore some of the fells that were about to be added to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, north of the Howgills, east of Shap. I selected Nettle Hill as the target, a new summit and a new trig point, as well as a likely looking camp spot. A lovely soft, grassy pitch with rolling views.
The very next week, the last weekend of July and I was out again. This time visiting a spot I’d been longing to camp at for ages – Sand Tarn, beneath the wonderful Wild Boar Fell. It has a sandy beach and some shelter as well as providing a potentially great view of the sunset over the Howgills. A much longer day was had bagging some new trig points, new summits and new OS squares, followed by a leisurely evening beside the tarn, watching the sun set (behind the clouds unfortunately).
In August I ordered a new tent, from the great folk at Tarp Tent in the USA – it’s lighter than my current tent, but not quite as spacious. I hope to be using it a lot more in the next couple of years.
The tent wasn’t quite ready for my next trip out, along the Cleveland Way with Chris again. The tent had arrived, but I’d not had time to seam seal it and I didn’t fancy our chances of a dry walk, so it stayed at home and I used my usual tent. we walked from Filey, along the coastal path, as far as Scarborough – we got completely soaked as the rain hammered down all afternoon. It stopped for a while as we dried out in Scarborough, but began again just as we were pitching up, right beside the path a couple miles out of the town. I was glad I’d not risked the SS1 – I’m fairly sure it would have leaked, given the amount of rain we had that night.
The day that followed was glorious – we got all our wet gear dried out that morning on the fence beside the tents and had a wonderful day in the sun, beside the sea. We reach Robin Hood’s Bay that afternoon and after a pub meal and a couple of beers we walked out of the town to find another decent pitch, right beside the path, in a field. These are not especially wild camps – I was quite nervous we would be moved on, but even though a couple of people came past, we were fine.
My next trip out was in early September, with @hillplodder (Matt) as we planned an excursion through the White Peak. Our first night was on a campsite – so not a wildcamp, but it was fun, with a log fire, loads of beer and full car camping luxury with quilts and pillows! The next day we walked from Ilam along some of the most scenic Dales in the Peak District before ending up on a windswept, nettle infested, cow shit riddled hill above Longnor. The weather was so bad we retired straight to out tents, with no socialising possible. This was my first outing with the SS1 and I found a problem using the poles supplied, but was rescued by loan of a walking pole by Matt.
The next day we walked though more lovely Dales and enjoyed some of the hidden treasures of the White Peak area. We stopped in Longnor for second breakfast, the Quiet Woman for lunch and ice cream in a bookshop of all places. Our second pitch was right beside a river, just off the Monsal Trail and what a great little pitch it was too! We made up for the previous night’s lack of socialising by getting a bit tight on Vodka & Coke and chatting into the dark. It got very wet in the night though, with an awful lot of condensation and my tent didn’t handle it too well.
My last trip of the year was with Chris again. I’d been to Skye in the meantime, but not to camp, despite my best efforts at getting at least one night in the tent – the weather was pretty dreadful and the alternative of a night in front of a roaring log fire was too much. Chris and I headed to the Dales – to camp at a spot I’d had my eye on for a long while. We walked from Reeth, along the Herriot Way path to the remains of the Peat Store at Blakethwaite Smelt Mill. The peat store was a long building with one long side open to allow the peat, stored inside to dry. The peat fuelled the furnaces that smelted the lead ore pulled from the surrounding hills. The weather was disappointing, but not too bad and my fitness levels let me down towards the end of the walk, but the camp was excellent and we had a great evening.
So ended a pretty good year of wild camping for me. I’m not prolific by any means, but hopefully these short trips can be repeated more often and I can get out and see more of this splendid country.
My tentative goal for 2017 is to wild camp in every National Park in England (there’s 10 of them), which should open up a lot more new scenery for me and the SS1 – I’ll keep you posted…. provided I actually do it!
Happy New Year to everyone who reads this – and to all those that don’t! 🙂